Two Buck Yuks: Dispatches From the RoadWritten by Keith Bergman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday was supposed to be a big homecoming show for me in the place I grew up. It was gonna be me headlining, mostly to people who knew me from high school, and it would have been fun. The show got canceled — these things happen, for a million different reasons. People I haven’t seen since 1990 sent me snarky messages blaming me for ruining their weekend plans. Sorry about that.
Saturday ended up being pretty great, though. I was in Freeport, Ill., almost to the Iowa border, doing a show with Charlie Wiener. He may not be a household name in this area, but he’s been performing music and comedy in Cleveland since before I was born. He’s 61 now and still regularly hits the road harder than anyone I know. He was leaving Illinois the next morning and heading for a run of shows in North Dakota, for crying out loud.
The show was sold out, and the crowd was more into it than I’d dared hope. I got a big adrenaline rush performing for them, and then Charlie went up and made them forget all about me. There’s a reason Charlie is well-liked by every comic I’ve ever heard mention him — he gets the job done, he’s fun to hang around with and he’s a consummate showman. We ended the night as conquering heroes, accepting free drinks and holding court at the bar for hours after show time.
Woke up Sunday, hit the road again, and spent six hours driving to Muskegon, Mich. The show there was full of amiable drunks, who had a good time with us, but didn’t really register the fact that talking through a comedy show kinda damages that show a little bit. I opened for my friend Stu McCallister, who put me up at his place in Grand Rapids, where I am now.
As I write this, I’m on a futon, surrounded by Stu’s two elderly cats. My wife has to get the kids off to school solo tomorrow, and I’m spending the day networking with comedy people on this side of the state before hitting an open mic in Lansing and then heading home.
The biggest deal about this weekend is that it isn’t a big deal any more. Somewhere I transitioned from a hopeful open miker scrambling to fill five minutes into a working, professional comic. I go to shows; I get paid; I get up the next day and I do it again.
So it turned into a job, but here’s the secret: it’s still a blast. It’s harder work than you would think, but it’s the most fun thing I know how to do. I’ll pull into Toledo late tomorrow night, and be glad to be home, but I’ll already mentally be packing my bags for the next trip out.
Keith Bergman curates the Two Buck Yuks show at the Blarney, 601 Monroe St., Downtown Toledo, 8 p.m. every Wednesday. Gerrit Elzinga tops the bill on March 5.