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

In Rust We Trust

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Saturday January 26th, 2013 – Latrobe, PA

   The ‘King of The Rust Belt’ strikes again! I had a sizzling hot show tonight in Latrobe, PA that was right up there with the best I’ve ever had, and it doesn’t surprise me in the least. This is right in my element, and I can swing a mighty hammer in these situations. I need to find more of them.

   Put me in front of a friendly blue collar audience over thirty in a rust belt town and I’m good to go. I know how to touch these people, and make them laugh until they can’t breathe. They totally get the concept of Mr. Lucky, as they can all relate to it in their own lives in one way or another.

   I’ve done well in other parts of the country, but The Rust Belt is my wheel house. Anywhere in the vicinity of a Great Lake is usually my bread and butter and I love working places many other comics prefer to stay away from like Buffalo or Detroit or some smaller town that has nasty cold weather and a ravaged economy. I’ll show up. Those are the people that need to laugh the most.

  Latrobe, PA is about fifty miles east of Pittsburgh, and they’ve been putting on comedy shows for the Parks and Recreation Department for many years. Jeff Schneider from the Funny Bone in Pittsburgh has been booking the talent, and asked me last summer if I wanted to do it this year.

   I wasn’t looking forward to the drive, but he told me it was a good gig and the comics he’d sent in previous years all had fun. I assumed I probably would too, but not to this level. I was at home from the time I stepped on the stage until I got off 55 minutes later. I could have done longer, but those people had laughed enough. It was time for them to go home and they went home satisfied.

   Of course like a dummy I didn’t bring any CDs or DVDs to sell, and that was a major mistake I won’t soon make again. There were about 350 people that would have cleaned out any and all of my merchandise inventory, and I blew a fantastic chance to return home with a significant bonus.

   Merchandise has never been a strong part of my game, and that needs to change yesterday. I’m leaving well earned money on the table, and that’s just not smart business. Not every crowd buys merchandise, but those that do usually do it in droves. This would have been one of those nights.

   Still, it was a wonderful experience all around and I’m glad I came – long drive and all. Doing shows like this is why I got into comedy in the first place, and if I have my way I’ll be doing lots more of them for as long as I’m breathing. There just isn’t anything else that gives me this buzz.

   There’s no way I shouldn’t be rich doing this, and I’m going to find out how to achieve that so I don’t have to keep driving ratty cars and living like a lowly bum. I’ve spent my life getting my ‘show’ part down, now it’s time to master my ‘business’. I made a few bucks tonight, but I could be making a whole lot more doing exactly the same thing. I need to tighten up my plan of action.

   James Gregory is a comedian from Atlanta who kills in the Southeast. He sells out theatres and his fans adore him. He doesn’t work anywhere else because he doesn’t have to. He’s a huge draw in his area and I find nothing wrong with that. I’d love to be the James Gregory of The Rust Belt.

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