She was half-kidding. Posing the question as I’d imagine a mom in the 60s would ask if I was a “drug smoker of grass” or not, as a bit. Made me laugh when I heard it.
I called her back and said the conversation would be way more in line with the current climate if it was the year 2003. Maybe as late as 2005. I started out doing improv in Chicago, then did stand-up in bars, then moved to Los Angeles around that time. Back then, I remember certain “cool” rooms would literally shut down on you if you didn’t have an open notebook in front of you onstage. Yes, that’s right, if you did not. If you did, you were a “club comic.” The level of ironic detachment was pretty amazing.
Anyway, I really can’t think of anyone (at least that I know), whether they play the UCB or the Comedy Store or an art gallery or Go Bananas in Ohio, that doesn’t realize the importance of their shit playing well to everyone. That is, in clubs. Or anywhere else. I mean, are you a comedian or not? Period.
I remember years ago saying that I hated playing comedy clubs to my friend John Roy, who promptly asked “Well, how do they feel about you?” Great line. What an idiot I was. See, this was back when I first started out, and I’d played literally one club. The weekend after 9-11. Of course I ate shit. So did the headliner. I still think back to that weekend and literally shudder. The weekend after I played there, somebody got stabbed in the bar area and the cops closed the place.
I’ve since played a ton of them. In fact, it’s how I make my living. I like clubs. Well, at least most of them. Sometimes I’m not where I want to be, location-wise, but hey, I make a living at it. I will never, never take that for granted.
Anyway, I’m rambling, but I just wanted to share my mom’s voicemail and how it made me laugh. Guess what I’m trying to say is I’m just a comedian, and I’d rather have “goofy” or “Chicago-trained” or even “Avuncular wide-eyed slab of a man” (see John Wenzel’s book “Mock Stars”) then “Club” or “Alternative” in front of that.
Thanks for reading.