Two Buck Yuks: If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?Written by Keith Bergman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kurt Vonnegut, a man who knew a thing or two about life being hard, advised focusing on specific moments of happiness and joy in an otherwise tragic existence. He recommended pointing out these beautiful bubbles in time by saying something aloud, like, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”
These don’t have to be epic moments. Sometimes it’s just a mood that strikes you on a long drive home after a good gig, when the coffee’s hot, the moon is full and bright, just the right song comes on, and you know you get to sleep in tomorrow. Sometimes it’s even getting up early for work the day after a show — that afterglow can carry you through a lot of drudgery, like you’ve got a secret your fellow wage slaves will just never get.
It can be that feeling of triumph when your material lands, and lands well, in a room that worried you. Last weekend I performed in an American Legion hall in rural Indiana, and I had no idea what to expect. When that first joke hit, the relief was an almost physical sensation. The rest of the show was fantastic, and we had a good old drunken time afterwards.
The camaraderie I’ve had with my fellow comics on the road has been a highlight. It loses a lot in translation if you aren’t there, but the antics of four punch-drunk comedians at a diner in the middle of nowhere can make a terrible show seem like the least important part of the trip.
Many times, you see fellow comics a few times a year, if that. Catching up in the green room or having a quick post-show drink before heading off in opposite directions, to the next adventure, is something you can’t fully duplicate with social media and texting. It’s the road work, the shared experiences, the common madness that make such meetings special.
The day after that American Legion gig, I was blasting home on the Indiana Toll Road. That’s not a stretch of road that inspires rhapsodic thought, but the leaves were just changing color, I’d gotten good sleep at the hotel after a taxing week, I had the new Bad Religion album cranked and I couldn’t have asked for more contentment at that exact point in time.
I had a little money in my pocket, a full tank of gas, I’d just done a good show and I was on my way home to my family. I even remembered to say it out loud, and mean it: “If this isn’t nice, what is?”
Keith Bergman hosts the Two Buck Yuks Comedy Night at the Blarney Event Center, 601 Monroe St, downtown Toledo, every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Tonight, Oct.23, Yusuf Ali headlines the room, while Mark Sweetman tops the bill Oct. 30.