When I started comedy in the early 90’s, the most overdone topic in standup was airplanes. At the time, a lot of clubs actually flew their acts in, so comedians had a lot of experience being in the plane. Don’t be surprised that comedians have a lot of jokes about hotels, driving, and masturbation. Write what you know, right?
Well I never have written an airplane joke because I never felt I had anything new to offer on the subject. Today I kind of break that rule.
I was booked to do a weekend room in Decatur, Illinois. Since I don’t live very far from there, don’t think that I actually flew to the gig. If the gig is less than 15 hours, I’m probably driving it, as it’s cheaper and I prefer to escape the hassle of the airport. I mention the Decatur airport because the comedy club is located in the building. It’s called the Main Hangar Restaurant and it’s the busiest thing happening in the building, since Decatur Airport just provides service to Chicago and St. Louis.
The owner Chris really treats the comics well and we had sold-out shows both nights. He seems to really cultivate his regulars and is not afraid to put some of his profits back into advertising to raise more awareness. The Friday audience was great, while the Saturday audience was a challenge. Same amount of people from the same area, but as you learn in standup, you can never guess what will happen. The Saturday audience was one of those that was a little older and conservative that when they walked out told you how they had the time of their lives. You feel like saying “well how about expressing a little more of that through louder laughs during the show”, but you instead just learn to thank them and then take their money for the DVD’s they buy.
**(I sold more merch after the laid back crowd than I did for the one who acted like I was a rock star. Merch is often a better measuring stick on how much people really liked the show. That last sentence makes me think I need to see how much it would cost for me to sell measuring sticks. Hmm.)
My favorite member of the Decature audiences was a guy from Ireland who had moved to Decatur. After hearing him speak I told everyone there that my theory is that the real truth is he’s from Rockford, decided to make a new start, worked on an Irish accent to help score the chicks and has been living a lie ever since.
Here’s something to know about Scott! If I’m in a hotel room for just a couple of days I turn down maid service. It’s fun to leave like a teenager again. What I mean by that is I have fun just throwing everything on the floor. Visualize USA Today’s, fast food wrappers, and towels just strewn across the floor. I somehow have managed in my long time in standup not to lose anything important creating this tornando. I’ve left a couple shirts and once my toiletry bag, but I’ve never forgotten my computer or cellphone. Well, this time when I get home, I start to think, “I don’t remember packing my money.” Panic sets in and I look all over my suitcase and car. This is magnified by the point that I was paid with an envelope of cash.
I figure I’m fucked at this point, but I decided to take a shot and call the hotel. I get ahold of this guy named Fred, at the front desk. I tell him that I was the comedian this week and left my money in my hotel room. (I figured it was best to come off like I was sure I knew I had left the money.) He told me he didn’t think housekeeping had gotten to my room yet, so he would go up to the room and see if he could find it. Sure you will Fred.
5 minutes later I get a call back saying he found my money. It was under a newspaper on the desk. Now let me tell you this wasn’t Jeff Dunham money, but it was a substantial roll, so I was over the moon that he reported this to me. I told him I wanted to give him a reward, but he said he couldn’t take my money, but he did want to give 20 bucks to the housekeeping staff, if that was okay? Sure! He said he would give the rest of the money to the manager and she on Monday could figure out with me the best way to get the money back to me.
So on Monday I spoke to the manager, Sandy. She told me she would send me a money order. It came a few days later and she didn’t take out any shipping or handling, just the 20 dollars to the housekeeping staff. I got a hold of Chris and told him I wanted to buy 20 dollar gift certificates to his restaurant for both Sandy and Fred, my new heroes. He said he’d do that for them and he wouldn’t accept my money. He told me he was still getting people over the past couple weeks telling him how great the shows had been the weekend I was there and he appreciated me performing at the Main Hangar.
Sometimes it seems to take some actions like these 3 people to truly understand the humanity and kindness of our fellow man. I am lucky not just for this day, but for being in a business where I have people coming up to me after each show telling me how great of time they had. I can’t think of another business where you finish your shift having people smiling on the way out and complimenting you. Not even at the Happy Ending Massage Parlor. Sorry, I meant Oriental Health Spa. I have a couple weeks coming up where I’m bumped for a bigger draw, but I’m going to try to stay positive and think about the good parts of what I do. It goes against all of my nature, as I’m not exactly Mr. Positivity, but after the actions of people like Chris, Fred, and Sandy, I’m going to try.