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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Sheboygan Shindig

Saturday October 1st, 2011 - Sheboygan, WI

   Back to work. I’ve got shows booked for the next seven weekends in a row, and I’m not complaining. Most of it is close to home, pays halfway decent and I’ll be with people I’ve worked with before and have chosen to again. I won’t get rich, but I’ll be able to survive.

   That’s a good thing, but not a career maker. It’s just a job. I’ve been able to survive like this for 25 years, but that’s all I’ve been doing. Nobody knows who I am on a larger scale, and until that happens the results will stay the same. I’ll work, get paid but remain as is.

   That’s a swift kick in the balls of my ego, but I’m not worried about that. It’s a business flaw that concerns me. Why keep sucking up all that precious time and energy without the potential to take it farther and make more money? I don’t have that many good years left.

   Doing one night hell holes does have a place in the comedy business. It builds a callous of toughness and seasons a performer for the long haul. I’ve done that, and no longer need to prove myself in bars, pool halls and smoke filled VFW posts in obscure Podunk towns.

   That being said, one of my favorite one nighters ever is in the lounge of a bowling alley in Sheboygan, WI of all places. For whatever reason, I’ve always been able to destroy that room and have had absolutely killer shows through the years. I can do no wrong in there.

   They have a sweet performance space with a large and well lit stage and a quality sound system that lets everyone hear the show clearly. There’s a main seating area in front of the stage, and an elevated area of seats behind that so everyone can see and make their way to the rest rooms if they have to. Plus, they don‘t do too many shows to overexpose comedy.

   It might not be Caesars Palace in Vegas, but for a one nighter it doesn’t get much better. I hadn’t been here in years, and I was a little concerned because there was a football game of enormous magnitude locally with the Wisconsin Badgers playing Nebraska. They were showing it on a big screen TV on the stage when I got there and people were really into it.

   Then halftime came, and they rolled up the screen and started the comedy show. My old friend Pete Lipsey was the opening act, and I’ve known him forever. He’s a veteran of the  comedy game, but got married and had a family so he only does it part time these days.

   Still, he knows what to do and did his time and when I got up there I let it rip. I took the reigns and pounded them as hard as I could for almost an hour. They were good laughers, and it was just like I always remembered it in here. I even had a lot of material left over at the end of the night, but it was time to go and I knew it. Everyone had fun - me included.

   In the long run, these aren’t the kind of shows I need to be doing anymore. I’ve evolved past them a long time ag, and need to focus on getting seen by someone who can help me get on TV. But in the short run, it was a lot of fun to go up and knock it out of the park in a bowling alley lounge in Sheboygan. Those people got their money’s worth and more.  

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