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

A Snow Plowed Crowd

Tuesday February 9th, 2010 - Chicago, IL

   Just about the time I think I have this whole standup comedy thing figured out, I have a night like tonight and it blows me all the way back to the starting line again and I wonder why I ever started performing in the first place. When it‘s good, it’s great. Not tonight.

   I was scheduled to work the downtown Chicago location for Zanies this week but I have been moved do to other bookings. Zanies had a chance to book someone they wanted and instead of blowing me out like happened with my show last Saturday in Fond du Lac, WI, they moved me out to Vernon Hills on Thursday and Friday. That’s closer for me anyway.

   The downtown location is the only one that does a Tuesday show, so I still needed to do it as part of my week. No problem, I enjoy working. I didn’t enjoy driving through a nasty snow storm to get there, but that’s part of the deal. Nobody at the club expected any kind of a crowd because of the weather, but we were all proven wrong. People kept coming in.

   By the time the show started, we were all feeling pretty good. The wait staff had people to sell drinks to, and the comedians had an audience. Win/win. The only thing wrong with that is the majority of them only wanted the drinking part. The show was an afterthought.

   It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to deal with such an ugly babbling mob of boozed up, rude, chatty bubbleheads  like these people, and I had all I could handle to not just put the microphone down and walk out the door and get in my car and drive home. If I wasn’t at a Zanies, I would have seriously considered doing it. These people didn’t want a show.

   They wanted to BE the show. There was a group of about a dozen or so flamingly white suburban types who obviously had had too much to drink. They found a need to comment on EVERY SINGLE LINE I did, and after the first six minutes I have to admit it got old.

   They had started when the other acts were on stage, but the booze really kicked in when I got up there, and I had to fight with them the whole time. I’m WAY past that, but not in their minds apparently. The more I tried to ignore them, the more they tried to participate.

   The rest of the crowd wasn’t that great either, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get any kind of a roll going so I did the best I could, and got off stage exactly five minutes after the manager Martin gave me my five minute light. I’d had enough of these monkeys.

   As I cleaned the snow off my car afterward, I saw two of the front row boozers having a cigarette in front of the club. They didn’t know it was me right next to them and one said to the other “What an ass that last guy was. He acted like he didn’t even want us to help.”

   I wanted to take my snow brush and jam it where there’s normally not that much natural snowfall, but I bit my lip and got in the car and drove away. He wasn’t worth it, and I had my fill of idiots for one night. Still, after all these years of stage time, a night like this will sneak up and rattle the cage of even the most savvy veteran. I guess this keeps us humble.

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