Man, am I beat. In case you hadn’t noticed, we had two shows outside New York City last week. I’ve been consumed with them for months, and we’ve all been super excited. And that excitement pretty much paid off, too.
The bus ride down to Washington from New York was pretty uneventful. The cab ride to Eric and Sarah’s (our hosts for the evening) was another story. That was when I found out that we’d sold out the Black Cat.
It’s really, really difficult to articulate what that felt like. Everything got brighter, sharper. Sounds had more clarity, and all the hairs in my nostrils stuck out straight. I think my metabolism tripled. We all had a belt of bourbon before going down to the club, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it burned up before it got all the way through the esophagus.
I’d been getting a cold, and my body did this incredibly strange thing. First, it fast-forwarded through the generative stage of the cold, stuff running out of my head like a child had salted a slug’s nest in my brain.
Then when we got to the club and literally had to walk through a small crowd of total strangers to see this sign on the door, everything just stopped completely:
The cold dried up. My body paused it completely, put the whole thing on layaway.
When moved to New York from DC, I didn’t leave many regrets behind. I left some great friends, but I felt really frustrated creatively. It was like climbing a greasy hill – it took a lot of energy to make a little progress.
So when we got a bunch of great press for the show, (special thanks to old friend Chris Klimek) which sort of surprised me. It didn’t really hit me until I saw all those people that I didn’t even know that maybe, just maybe, I’d come to a friendlier city than the one I thought I left. Old friends came out, too – one guy drove all the way up from Richmond. People crammed themselves into the crannies at the place, and then it was showtime.
And oh my God. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we fricking killed. Imagine surfing sunbeams on a cloud made out of golden thread. Every twitch, every joke, every little comment got laughs. Some bozo sat down front and fiddled with his iPhone and I had to remind him of his manners — and even THAT killed. It got so many laughs that he thought he’d earned a little place in the show.
And as an aside, NO, he didn’t. This show features me, Brad Lawrence, Runaround Sue and Cyndi Freeman. Not me, Brad Lawrence, Runaround Sue and Cyndi Freeman and some asshole in an argyle sweater vest.
But I got lucky — wrangling with that guy added to the experience. Brad, Cyndi and I cut our teeth telling stories at the Moth on a 6-minute shot clock. It was so, so fun to riff out and stretch and feel it work. I’ve never in my entire life felt that connected to that many people, in that much control of what I was doing, just grabbing the giant wheel of a shared experience and taking that fucking thing over a few hills fast enough to give us all that tickly surge deep in the guts.
The Wonder Woman/Cheetah striptease and catfight killed, too. I got the feeling that I could have flicked balls of bellybutton lint at the crowd for a few minutes and gotten away with it.
And in the end, stepping out into the city in a black three-piece suit with an envelope full of cash in my pocket and riding the high of a thousand laughs all the way back home — I think I got as close to feeling something Muddy Waters may have felt as I’ll ever be.
Snipers could have taken us out on the way up 14th street and we’d have gone down grinning.
The Philadelphia show didn’t have the same buzz, but few things in life ever will.
We confirmed the show a little too late to get solid press for it, for one thing. And we really don’t know that many people there, either, and it was on a Sunday night. So it goes.
The show is a big, intense show, and everyone onstage brought their best game. You’ve got to work through a mellow reaction sometimes, that’s how it goes. I don’t doubt that the folks there were having a good time. But it takes a certain density, a certain compression of people to get that focused reaction you’re going for. If the room’s got a funny shape, or people are smattered around, the energy kind of dissipates before it can crash up on the stage.
But when the crowd’s small, I just appreciate the HELL out of every single person for coming out that much more. We’ll pump the show more ahead of time next time, now that we know how it works.
Here’s two views of the room at L’etage in Philadelphia, before anyone showed up:
It’s a beautiful room, and the folks there were really nice. And this happened backstage, too:
Cyndi was flinging her Wonder Woman outfit up on the counter and her (freshly washed) G-string looped itself over my drink. It’s little stuff like that, doing a show in a new town, getting onstage again with old friend and meeting new folks like Doogie Horner that make all this such a rush, and such a weird ride. And the thing is, that coaster is still just ratcheting up the hill.
The way I feel right now is the exact reason that I don’t fool with Ecstasy anymore. All that energy, all that adrenaline rush for a straight week like a hot-tub party with the Rolling Stones, and now it’s like this:
This is one of the biggest achievements of my life, a big fat kill. That meat rots fast, though, and the only way to keep eating is to pick that spear back up and get back in the jungle.
This was our first foray out of town, but it’s going to be FAR from the last. We’ll be back in Washington, back in Philadelphia, and going further and further next time. Best believe that one. Hope we see you next time.