Work? (The Journey Continues)


(The Journey Continues)


So, I had done well my first time on stage. Surely stardom was right around the corner. I figured I should get in a few more shows to work out the kinks before I auditioned for late night television.

I took the advice I had gotten at the Pittsburgh Comedy Club and headed out to Tickles on Monday night. Tickles was in the basement of the Holiday House in Monroeville. It was more like the downstairs, not a basement. The room was enormous and held 350 or more, depending on how many they could squeeze in to make more money.

It was the heyday of comedy clubs and we would usually get at least 70 to 100 people a week on a Monday night. Once over Christmas break we had 300 which is unheard of for open mikes. Comedians are now doing open mikes to each other when no crowd shows up, which is just a waste of time.

Some of my students have suggested they use these times to help each other work on material like we do in class. They can’t get the majority to agree, which is stupid.

One of the draws of Tickles was that all of the working comedians in town would show up. If not every week, at least more than occasionally. That’s where I first met Dennis Miller.

Upstairs in the main room national headliners would be doing a run of shows. Monday was dark upstairs and a lot of the stars would come down to check us out. I remember Frankie Avalon coming by one night. Another night, McKenzie Phillips was taking her mother’s place in The Mamas and Papas and popped in…I would’ve rather seen her mother but, you take what you can get.

Aside from Dennis Miller, the other big comedy name in town was Billy Elmer. He was from my home town but a few years older and we had never met. He has since become 10 years younger than me on Facebook…I don’t know how that happens.

Billy was the host of the Monday shows at Tickles and I met him for the first time that night. We would start a friendship that’s lasted to this day…at least until the Facebook shot anyway.

Our friendship wasn’t instantaneous. We talked a little as I put in my name. He didn’t act like it was a big deal we were from the same High School. I realize now, he hadn’t seen me do anything. I could suck and never show up again, why waste his time.

Being a new guy, my time would be coming up late in the show, after the regulars. The good people get the early spots. I sat and watched the other comedians and tried to calm my nerves.

It was almost my turn, one more and then me. Billy introduced a black guy doing comedy for the first time by the name of Buzz. He had a good energy and some funny stuff. Mainly, he looked confident and like he knew what he was doing. At the end of his set, the crowd gave him a big round of applause.

Crowds are usually very appreciative when somebody does well their first time. It had just happened to me a few days earlier.

Anyway, Billy introduced me and it didn’t start out well. The first few minutes were met with silence. I could sense the crowd slipping away. I should mention, there was a big group of regulars who came to Tickles every Monday. They had seen many first and only timers come and bomb. Looks like they were seeing another one.

Of course, they could have also been witnessing the newest psycho. There were quite a few of them and there still are today. The people with no talent, who think they’re funny and keep coming back every week, never getting a laugh.

In the silence on stage, a million thoughts were going through my head.

“Maybe last week was a fluke.”

“The last guy did really well, maybe they only appreciate one new guy a week.”

Then, something clicked and I got a laugh…and then another…I was rolling. I was doing better than the week before. Then I heard a voice in the audience.

“He’s a natural.”

That only added to the adrenaline rush I was feeling. I got a big round of applause as I said,
“Thanks, good night.”

My head was in the clouds. Billy introduced the next act and came over to talk to me.

“That was pretty good.”

Then he started talking about getting work and how there was a lot of work around and how you could always find work.

What the hell was he talking about?


I was going to be doing shows and gigs and flying first class and riding in limousines. What the hell did he mean by work? I would find out.

Next Time,

“Show me the money!”

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