(Sunday Paper, Volume III, Issue 8)
I had a really great time in the Carolinas.
I'm very happy to have been a part of the inaugural North Carolina Comedy Festival.
And I had a really enjoyable week in both the comedy and traveling departments.
Let's get to the recap, shall we?
We'll start with the comedy.
The North Carolina Comedy Festival went pretty much how I hoped it would go. There were a ton of shows - it was tremendous work to put together and I would qualify it as a success. I keep thinking about how much work it took and how hard something like that is to have go well...and it passed with flying colors. So that was great.
For me personally, I think it went well. My Friday show was pretty full, the Wednesday show was not as well attended, but in both cases I was happy with how my material went over. I'm looking forward to watching some video of my sets because I don't think I have a solid memory of how they went and I need video confirmation that they went OK.
There were a lot of very good comedians here this week. In addition to the nationally touring headliners (I was able to see Todd Glass, who I had not seen before) there were stand ups from across North Carolina and the United States. (There were also sketch and improv groups, but I only saw a couple of the improv groups - and they were good too.) 95% of the comedians I saw were very good. It was an impressive collection of talent.
But perhaps the best thing about the festival might have been the opportunities to meet and chat with people. There were opportunities during the day and after the shows for people to hang out and in addition to doing well on stage everyone was super-nice. I met comedians who I had not met before from New York, different cities in North Carolina, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Texas. There were a couple of comedians with whom I had crossed paths before, and it was nice to see some familiar faces. Hopefully I'll be able to get to their cities and see them again because I genuinely enjoyed meeting them and enjoyed watching a lot of them perform. As always, I feel like I learned from the experience - it was enjoyable and valuable.
And though comedy dominated the week, I have a bunch more to tell you about. So for one last time for the foreseeable future we're breaking format and going straight into the bullets:
*As you know I started the week in Columbia, South Carolina and stayed with Kevin and Danielle (and Zoey). If you need a refresher about who Kevin is, this is a good overview from when he took over the Sunday Paper back in August. On Monday I got to sit in on Kevin's class at the University of South Carolina and that was really neat to see. (Kevin also drove up and came to my Friday night show in Greensboro.) It occurs to me, as I write this, that I essentially watched Kevin teach the same kind of class that we were in when we became friends in college roughly 20 years ago. So I guess that's a nice circle of life thing.
*On Monday afternoon we swung by Spirit Communications Park, home to the Columbia Fireflies, the Mets' Single-A affiliate. This was part of the plan - I wanted to hit their team store and see if I could get anything with a Mets logo on it. (I was not successful.) What I did not expect to find, upon arriving in Greensboro, was that there was another minor league team there. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are the Marlins' Class-A affiliate, and I got to check out their park on Thursday. Looks like I'll have to head back this way during baseball season.
*I think I took care of myself and my routines during this trip. I ate fairly well (we had a delicious barbecue buffet in Columbia that wasn't exactly 'eating well' but I didn't overdo it and I'm proud of that), I slept better than I had in hotels recently (perhaps the fact that I was up really late the first night watching the women's hockey gold medal game helped me be ready to sleep well on ensuing nights), and I also didn't have a lot of unstructured down time. I did my regular Wednesday through Friday work from the hotel (and a Starbucks on Wednesday) and had the chance to chip away at another writing project. I felt good about the balance of networking and the work responsibilities I found on the trip. That bodes well for future travel.
*Finally, on Saturday Kevin and I had the day to do something in the area. I didn't really come up with something other than checking out some restaurants in downtown Greensboro...so we revisited our original idea from when we first planned the trip: college basketball. Originally we wanted to try to get to a Duke game - but tickets there were ridiculously expensive. So Friday night we bought some cheap tickets to the Wake Forest-Notre Dame game in Winston-Salem. All I wanted was a close game - and that's what we got. With the game tied at 71, Notre Dame hit a 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left and won the game by 3. It was awesome. And then at dinner after the game back in Greensboro our server recognized Kevin as a professor at the University of South Carolina. She was home for the weekend working at the restaurant. No one recognized me as a comedian from the festival in that very city. So.....chalk one up for Kevin, I guess.
*I need to get back to some regular stage time in Boston...I think I mentioned before I hadn't booked much with the festival on the horizon, so now it's time to get back to that. If you planned on seeing me in Boston on Wednesday at Limelight - DON'T. That show has been canceled for this week. (But it still takes place every other Wednesday and you should support it.) My next date right now is Sunday night March 4th at Slumbrew in Somerville. That's a good show - come on out!
*If you're in Greensboro, North Carolina (or Raleigh, or Wilmington, or Charlotte) I can't recommend the comedy scene enough. The Idiot Box was the home base for the festival here in Greensboro and they have shows Friday and Saturday nights - check it out if you're in town and support them.
*This was a really great experience. I think I need to start traveling more for comedy...I don't know that I can constantly swing a week at a time away from the family (I really miss them, though the fact that they were not at school and I wasn't terribly upsetting their daily routine was a good consolation), but if I can figure out that balance I think this trip was a sign that I can handle the travel portion of that equation. And I think I would do OK at the comedy portion as well.