For a while now I’ve wanted to write more personal writing pieces, but never quite gotten there. Every blog I’ve tried to make has either felt forced, or neglected. Monthly is my best answer to that problem. In an effort to weed out over-posting for the sake of content creation, and posting one thing every 5 months and looking like a person who’s neglected a website, I’ve created a blog that this year will get exactly 12 entries. One for each month. I don’t really know exactly what it’s going to be about, except that I’ll probably be in it.
A ridiculous amount of things have happened in the past month. So much so that this post comes nearly 6 days late. Lots of design stuff. Lots of mics. Did the podcast for the first time in 2 months. More than anything though, I’m hosting a show again. It’s every week, twice a week, and it’s kind of exhausting. But it’s fun. A nervous, oddly shaped ball of fun.
The first time I “hosted” anything was 6 months into comedy. I use that term loosely because for the first couple of months that meant I would sit behind an iPod and play intro music for people, and then some unremembered time into that I eventually got the privilege to stutter in front of people before they did better comedy than me.
The venue was right smack in the middle of downtown, and was this weird little faux dive called “The Beauty Bar”. Overall the floor plan was probably super small compared to other buildings, but BB managed to sort of magic eye everyone into thinking it was bigger by having 70% of the bar exist down this long hallway. It was basically shaped like a lopsided turkey baster, and on the end of that baster were 10 chairs that got set up for a bi-weekly open mic. Despite all that, it honestly wasn’t that bad. People usually had good sets. On one occasion one of the producers from Portlandia came in and watched part of the show. And of course like any great open mic, it almost certainly contributed to the eventual closing of the bar. Every once and while I wonder what it would be like to walk in there again, not for nostalgic reasons, but because as a “beauty bar” there was also some basic beautician services (nail polishing and the like), and every time I walked in there for the mic I would smash my face on a wall of smells. I can’t help but feel that odor is permanently layered into the wallpaper.
My favorite part about that room was how it’s carved into my memory. By all standards it should be one of the least memorable places I performed, but for whatever reason it caught a lot of lucky breaks. Like a shitty employee who should’ve been fired years ago, it simply persisted. Truth be told, I can’t remember the first time I actually hosted there. What instead sticks out are some other semi-notable bits of trivia. In a bizarre twist of fate, BB was actually the only place my short lived musical career and comedy met. It was the first place where I had to comfort another comic who was going through some shit, only to figure out about 13 months down the line that they were actually just batshit insane all the time (not the last time that’s happened). It’s also the only place that I performed ‘kind of’ drunk, which happened when I decided I wanted to use both of my drink tickets before I went up. I have no idea how other people do that. My comedic senses are like a gun from the 1890’s. They work, but I have to maintain them constantly or else they’ll backfire.
Maybe it was just nerves, but when I first starting hosting things I was like a wet cat. Scared, confused how I was put into this position. More than anything, I’ve learned hosting is simply a sacrifice to the comedy gods. You smash your head on a rock so that some lesser demi god sees your offering, and in turn makes it so the crowd at this underground bar show will concentrate, if only for a brief moment. Sometimes it’s good. I mean that. Something it can be really good and people are just a great audience, but you should never expect that or feel entitled to it. In this past month at the new show I’m running, I’ve run the gamut of different kinds of crowds in record speed. First show week two had your classic, “group of people who are clearly listening, not offended, but amazingly silent”. Maybe it’s the fact that the lights are on, maybe they’re foreign exchange students; they’re just not laughing. Week five, first show. A group of, “I’m going to talk over you and be indifferent to everything you say”. Steamrolled. It’s so weird. I care about bombing. It’s something I try to avoid. And yet there’s this reckless abandon that exists when hosting a mid level bar show. There have also been really great shows as well. It’s not all angst.
This year for the Bridgetown Comedy Festival I designed, Kickstarted, and screenprinted this poster. It nearly killed me.
Conservatively, I’ve wanted to do a run of posters for about 5 years now. Of all the things I’ve purused creatively, it’s taken the longest to execute. There’s just so many factors that come into play. First there was the matter of talking to the festival people and having them simply give me permission to come up with a design. Then designing the thing. Then raising money to make it so I’m not out $500. Then making sure the printing company gets everything on time. Then starting a Kickstarter. And on top of everything, there were little eccentricities within each of those tasks, fractling out into their own micro issues, and so on, and so on. Apparently it can take upwards of a week just to set up a project on Kickstarter. I did not know that. You have to confirm/register a phone number, e-mail, and a bank account; which is a whole other story I won’t get into. For most independent printers it takes up to 3 weeks to do one run of posters.
That of course was directly linked to the decision to NOT attempt to print these on my own. Of the choices I’ve made over the years, that decision would probably be the best one claiming that I am, indeed, an adult. 26 year old Danny was happy to realize that printing a 5 color, 18 x 24 design in 3 weeks might be over his head. 22 year old Danny given the same circumstance would currently be weeping in a puddle of inks, wondering how and how it came to this. Anarchy.
So many things fell just perfectly into place that at times, I’m surprised the damn thing even got made. That said, I’m extremely happy with how it turned out. I’m really, really happy with the color mixing, the way I was able to display the names, everything. I’m amazed/humbled at the outpouring of support I got via the Kickstarter. Raising $500 is definitely on the smaller spectrum of most Kickstarter projects, but to see a nice, steady trickle of support from friends, family, and complete strangers. I’m already thinking about designs for next year, and it’s already wracking my nerves. Wouldn’t have it any other way.