My Week In Cleveland

(Sunday Paper, Volume I, Issue 26)

As you know, I spent most of this week in Cleveland.

I love visiting other cities.

I'm far from a world traveler, but I like getting around the United States - usually it's a trip that revolves around a ballpark visit.

But I think, if things continue on the current trajectory, this is going to happen more often for comedic purposes.

And I got a taste of what that would be like when I spent the latter part of this past week in Cleveland for the Cleveland Comedy Festival.

I was spotty posting on social media this week so let's begin with a quick recap:

I had three guaranteed shows in Cleveland. I got there Wednesday, and Wednesday night I had a performance in what I think is called Ohio City - just west of downtown. The venue was called The Bop Stop and it's mainly a jazz venue but they do comedy there once a month in conjunction with the folks who run the Comedy Festival, so they hosted some shows this week. It's a great place. (And, like last week, here's where I'll throw in my What I've Been Enjoying piece, because I loved The Bop Stop. I had a chance to get to know the owner a little bit and he was great to talk to. The venue is built for jazz and is apparently well-respected as a jazz venue nationwide. I want to learn more about it, but I also want to tell you that if you're in the area you should check out The Bop Stop and support it, whether or not there's a show there. Great spot. OK. Back to me. And next week we'll be back to the regularly scheduled Sunday Paper format.)

So Wednesday night was a fun show, and then Thursday night I was back in the downtown area in the theater district. I did a late show - 10pm - which was lightly attended, but no worse than other shows I've done at different times in different cities these past couple of years. And then on Friday I had my contest preliminary. I get anxious with contests because there's so much I can't control. I need to learn to put that part aside and just perform comedy. Which I did on Friday night, mostly well...I had one spot where I tripped up and maybe that cost me a chance to advance to the final, maybe it didn't, who knows. I probably needed to be perfect to advance and I wasn't perfect. But the other Boston comedian here advanced to the final along with another one from Chicago and one from Kansas City who probably had the best set of the night. I'll probably never figure out how to do well in comedy contests...I just need to worry about what I can control, which is me doing well personally in a show that also happens to be a contest...if that makes any sense.

So, that's the comedy portion of the week. Oh, I also met a lot of people from a lot of different cities and everyone was nice and it's great to have those connections and get my first comedy festival under my belt.

As for the city, I have one writing assignment for a story about things to do in winter in Cleveland - so I spent Wednesday during the day gathering information. Cleveland has these visitor centers with tons of brochures and the people are really helpful. And, turns out, there is a lot to do in Cleveland.

Thursday during the day I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Kathy and I came to Cleveland back in 2007 and I remember being underwhelmed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (We also had an 8-month-old baby with us, so that might have affected our enjoyment of any kind of museum.) This time I was somewhat overwhelmed. Mostly by emotion. I don't know where that came from. Part of it was nostalgia, I think, for times gone by which some of the music marked. Part of it was for the tragic endings faced by so many of the musicians whose stories were told in the museum. But there was a big part of me that saw the handwritten lyrics, or congratulatory notes from producers, and got a little choked up about the fact that people achieved their dream, or if it wasn't their dream, had the opportunity to share their gift with so many people and then later had the opportunity to be recognized for that in this Hall of Fame. So, bottom line, I appreciated this visit more than I had nearly a decade ago.

After the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I did my ballpark examination. The Browns' stadium had nothing open that I could find - no team store or anything, so that was disappointing. And though Progressive Field didn't offer tours (I was really hoping with the 70-degree weather coming on Friday I could do a ballpark tour), I made a purchase in the team store and a guy there offered to take me out onto the concourse so I could look around. That was cool...the ballpark is a lot different than ten years ago - they've done a lot of renovating.

Friday I went east to an area called University Circle - I poked my head quickly into the Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland History Museum, and neither seemed like the best way to spend my time, so I made my way to the cemetery where James Garfield and his wife are buried beneath a monument. This I posted on social media: after all that traveling I ended up there on the one day of the year they're closed to the public before they close for the season - the next day would be the season-closing ceremony, coinciding with Garfield's birthday. So Friday, now that I think about it, with the contest preliminary and the Garfield memorial visit, was a pretty big bust. But it was 70 degrees and I got to walk around and explore, so I guess it wasn't all bad.

Work-wise, I'm going to try to get the most out of the visit to Cleveland. After having been here I wonder if I can sell a couple of more ideas for articles to other publications in addition to the one I knew about before I came here. It was good to have the chance to travel and perform somewhere besides the northeast...I definitely would like to do it more often. (And of course couldn't do it without the support of my amazing wife.) If I can mix in some work to help pass the downtime in between shows, we might be on to something here.


*Best historical fact of my trip to Cleveland: OK. So one of the things I used to teach was the 13 colonies. And when the colonies developed they had northern and southern boundaries that set them apart, but a bunch of them didn't really have western boundaries. Rhode Island did, of course, because it was a certain parcel of land set aside...but others just stretched as far west as the colonists desired. That much I knew. Turns out, Connecticut's western stretch went to where Cleveland is today. (It adds up if you look at a map - though I'm not sure how this conflicted with the land Pennsylvania probably claimed at the time.) Anyway, this Cleveland land was called the Western Reserve, as in Connecticut's Western Reserve. As in, for example, Case Western Reserve University. Neat, right? I didn't know where that term came from.

*I should mention the Comedy Festival wrapped up on Saturday with, before the contest final that night, a couple of opportunities for the comedians: a tour of the comedy club Hilarities followed by a Q and A with an Atlanta club owner. Both were amazing opportunities - Hilarities is an outstanding comedy club - seats almost 400 and it's part of a great restaurant/bar/theater complex. And it was great to hear from a club owner/booker in the Q and A...I definitely learned a bunch, and had things I knew and/or strongly suspected confirmed. Interesting, too, to hear the perspective from the managing side, which he also does as the manager of a well-known comedian and sitcom actor. (Winner of the festival contest Saturday night was determined after this issue went to press. [Read: I needed to sleep and didn't want to update this after I got back from the show. {Because I had to be at the airport for a 6:20am flight.}])

*I hinted at this on Facebook this week - here's a weird thing: I'm really having trouble sleeping in hotels these days. I don't get it - I love being in a hotel. I really do. And I love sleeping. (I really do.) But my past few trips - Chicago last year, Pittsburgh and Cleveland this year, despite my desire to sleep late and through the night I wake up multiple times and end up giving up around 7am or so. I used to be so good at sleeping through any noise and now change in environment seems to really affect me. I also struggle with naps - not at home - I can nap at the drop of the hat there. But in a hotel I'll toss and turn for a while until it doesn't even make sense to nap anymore. So, bottom line, I'm something of a tired traveler as you read this and I'm returning home. I need to figure that out if I'm going to be spending more time on the road. 

*Big weekend of shows coming up next week - Friday night in Framingham, Saturday night in Cambridge, and Sunday night in Milford, New Hampshire. All of the details for those shows are at the 'Comedy Shows' link above.

*I realize I wrote a lot in this Sunday Paper. Thanks for bearing with me - I guess I had a lot of information to spit out, and I've also spent a lot of time alone in a hotel room (not napping, clearly) and this gives me something to do. So thanks for reading! And have a Happy Thanksgiving.