Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Travels In Southern Oregon

I promised a blog about the Oregon trip, so here goes.
Ngaio's car is disgusting. It's like a bachelor pad on wheels, which means it's also kind of awesome. Great place to relax, listen to GREAT music, smoke a cigar and watch beautiful scenery go by.

My wife sent me off with enough food to invade Russia in the winter. She was using her head though. She explained that the extra munchies were because I was traveling with a stoner.
We left a day early in order to hit Ashland on the way up and check out Dennis Peron, marijuana activist extraordinaire. I'm gonna be honest here and I hope it doesn't come across as disrespect of a man who has fought the good fight all his life, but Peron kinda struck me as a dude who had maybe smoked a bit too much pot.

We stayed at the Ashland Springs Hotel, which is awesome. Right in the middle of downtown Ashland. My past experiences with Ashland have been universally creepy. I've been cruised in the middle of a grocery store in the middle of the afternoon and that's just one of many stories. It was great that this visit was so much fun. Ashland's a cool little town. It was great but maybe a little disappointing. I didn't want to leave without one creepy Ashland story. So, we stopped to get gas and I took a turn paying. Ngaio is looking out his car at the meter (the attendant pumped as it's illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon) and was surprised to see it pass $20 as he thought he'd filled up recently. When it passed $30 I craned my neck to see gas overflowing all over the place. I yelled to the attendant who then offered to hose it off.
How much gas do you think that is? I asked him.
"Well, I couldn't guestimate that."

And I thought, the hell you can't. Guestimate away and be sure it's in my favor. But I kept my mouth shut and realized I'd gotten my Ashland story.

The next stop was Coos Bay where we had an early and a late show in the Mill Casino and Hotel. If Casinos are your thing this one seemed to have all the stuff. I didn't gamble a single coin, drink a single drink or smoke a single cigarette so I can't offer much of a review except to say there is a nice walk along the water and a huge fire pit in the lobby.

The early show was a bit rough. I needed to adjust to the, how do I put this, non-urban crowd.
I'm not a snob, okay, I am a little, but I liked these folks fine but they need something different than the Sac, LA, SF crowds. I also need to stop worrying about old people. They came to a comedy show, they've lived through shit I can only imagine, I'm probably not going to shock them, I need to just do my set and not censor myself because grandma is in the audience.

The late show, I made these adjustments, plus I took some advice from Ngaio and added a couple of dirtier jokes. It's cool that he knows my set well enough to have favorites. I did much better. I closed with "Answering the Door Naked" and it went over very well.

Oh, did I mention I thought I was gonna get in a fight for a minute? It went like this...

Drunk: So, you think that it's cool to joke about Haiti? That that shit is funny?
Ngaio: Dude, the show's over. Let it go.
Drunk: No, man, I just want to know why he thinks that's funny?
Me: Me and this guy did a benefit to HELP people in Haiti and that's where I got those joke. The butt of the joke is NOT the people of Haiti. I'm making fun of the dumb ass rock stars who can't be bothered to write a new song for Haiti. Are you okay with making fun of rock stars?
Drunk: Um... yeah, okay.
Me: Cool. I'm Keith. (I shake his hand.)
Drunk: I'm Bernadette Peters (real name withheld to protect the intoxicated.) I'm glad I talked to you or it would bug me all night.
Me: I'm glad you did too.

Now this all went down before the second show and the drunk stuck around for said second show. When I came off stage he came out to tell me that he thought of a less offensive joke about Haiti that I could use:
"You know they just found a black dude buried in rubble for two weeks and he was alive. You just can't kill them."
I didn't know what to say. I was struck dumb, amazed, yes you could even say flabbergasted.

Leaving Coos Bay we stop at a gas station and the old codger looks at big, dreadlocked, black Ngaio and geeky, scrawny, white me and ask if I'M keeping HIM out of trouble. I agree that I am and the old dude says "Good! He'd probably just as soon run over half the crackers in Oregon!" We all have a good laugh and dude pumps the gas. Awesome.

We stop in Roseburg, watch a crappy movie (An American in Paris) I take in some Sponge Bob in the hotel and Ngaio does something, probably out running over crackers.

Beautiful drive and then Klammath Falls. We check in at Legends and it looks like a roadhouse. I picture bar fights and girls dancing on the bar. Our Motel 6 is on the same block as is a strip club that I never got around to checking out and a drive through coffee shop that has a nice walkway to a pedestrian window where you can stand if you want to be ignored by the cute girl who helps like four different cars while you stand there until you get frustrated and leave. The position of the espresso machine ensured lots of cleavage flashing while I waited so that was okay, and saved me from having to check out the strip club.

I opened my set that night with "Wow, this place is nuts! I feel like I'm in the cantina scene in Star Wars. I think I just saw Greedo pointing a gun at Han Solo." I wasn't pandering, the scene was crrrazy. I observed to Ngaio that it wasn't the mix of black people and white people that made it strange, it was THESE black people with THESE white people. There was actually a dude there with a plaid short sleeve shirt, sleeves rolled up to his shoulders, skin tight jeans, cowboy boots, a HUGE wad of chew in his bottom lip and a souther flag trucker cap. There were dudes who looked like the wanted to look like gangsters, and there was the occasional Indian (from India) in Dockers and a dress shirt.

They loved us. I had a great set. I was having much fun. Ngaio did almost 90 minutes and had them going the whole time. It was a blast. Before the show the host told me that the cute bartender was flirting with me. I don't know if this is true, I'm terrible at identifying flirting but my funniness has always been a wooing strategy and the thought that cute flirting girl may be watching always helps.

Being THE most boring comic in the world, I got paid and went back to my room alone after chatting for a minute with a good looking couple, about my age, who may or may not have been picking up on me. The guy in the couple told me several times that the female partner was in great shape and a professional dancer. She was cute, reminded me of Juliet on LOST.

Apparently after I left there were a few fights which were followed by conciliatory hugs. I woke up fairly early, found a coffee shop that would actually give me coffee and we drove the long pretty drive back to my favorite city which is where my favorite wife and my favorite baby were waiting.

If you want to get some road time in with an established comic you could do a lot worse than Ngaio. He was hella cool to hang out with and he plays great music which makes a big difference. You never want to get stuck on the road listening to The Eagles for five days.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Sometimes the recollecting of a memory replaces the memory. What I mean to say is, I mine my past for stories and jokes, I embellish and punch them up and eventually the memory fades and I remember my first kiss less than I remember the jokes and the exaggerations I built around my first kiss. I try to keep my comedy honest but it still sometimes feels like I'm trading my memories for a laugh.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I started out as a Catholic and it had a lasting effect.

You probably think I'm going to say I feel guilt. I do, but I don't attribute that to Catholicism. Everyone with a mom thinks their people have the corner on guilt. No, it's not guilt that was uniquely Catholic it was the awesome system of alleviating guilt. Catholicism actually gave you a really quick way to to assuage the guilt.

If I do something wrong now it's gonna bug me and to cure that, I gotta fix it, make it right. If that's impossible then I just gotta live with it. If I was still on the Pope's good side though, I could do a penance. What I wouldn't give to just do a penance instead of all this apologizing and making amends crap. But there is no secular equivalent and that is too bad. What I wouldn't give to be able to just tell some voyerstic bastard what jacked up thing I did and then have him assign "Three The Gamblers by Kenny Rogers, and two dirty limericks, then come up with an original haiku and you're clear."

"That's it? I don't even have to bury the cat or anything?"

"No man, you're cool. On second thought, better throw in an extra haiku and hum something from the eighties."