I just got home from my first time ever attending the Madison Comedy Club on State and I'm pretty sure I will never not go there again. By which I mean invite me there anytime and I'll come with you. I was as nervous as anyone about to attend some random venue featuring amateur comedians as entertainment, and the night was really doomed from the start. First off, the only person I knew there is pretty much the only friend I have left in Madison (yes, the one who moves to Minneapolis February 1st). I had absolutely no clue where this place was, besides "near the overture center" which could mean any number of things. When I thought I was there, I was among a group of loud "buddies" type guys whom I didn't want to follow, so I did a fake-out and took a lap around the block (seriously).
By the time I finally got into the comedy area, I found that the only way to be sure you get a table with your friends is to actually show up with your friends and sit down at the same time as them. And it's hard to send a text message to a person in a dark room full of your average downtown-Madison d-bags to say, "look out for me, i'll be in the standard-issue urban outfitters tee and black north face fleece!"
I eventually found a table tucked well-enough in a corner for me to sit inconspicuously without looking like I was trying to hide my obvious cluelessness. Well played, if I do say so myself. I did manage to say hi to Dinah and even though I wasn't able to pull up a chair, it was much more like being at the movies than being at a bar so that didn't matter too much. I did not stay until the end, because I'm not a fan of walking around in the dark by myself. BUT I made it home without incident, I was only a block and a half away from my building before the freezing rain the meteorologists promised began, and it was the first time I went out wearing shoes since the first of December. Oh, plus I laughed my ass off for like a solid hour.
So I had fun for reasons compelling enough to blog, that's cool, but I also was reminded of a story. Not just any story it's "THE STORY" by which I mean it is the random ass true-as-shit personal account you tell at a party after about the third drink when you realize you desperately want everyone in the room to remember you the next day when they see you've requested their friendship on the facebook. So I'm going to share it on my blog, because this is about the closest to the aforementioned situation I can probably get on the internet.
About halfway through the line-up - the seventh or eighth comedian - I recognized my neighbor from last year. About four days after he moved into my building, I was in my apartment drunk, stoned, and hopped up on no-doz around four in the morning (seriously) when I heard a loud noise down the hall. At this time, the apartment across the hall was occupied by an older woman who lived alone and immediately considering her well-being, ventured into the hallway. This is where I encountered my neighbor: a charming, sweet MATC student studying to be a police officer and all-around "good kid." What I saw, however, was a black guy I had never met accompanied by a cohort surrounded by what looked like smoke with bandannas over their mouths, hoods up, and a pistol.
For the second time in my life, I picked up a phone and dialed everyone's favorite three-digit number.
The actual version of the story involves a bat which had flown into the building during move-in. My neighbor and his friend, who had just returned from working as bouncers at a State Street bar were trying as hard as they could to get rid of the bat. The fire extinguisher was their first attempt, which explains the "smoke" bandannas and hoodies, and the bb gun that looked to me like a pistol was blan b(b). Everyone had a good laugh, and he even brought me a photocopy of the police report to keep as a souvenier, admitting he'd totally have done the same thing if in my shoes. It totally could have been worse.
As my former neighbor took the stage tonight, the only thing running through my head was, "oh, shit." His stage persona is far different from the guy who will forever be an amicable acquaintance of mine, with being black in Wisconsin basically being his schtick, complete with a few n-words, a punchline that even the black clouds mean bad weather, and, yes, a Hurricane Katrina reference. Overall, he was pretty funny, and I really wish I could have seen him a year ago, when he undoubtedly must have worked the bat story into his routine and I would have loved to have heard the story from his stage persona's perspective, knowing full well I was the butt of the joke.
All in all, lessons learned: the Comedy Club on State is an okay place and that secret fear of unwittingly being some stand-up comedian's punchline is probably universal, but really not all that bad.