Two Buck Yuks: The Winter of discontentWritten by Keith Bergman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The car skidded off the county road — or what I was pretty sure was the road — and the right wheels went into the ditch. Inertia kept it moving forward and luckily a raised driveway appeared. The tires hit the driveway and, with a skidding swerve, I got back onto the area in the snow where a few faint tire tracks told me I should be. I risked a glance at the GPS. Only six more miles on this county road and I could turn onto … another county road.
You don’t need me to tell you this has been the worst winter we’ve seen in decades. Between the school closings, the snow emergencies and the pothole-stricken steeets, we’re all ready for this season to go away. For people who travel for a living, it’s that much worse — there’s nothing quite like having to decide whether your livelihood is worth leaving the safety of home and risking life and limb.
Sometimes it just makes things inconvenient or stressful. I hosted a show with two touring comics and the middle act didn’t land in Detroit until an hour before showtime due to flight delays. When I went up to start the show, he still wasn’t in the building. It took an elaborate series of hand signals from the side of the stage to let me know that when I introduced him, he would actually walk up and do his set.
Other comics reported getting snowed in and having impromptu slumber parties with friends when they couldn’t get back out of a city after a show. A bunch of us did a showcase in South Haven, Mich., just as a big storm blew in off the lake. One comic wound up in a hotel after her car pinballed off several guardrails on the way. Another stopped and rescued a stranded, freezing motorist whose car had died on the side of the interstate. I drove out of the storm and made it to South Bend, where, in my infinite wisdom, I stopped by The Drop Comedy Club to do a set and let the storm catch up to me.
Worse was the hit to the wallet when gigs got canceled. We had to pull the plug on Two Buck Yuks show twice in January, and shows from A-list rooms to small dive bars fell by the wayside as county snow emergencies hit. For smaller shows, there’s usually no compensation if the gig gets canceled — the comics are just out of luck.
As the big thaw rolls in, I’m grateful beyond measure that none of my fellow travelers were casualties of the cold, ice and snow. We joke sometimes that comedians are just paid drivers who get to tell jokes as a reward at the end of their run. I’m looking forward to those drives being green, warm and relatively hassle-free soon.
Keith Bergman curates the Two Buck Yuks comedy showcase at the Blarney Event Center, 601 Monroe St., every Wednesday at 8 p.m. On Feb. 19, Dan Currie headlines the show, while Adam Degi tops the bill Feb. 26.