When it’s proving difficult to pay the rent and keep up with the bills, there’s only one thing to do, borrow some lights, theatrical drapes from the Independent Shakespeare Company in Los Angeles, put them into the back of our tour wagon – the 2008 VW Beetle and put on a show in Long Beach. All probelms solved. Well, okay, the rent still has to be paid and the bills may have to wait, but we did it. Brian Zuanich, Jason London, Sally Mullins, Pauline Yasuda played to a packed house at the Cohiba club. We turned the nightclub into a comedy club. There were a few glitches, we didn’t really know how to hang lights, make them stay there and plug them in to the right socket – harder than you think when you’re dealing with 500 watts. The stage was also just high enough to require a step, we didn’t have one so I was lifting Sally on and off the stage as she introduced the acts. Thankfully, Mike Dolan came down to DJ or we may have missed out on one vital element of stand up comedy – the microphone. We had one, but again – where to plug it? What I love about stand up is that you turn up in your day clothes to a club and just walk onto a stage and speak into a microphone. On Saturday, we went a little further than that. We turned up with everything we thought we needed for a show and then sent Brian off to get everything we’d forgotten.
With ten minutes to spare, we’d blacked out the windows, set out tables with candles, closed off the stage with the aid of the drapes (they nearly fell as Brian walked through them to demonstrate the entrance, so we finally found a use for the speakers with no wires – they were weights) and Mike played the pre-show music, wow how professional are we? And then along come the Wu-Tang Clan “hey, we’re playing here tonight” what?? Yes they had booked the room for just after us and we’d created a comedy club, perfect for a multi platinum rap group. Ah, you probably don’t want this place to look like a comedy club from the fifties do you? Nope. Okay, we’ll get to that…we’ve just, oh my God, we have lines of people wanting to come and see comedy.
Got to be honest, producing a show like this was so stressful, the only real break was the thirty minutes I was on stage where I could escape the endless debate over whether a wrap band should perform with or without our beautiful theatre drapes, whether the candles would be appropriate and if not could we strike what took us day to put up in five minutes. At times like that, it’s best to avoid the conversation and tell jokes to the packed room. I came off to find Brian had been handed the baton of harrassed producer and was surrounded by rap artists and comedians firing questions at him as if he he had just dropped the ball in the end zone in the dying seconds of the superbowl. You’re up Brian “I haven’t had time to think about my set”, well you’ve got plenty of time now, thirty minutes in front of 160 people – good luck, don’t bump into the curtains, not sure how steady those speakers are.
So why did we do this? Well, in in January alone I must have travelled a few thousand miles by air, car and at times bob sleigh (ok, it was technically a car, but there was no road between Wenatchee and Lewiston, just snow!) and when performing in Hollywood at our beloved comedy store (I really do love the comedy store, I’d live in the main room if I could, it makes me so happy to be there) we are put under enormous pressure to “bring people” without sharing in the success of the show, so by putting on our own show a few miles away, we actually made money! Enough to pay the rent? Hell no. But a few more “sold out” shows like this and we’ll be getting there.
I am very lucky, I have spent most of my adult life earning a living (ok, meagre, but still…) from acting, directing or telling jokes. Every now and again it gets a little hairy and I think, what else can I do? Then comes the frightening truth, there is very little I am qualified to do. I’ve never been a waiter or worked in a coffee shop. In fact I am extremely impractical, only learning skills superficially when there has been a camera crew to capture my “truthful” acting moment. I’ve played a mechanic on a TV show, but put me under a car and I really have no clue what I’m looking at. I don’t know what CC my VW is, does it have one? Do I? So when it comes to digging out a living, this is what I know, putting on show, be it a film, a play or a night of stand up comedy.