Monday, August 31, 2015

What a Best year it has been!

Oh my goodness!
You have just over a week (September 8!) to go (Go! Go, Go, Go!!) file your grievances votes for Creative Loafing's 2015 Best of the Bay awards! It's the 25th anniversary, so kind of a big deal. Now, I am nominated in the following categories:

  • Best local sportswriter (me)
  • Best local blogger (me)
  • Best local personality to follow on Twitter (me)
  • Best local podcast (mine)
  • Best book by a local author (mine)
  • Best local stand-up comic (me)

I also have a rooting interest in a couple of other categories:

But I'm not here to campaign for your votes. I already did that.

I haven't voted yet, which is a lie, but when I do, I will be making the following selections and not voting for myself in those previously mentioned categories (that is not a lie) because that would be tacky.

















Friday, August 28, 2015

Neighborhood feud

Apparently, my neighbors hate each other. Here's how I know.

  • A few weeks ago, my mailbox fell (or was knocked) off its post. I went out later to fix it and my neighbor from across the street (we'll call him Mr. Across-the-street) came over and said, "I fixed that for you already". I thanked him and he said, "yeah, I did it because he said he was gonna run it over with his car", indicating my next door neighbor, the guy who mows my lawn and removes the clippings for free because he's into composting (we'll refer to him as Mr. Mower). "Really?", I asked incredulously. "Why would he do something like that?". "Oh, he's a bad guy. Him and his wife. They're swingers. And drug dealers. And they steal. They have wife swapping parties where they deal drugs and they go to California." I'm not sure what going to California has to to do with anything but Mr. and Mrs. Mower have always been very nice to me. They have dogs and last year, they gave me a plate of Christmas cookies. So without acknowledging his claims, I thanked him for fixing my mailbox and went inside.
  • A few weeks later, Mr. Across-the-street posted these signs in his yard:

  • The next morning, there was a City of Tampa code enforcement truck in Mr. Across-the-street's driveway and the signs were down.
  • This past Saturday, I saw a small wooden structure near my mailbox and found out it was housing a camera pointed at Mr. Across-the-street's house. I saw Mrs. Mower outside and asked her what was the deal. "We're having real problems with them and we're trying to protect ourselves. We can move it if it's on your property and you don't want it there." She told me that Mr. Across-the-streets follows them when they walk their dogs, calls Mrs. Mower all kinds of horrible names and once showed up in their garage carrying a baseball bat! I told her, "by all means, do whatever you need to do to be safe."
  • The next day, Mrs. Across the street knocked on my front door. I answered it and she proceeded to give me the lowdown, according to her. She basically said it was a disagreement between the two men of the respective houses and that her hope was that it would die down eventually. Nothing too crazy about that, I thought. "But they are drug dealers and this whole thing started when they asked me to have sex with them and I refused. They've hated us ever since." Umm... "Have you noticed the parties they have over there?", she asked. "I see them eating on their back porch sometimes", I replied. "No, they're always having these big, wife-swapping drug parties." Oh.
Of course, the ideal thing would be to not involved in any way, including not ever hearing about it ever, at all. I guess I have to take a side here. And after taking all of this into account, I think I'm going to side with the people who mow my lawn for free, give me cookies at Christmas time and are probably not kind of insane. Sorry, Across-the-streeters.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Problem: solved

"‘The Goonies’ house goes off limits"

"For 14 years, homeowner Sandi Preston has let fans — within reason — approach, photograph, gawk at and geek out on her property in Uppertown. On occasion, she has even opened up her house to them.
“Sandi ... has been very, very accommodating,” City Councilor Russ Warr said.
But, with an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 visitors swarming around the house almost every day this summer, Preston and her neighbors near 38th and Duane streets are experiencing fan fatigue.
“The tourism at the Goonies house has, over the last three or four years, absolutely exploded,” Warr said at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Preston recently asked the chamber and the city to do whatever they can to limit public access to her home." -- The Daily Astorian
Simple solution...

"Fayette County house from 'The Silence of the Lambs' up for sale"
"Home for sale, dungeon not included.
The owners of a Fayette County house that appeared in the 1991 thriller “The Silence of the Lambs” are looking to sell.
Scott and Barbara Lloyd's three-story Victorian near Perryopolis was the home of a serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill in the Academy Award-winning film.
The couple, both 63, put the house up for sale Sunday. The asking price is $300,000.
“The house is just so cool,” said Dianne Wilk, a Realtor for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty, which listed the home.
In the film, Jodie Foster plays Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee, and Anthony Hopkins is Dr. Hannibal Lecter, an imprisoned cannibalistic psychiatrist.
Starling seeks Lecter's help in finding Buffalo Bill, who skins his victims' corpses." -

Sandi moves and then we'll find out how she likes her new visitors.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Check it out: I got interviewed

My friend Sandi interviewed me on the topic of social media (and some other stuff) for her podcast "Making ALL the Right Connections" at her web site Go listen to it, eat some lunch, listen to it again five or six times and then check out her other podcasts. Then go to iTunes, subscribe and leave her several five-star reviews, especially this one because I'm a big deal.

I also say very nice things about the person I'm addressing with a hand-held voice amplification device in this photo, because I'm a sweetheart.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Seeing Red

Recently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced the launch of "RED: The Buccaneers Women's Movement"...
"A bold, new movement aimed at changing the way female fans connect with their home team and own their individual football experience is sweeping across the Bay Area and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are leading the charge. RED is a movement that will be led by the women of Tampa Bay, alongside the Buccaneers, to become innovators and leaders in changing the way football is enjoyed by women. All women of the Tampa Bay Area are invited to join the movement and help usher in an exciting, new era for female fans across the region. RED will provide female Buccaneers fans with year-round educational experiences focused on providing a better understanding of the game, along with unprecedented access to their favorite team. In addition, RED will re-invent the female fan experience by providing insight into topics such as: what goes on behind the scenes on gamedays at Raymond James Stadium; how to maximize their gameday experience; how to blend personal Buccaneer pride with the latest NFL fashions; as well as tips on sharing their experiences and ideas via social media platforms such as Pinterest.
RED members will also have access to exclusive networking events throughout the year designed to encourage interaction while providing practical advice on how to express their love for the Bucs into original design projects, fashion-forward team apparel and creative culinary creations."
Squeeee! Football!! Right, gals? Let the Bucs "re-invent" you and your silly girl-brain by enhancing your "fan experience" with wine, fashion tips, recipes and, if time allows, football!

Taking you from this...
Pictured: Actual woman preparing to throw actual football
To this...
"Um, like, we were promised wine?"
And ultimately to this...
"Bitch better have my casserole"
If, as a female football fan, this is not what you're looking for when it comes to "changing the way football is enjoyed by women", I am offering an alternative program and here it is, in its entirety (sorry, no articles on what a "play clock" is)...

Rouge: Getting The Ladies Up To Our (Men's) Level
(in terms of NFL football only, of course)
Here's all you ladies need to do to in order to be as knowledgeable on NFL football as any male fan:

Level 1, During the preseason *:

  1. Pick a player (doesn't matter who or what position)
  2. Proclaim "(Player you picked) looks good out there" or "...looks like crap out there" (Doesn't matter which. Alternate between them on a daily basis if you want)
  3. Refer to what you just said as a "break-down".
  4. Level 1 complete!

Level 2, During the regular season *:

  1. At some point, say "This defensive unit isn't playing as well as it can but they're showing signs of coming together". You can say this at any point during the season, regardless of your team's record at the time.
  2. Level 2 complete!
Level 3, During the postseason *:
  1. Whether your team makes the playoffs or not, say "I think we're really set up to make a serious title run next season".
  2. At a Super Bowl party, say "Who cares who wins? The commercials are the best part of the whole thing"
  3. Follow that immediately with "Of course, the commercials aren't nearly as good as they used to be"
  4. Level 3 complete!
Level 4, during the off-season, prior to the draft *:
  1. While discussing the upcoming draft strategy for your team (or every team, for that matter), say "I know they have pressing needs elsewhere, but they gotta look at an offensive lineman"
  2. Level 4 complete!
* = Whatever you do, do not post this on Pinterest. In fact, don't even mention that you have a Pinterest account.

Congratulations! Welcome to male-level NFL expert fandom!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On a mission for Mel

I've seen David Byrne in concert. I've seen Wayne Gretzky play hockey. I've been face-to-face with a Beatle. I've seen Prince in concert (three times). I'll never get a chance to see Richard Pryor do stand-up, but I did catch George Carlin live. And last week, I learned that Mel Brooks is coming to town on October 14 to host a screening of "Blazing Saddles", plus a Q and A session with the audience.

I have to be there. Not just in the audience; I need the $300 VIP meet-and-greet ticket.

Okay, first, for the "$300?!? That's absurd!" crowd; the 'value' of event tickets is totally subjective. Depending on what the event offers to whom, it's anywhere from 'absurd' to 'a drop in the bucket'. Actually, it's not a drop in the bucket, at least for me, but it is money I'm willing to spend. Not that I need to justify that to anyone, but...

  • Let's start with the fact that it's "Blazing Saddles" on the big screen. It's in the top ten (maybe top five, or even three) of my all-time favorite movies. It's a movie I will stop and watch any time it's on TV, even when it's the dirty-words-bleeped-out version shown on AMC. It's "BLAZING SADDLES", fer cryin' out loud, a movie that could never be made today and almost wasn't back in the 70's!!
  • Secondly, the great Mel Brooks himself is going to be there and talk about it. Yes, I already know that Pryor was the first choice to play Bart. Yes, I already know that they asked John Wayne to be in it and he politely refused in just about the coolest way possible. Yes, I already know that it was the first movie with a fart scene. But I've never listened to Mel Brooks tell me all of that in person.
  • Third, the $300 ticket allows me to meet Mel Brooks in person. A friend asked me, "What are you going to say to him? What do you think you could possibly say that he hasn't heard 100 times already?". That doesn't matter. His movies have given me an impossible-to-measure amount of joy during my life (nobody else ever had the guts to tell me that not only is it okay to make fun of Nazis, but that it's a moral obligation to do so). If I just get the chance to say thanks for that, it's enough.

Somebody suggested I set up a Kickstarter or GoFundMe page. Someone else suggested that I reach out to Mr. Brooks somehow and play up the tenuous "Brooks Family" connection. Another person suggested I just suck it up and shell out $300 of my own. I'm not above doing any or all of those. But whatever it takes, I'm going to be there.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Thanks for another beautiful night!

Last night, I had the opportunity to go up on the main stage in the big room at Side Splitters as a competitor in the first round of their annual comedy tournament. This was as big a deal for me as going up at the Improv a couple weeks ago and it was an equally fantastic all-around experience. So many friends came out in support, including a huge contingent from work. I love my Tampa Bay Lightning family! Right now, in fact, I pretty much love everybody.
I won my match-up versus Nancy Cannon and received compliments on my set from both featured performer Forrest Shaw and headliner Nick Griffin, both well-respected and established professional comedians. The always incredible J.B. Ball was the host and it was a tremendous comfort to have a supportive friend there in that role. It was easy to invite people to come out and see what would obviously be just a great show.

When I got into this back in January, doing my first open mic, Jeff Rey's "Leg Up Stand Up", at the Double Decker Lounge in Ybor, I had no idea how rewarding it would be but it's been nothing but great, even the not-so-beautiful nights (and there have been more than a few of those). Between meeting some really fine people like and having the chance to entertain audiences, it's been more than I could ever ask for.

I don't know when I go up for the second round of the tournament, but don't worry; as soon as I know, you'll know alllll about it.

In the meantime, huge, huge, huge thanks to everybody who came out. Your support means everything and you made this a truly special night for me.

Friday, August 14, 2015

My Brother, from Another Mother… To Clark, with Love! Guest Blog: Renee Warmack, MPA

This is a guest post by my dear friend Renee Warmack, which I present to you without further comment because I'm embarrassed...

He was quiet. I was curious. It was 1999, but I remember like it was yesterday. He sat at the end of the conference table, among the magical production team who would safely herd 13,000 patrons through the Sun Dome for USF Commencement. I was in charge of coordinating the big occasion, on behalf of USF administration. I wanted to get to know him and had a sense that he was a funny guy. One thing led to another, and BAM, I became friends with Clark Brooks. (This is the part of the blog post where I foreshadow that I discovered him---LOL).

Like Bill Brasky, who once nursed a baby flamingo back to health, Clark has helped me metaphorically rise from the dead after numerous, painful life lessons. He’s the guy who picks up the phone when you call. He’s smart, objective, thoughtful and compassionate. He’s a big guy with even a bigger heart. He loves the color purple, and Batman, drives a truck, wears puffy shirts,

loves baseball and takes time to rescue kittens. A man’s man, but made for a woman

Clark endured my going to graduate school. Tolerated my “take no prisoners” approach to producing Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay, and served as an Associate Producer/Co-writer of the film. He believed in me and taught me the importance of “serving my story” amid the noisy critics. The documentary film premiered on PBS WEDU, in 2007. He even did the leg work to get us registered with IMDB.

My admiration for Clark continues to grow, but here are highlights of the cool stuff he’s done and does: Served in the Army with an honorable discharge—(While in the service he spent time in Germany and he expresses his gratitude to the fertility gods every Father’s Day by posting messages about how thrilled he is that there’s no knock on his door from a German lad—lol); has a very successful blog called: Ridiculously Inconsistent Trickle of Consciousness; self published A Ridiculously Inconsistent Treasury; writes for Raw Charge; performs in local plays; does public address announcing for sports and ceremonies; is a walking baseball and hockey almanac—go ahead, ask him anything! …And, NOW, a standup comic.

I can always rely on Clark … he’ll often belt out a loud, long Sccooooooorrre, upon my request to give me a boost or to celebrate my achievements. He’s the brother I never had. I can be myself with Clark-- cry, cuss, scream, discuss politics and current events…and even penguins.

His creativity--ability to write, act, and now perform comedy, astounds me… I believed early on, that his talent was Saturday Night Live worthy (the vintage kind from the early years)… I’ve tried to encourage him to keep on keeping on and I only hope I’ve given him a nudge of confidence, in the many, many ways he has given me that extra boost to take another step or strive for my dreams. Besides being a tremendous writer and the funniest person I know, he’s one hell of a human being. SO--Come check him out: August 16th at Side Splitters -- and cheer him on. He’s one of the good guys and I’m proud to call him my friend.

Memory Lane photos and creative clips:
Here we are glove cursing at a Ray’s game
He produced this short video when we decided that this innocent Christmas song contained profanity

Me hijacking his book signing table at the launch of A Ridiculously Inconsistent Treasury

Celebrating at Clark’s book signing

Clark’s cool friends I got to hang with at his book signing
Here we are at the premiere of Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay:

My all time favorite is Clark’s Spooning Podcast

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Racism, family style

This picture from the Herald Palladium in Benton Harbor was kind of a big thing in my family when it came out back in 1981...
Was it because of my vintage knock-off Mike Phipps #15 Chicago Bears jersey? Was it because of my sweet Pete Rose-esque bowl cut? Was it because the drama department at Benton Harbor High School was bringing the "BUBBLING, RIB-TICKLING COMEDY" (New York Times) of Neil Simon to Michigan's Twin Cities (Benton Harbor and St. Joseph) under the direction of Mr. Robert Curran (RIP)?
And nope.
It was the utterly scandalous depiction of me helping A BLACK GIRL (Angela Hawkins, the actress playing my love interest in the show) WITH HER COAT! It's only by virtue of a miracle that she didn't get pregnant, the miracle of "that is not how babies are made".

Let me be clear: it was a big thing to one person in my family, my grandfather. My grandfather, a gentle, meek and mild man who called me "pal", bought me nature books for Christmas and renewed my Ranger Rick subscription for my birthday present every year, flipped his ever-lovin' shit over this picture. It couldn't have helped that the paper botched the captions, mixing up the names of who was in which photo, meaning millions thousands hundreds some people might have thought (and possibly cared) that Clark Brooks was a black kid. That would be bad. But far, far worse is the actual picture of me, regardless of caption, his grandson, portrayed in the paper as He Who Lies With The Negress. Just look at that picture! In my grandfather's Greatest Generation-framed mindset, I'm clearly rounding second base at full speed, with no intention whatsoever of heeding the third base coach's signal to hold up! Not only would he be unable to proudly show the photo off to friends and family, now he had to worry about scads of caramel-skinned toddlers issuing forth from this unholy union, and, I don't know, running around downtown and ruining things for everyone or whatever pandemonium a bunch of unsupervised mixed-race rug rats would create, I guess.
Happily, the whole controversy died a quick-and-painful death when grandpa's first and best idea was to call my dad, demanding that he call the paper and have them issue a retraction and a formal apology on behalf of the Brooks Klan clan. This was a huge tactical miscalculation on his part. My dad was a grown-ass man and rebellious son in his own right, who, while not perfect, held a relatively dim view of racism. As such, he wasn't exactly inclined to respond favorably to demands from anybody, especially of that type, especially from his own father. As such, dad immediately filed grandpa's complaint under "I'll do no such thing" and "Go pound sand". Grandpa should have known better but he forged ahead anyway and paid dearly for it, in the form of dad handing grandpa his ass, dusting him off and sending him on his way.

The whole thing floored me. Of course, I was happy that dad had my back, even if it was because it was at least 50% motivated by an opportunity to jam up his pops. But how could such a sweet and sensitive man like my grandfather (he was the first man I ever saw cry, when my grandma passed away about eight years prior to this) pull such a dick move? Oh grandpa.

I seem to remember that he did actually attend one of the performances, which was probably not an enjoyable experience for him, as not only did I as Victor Velasco help the shit out of Angela as Ethel Banks put her coat on, but I did so while firing off some of Neil Simon's sauciest 1963 innuendo. But he butched up, swallowed what he needed to swallow, overcame his prejudice and came out to support his grandson. So maybe he learned a valuable lesson from the whole thing.
Probably not, but maybe.

Anywho, this is another part of my upbringing and part of the reason I see things a little differently than some people in my specific demographic.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Here he whores again: two things I want you to look at (please)

Something I really hate is how I seem to be constantly begging for something from you, my readers. Far more often than I like, I seem to be pandering for you to come watch this, go click on that. Inundating you with ads at the expense of providing you with content. Blah blah blah blah.

But look how I'm not going to stop doing it. 

I just wanted you to know that it doesn't make me happy. If it helps, please know that it's not the only thing I do that makes me hate myself. 
Here we go with two items that require request your attention...

1) 6 minutes you can't have back  

I mean the six minutes you'll (hopefully) be spending when you watch me doing stand-up comedy at Side Splitters on the 16th, not this video advertising that I want you to come watch me do stand-up at Side Splitters on the 16th. Actually, you're not getting any minutes back, so I guess it's both.

All right, so when I disinterestedly asked you to vote for me in this year's Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay about a month ago, that was when they were taking nominations, determining who was worth voting for. The actual voting didn't begin until the other day. Oops!
Somehow, I'm actually on the ballot in several different categories:

Wow. First, at the risk of sounding corny and cliche'd, I'm sincerely flattered to be nominated in all of these categories. I didn't nominate myself (I didn't even go to the site, which is why I didn't know there were nominations followed by voting) so that means somebody out there (you!) likes me. That means a lot and I genuinely appreciate it. 
Secondly, you are out of your minds on some of these. That doesn't make you a bad person but there's no way do I deserve to be mentioned among the other people nominated in most of these categories. No way! That said, if I win, I will gladly accept whatever trophy(ies) come my way. Of course I will. But that doesn't mean I deserve them.
Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy is also 0-for-6 at the plate this season.
Thirdly, since you felt obligated to nominate me, then I feel obligated to ask you to go back and vote for me. Or other people who are really good and deserve awards (sportswriter John Fontana, award deserving podcaster Spike "Spike on the Mic Show" Slater and comedians J.B. Ball, Cam Bertrand and Tony Gaud, for instance). And in categories I'm not nominated for (in?), I would request your votes for friends like Vivienne Brown, Amy DeMilo, Ronny Elliott, Rob Pastore, Rebekah Pulley, Mariella Smith, Rebecca Zapen wherever you see their names pop up. I'll thank you sincerely in advance on their behalf.

Lastly, you may notice that Chili's and Cracker Barrel appear among the nominees for Best All-Around Restaurant. Please don't hold that against me or any other nominees. I think someone was joking. I hope.
In conclusion:

Friday, August 07, 2015

Broke down and anxious

On one hand, I really hate how reliant we are on automobiles in America. On several other hands, I'm thrilled to be an American. That one hand is problematic, though. If you don't have transportation on demand in America, you're kind of screwed. That happens to be my current status; without a vehicle and screwed.

A brief history of recent events:

  • A couple months ago, my starter broke and was replaced by my friends Spike and Steve.
  • Spike and Steve did something wrong because two weeks ago, the starter failed due to what was diagnosed as a short in the wiring. 
  • That problem was fixed at that time by a mechanic in Clearwater, where I broke down, basically as far away from home as I ever go.
  • No it wasn't, because yesterday (Thursday, August 6), it wouldn't start again.
Nothing makes me uneasier than needing auto repair. Partially, because I suck at cars. When I have a problem and somebody asks me what's wrong, the only explanation I can offer with confidence is, "When I jump in, I can't make the wheels go around and go places." I know there's gas and electricity and oil involved, with sparks and belts and pulleys and pistons and combustion. I think an alternator performs some kind of alternating function. Beyond that, if you were to tell me that you just pour all that stuff into the space under the hood, mix it all up and wave a gris-gris over it, I'd have no choice but to believe you. 
Okay, Papa Legba, I need to drop off my dry cleaning.

The anxiety that not having a vehicle brings on attacks me on a number of levels:
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • How long is it going to take to be fixed?
  • How am I going to get around and do what I need to do?
  • What if they find something else wrong?
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • Oh God, am I going to have to ask people for help?? (If there's anything I'm worse at than cars, it's this)
  • How much is it going to cost?
I arranged last night for a tow truck to pick it up and take it to a shop less than a mile from my house. That cost $84. When I got there, a lady listened patiently and attentively as I offered a more detailed version of the brief history above. When I finished, she just wrote "Won't start" on the service order. Steve gave me a ride down to work, where I arrived two hours before I was due in. That's when I learned that breakfast at the hotel next door is $20, "but that includes eggs any way you like!". That's when I learned I would be skipping breakfast today. 
Anyway, as of this writing I'm at work with no idea how and when I'm going to get home or to the repair place and freaking out a little bit more with each passing minute. 

Let me tell you, NOTHING makes you appreciate freedom like not having your own car. Well, that and being some kind of a prisoner or slave, I guess.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

What else I did last weekend

On Monday, I went on at length about what I did Sunday night. The Saturday prior was also an exciting day as I spent it officiating my second wedding. Regular readers will probably remember the first one which happened almost two years ago at Jimbo's. This one happened at Pass-A-Grille Beach in St. Petersburg and was quite an adventure.
Out of respect for the participants and their families, I'll just say that due to a number of near-impediments between the inclement weather (sideways torrential rain and wind), resultant bad traffic, some logistics confusion and unexpected scheduling difficulty, a wedding that was scheduled to start at 1:00 PM didn't happen until around 4. Throughout, I tried to be a calming influence, reminding everyone involved and present that between the bride, groom and myself, we had everything we needed to get the deal done and there was no way we weren't going to have a wedding. It may not have been as planned and everybody who was invited might not have been there, but there was going to be one more Mr. and Mrs. leaving Pass-A-Grille than had arrived there that day, damn it.

And of course, it did happen and everything turned out just fine. And thanks to the power vested in me by the internet and my own noble sacrifice (it was not a large scale affair so I waived my normal fee of an introduction to one of the more morally casual bridesmaids, although I was more than fairly compensated in terms of food and drink), these people can now legally eat cake...
Congratulations, Todd and Sandra!

And remember, I am available, undefeated (2-0), and currently taking bookings to serve as officiant at your next nuptial bliss ceremony!

Monday, August 03, 2015

A beautiful night at the Improv!

I don't have a bucket list, mostly because I've had the opportunity to a lot of very cool things during my life and I think that asking for more would be greedy on my part. But if I did have one, last night would have been on it. That's because last night I got to do stand up comedy on the main stage at the Improv here in Tampa. As a lifelong comedy nerd, I've been familiar with the Improv brand pretty much forever...
"For over half a century, the Improvisation Comedy Clubs have remained the premiere stages for live comedy in the United States. Over the decades, the talent who has played center stage represents the Who’s Who of American Comedy, including Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, Lily Tomlin, Freddie Prinz, Andy Kaufman, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Jay Leno, Chris Rock, Dane Cook, Ellen DeGeneres, Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler, Jeff Dunham, and Dave Chappelle."
Of course, the Tampa branch hasn't been around that long but I've seen Steve White, Bobcat Goldthwait and one of my all-time favorites (and friend of this blog) Maria Bamford perform there. Getting the opportunity to do my stuff there, to stand in the same spot where those great comedians and so many others have stood and get laughs, is nothing less than an honor.
I had known for a while that I'd be part of a showcase put together by friend and mentor Tony Gaud but in the days leading up to it, I was getting pretty antsy. J.B. Ball, another local comedian that I admire and respect, advised me to treat it just like any other performance in any other room. I understand that logic and happy for the advice, but I kind of wanted to be at least a little awestruck. I wanted to really appreciate and respect the history of the place and the magnitude (at least to me) of being up there.
That hit a peak when Tony introduced me from the stage and I made the walk up the steps to the stage. I'm pretty sure nobody noticed but I paused for a millisecond to soak it all in... the lights, the applause, all of it, AHHHH!... before going into my routine, my best six minutes. That went well; I didn't forget anything, I got laughs throughout and applause at the end. Making everything even better than it already was, good friends were in the audience lending support.
When it was over, I went to the bar and redeemed one of my two free drink coupons (compliments of Improv management) and relaxed at The Comics Table, an area near the restrooms where the comedians hang out. As far as I was concerned, it might as well have been Booth 1 at The Pump Room.

I spent the rest of the night with my fellow comics, offering high fives and fist bumps to each other after they finished their sets. It was like a baseball dugout welcoming home teammates after they hit home runs. I love those people!
When I left, a party at an outdoor table at a nearby restaurant who had been at the show offered compliments on my set as I walked to the parking garage. What a perfect ending to a truly beautiful night.
Oh, and also this comment card...
"Bring back Rio, Levi, Clark, Waters. Cool comics"
I'm the only white guy among the four he wants to see again, so there's that.