Ever been to Brantford before? If you have, you know these people like to drink(my soulmates, perchance.) If you haven’t been, imagine a city full of the offspring of Lindsay Lohan and Scott Sidick*, with a legal drinking age that has been changed to “whatever.” There you have it. Brantford. Also, they have one of the few A&W’s in Ontario that doesn’t require Rolaids.
I leave my house around 4:00pm. I’m supposed to meet my driver at Finch Station(John Mayer guy again-he’s in my Rodney post.) I plan to meet a friend for a snack around Yonge & Eglinton first. As I walk along Dupont, it starts to lightly snow. I barely even notice it.
When I exit at Eglinton Station, the snow is coming down heavier. Again, it doesn’t faze me. As I sit in Cam’s Place, and chat with a fellow writer over pulled pork nachos(awesome,) I get a call from my driver. (Do you like the way I refer to comedians with cars like they’re my servants? Who’s the princess now, Kate Middleton?) He’s now going to pick me up right where I am. Even more awesome than the nachos. Bless.
At 7:00pm I walk outside. Ack! Blizzard! Where did this come from? Haven’t my Uggs been through enough this year? The road’s not even plowed yet. All the cars coming up Yonge St. are going so slow, it’s as though they are all being driven by seniors and/or my mom. I wait twenty minutes in the freezing cold. Finally he pulls up. Inside the car, JMG(John Mayer Guy) makes a comment.
“Bradford on a Saturday night… Oh the life of a Canadian Stand Up Comic…”
Did he just say “Bradford?” I think so, but I’m sure he meant “Brantford.” I know they sound the same, but they’re two different cities, in two different directions.
Further up Yonge St, it’s clear that the roads and weather are not going to co-operate. I check Twitter(I’m addicted-don’t judge me) and other comics on the road are getting blasted by the snow too. Yielding on to the 401, which is a complete snow field, unplowed, my heart starts to pound faster. I hate being late for gigs. I consider NOT being 30 minutes early, being late.
“Well, Bradford better love us for driving in this mess for them,” JMG says.
There it is again! “Bradford.” This time I have to say something.
“Hey, you know we’re going to Brantford, right?
“And that’s just off the 400, right?”
“No, that’s past Hamilton off the 403!”
“Are you sure?” Yes, I’m sure. This is the same comic who had to make 5 U-Turns on our last road gig together. I bring up the gig sheet on my phone to prove myself right.
“See, Brantford… Oh, Fuck! The gig’s at 8!”
“I thought it was at 9?” Ya, you also thought is was in Bradford.
“Me too!” Most of these one-nighters start at nine-I swear, but when he said to meet him at 7:00pm(which turned into 7:20pm) I just assumed he was giving us the right amount of time to get to Brantford. But he gave us the right amount of time to get to Bradford. And driving on the 401 is resembling a cross country skiing event.
I call the organizer ASAP to let her know we’re going to be late. I get her voicemail, and leave a message that goes on so long, I see she’s calling me back before I’m even done babbling.
“So, where are you guys?” She asks. You know how to play this game, right? When you’re running late, and someone calls to see how close you are, you always lie and say you’re a little closer than you really are.”
“Um…. we’re on the 401.” Not lying… yet.
“You mean like Burlington?” Burlington? Ha! We’re not even at Pearson!
“Almost. More like Oakville.” I ask if the headliner’s there yet, and she says no. Fewf. Maybe we’ll all be late. Ten minutes later, she calls me back.
“Mark just got here. He says it took him an hour and a half to get here from Oakville.”
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKK! We are fucked! My anxiety is on the way up the CN Tower. I need to calm myself down. I ask myself, “What would I do if I was at a show that started over an hour late?” (Thanks to the Spice Girls’ last tour, I know how that feels.) The answer… Drink. Obviously. And I know Brantford will agree with me. Yes. As long as the venue doesn’t run out of beer, we should still be loved. For the rest of the car ride, my phone rings every 15 minutes for an update on where we are. We pass at least a dozen cars in ditches(possibly over exagerrating in case my agents read this,) and my last call from her is while we were pulling off the 403. (Well, almost pulling off the 403. You know the rules.)
“You’re so close!” She cheers. I’m pretty sure she’s way more understanding than a Torontonian would be in the same circumstance. But late, or not late, I’m still running to the facilities to pee before I show face.
As I walk in the room, I know I have that “only new person to walk in the room in 2 hours” look, that tells everyone I must be one of the tardy comedians.
“You better be funny!” Says a random dude, on his way to get his 16th bottle of Bud Lite. I’m so happy small towns over stock the lite beers for comedy shows. That 1% cut back on alcohol from a regular beer may, in my opinion, delay the intoxication level it takes to create a heckler.
“Oh I will be!” I snap back. Where the hell that cockiness came from, I don’t know. But I immediately wonder if I have “cut in line for beer” in my rider.
JMG takes the stage, as our host for the night. It’s a big crowd- you couldn’t possibly fit another person in here. The streets of Wayne Gretzky Parkway must be empty. JMG, like most hosts, asks if anyone’s from out of town. One lady shouts, “Texas!” And that leads us to our first heckler. Only minutes into the show.
“And she managed to make it on time!” Damn! He killed it! I’m no heckler enthusiast, but that was a good one. The crowd went nuts too. Plus, we did kind of deserve that jab.
Yikes. My turn. By being late, we have given this crowd an extra hour and twenty minutes to drink, of which, probably won’t help me. And I’m sober! I’m not even on their level! Ahhhhhhhhhh! I hit the stage. I honestly have no idea how this is going to turn out. I’m still full of the anxiety I had in the car over the pipe dream of being punctual. For some reason, sometimes that edgy energy just works. I’m not going to lie. I’m kind of killing. I hate saying that. It sounds too cocky. I should just say, “I did my job, and I did it well.” But in the Stand Up Comic world, we refer to that as “killing.”
Since the weather is so nasty, the headliner agrees to close the show. By “close the show,” I mean, the host(JMG) doesn’t have to go back on at the end, just to say “Goodnight” and give announcements. In a comedy club, the host always has to make announcements post-headliner, like “Come back next week when we have Bing Bang Boo here,” or “You can hire Yuk Yuk’s for your cooperate events. Check out our website for details.” Here in this Brantford banquet hall, the only announcements we could possibly make would be, “I hope you can walk straight when you stand up,” or “Have fun at Jackhammers.”
The 401 is now plowed. The snow has actually stopped. JMG puts his XM radio on this favourite channel, which consists of all acoustic versions of songs. I relax for the first time in hours. When I arrive home, I get a text from the gig organizer, who I now feel quite bonded with. She writes,
“Hope you guys made it home safe! Thanks again! You missed me kick a drunk ass out that told Mark(headliner) to suck his cock. How do you guys do it?”
I hope she was asking about stand up comedy, and not actual Felatio. Either way, I’m not sure.
*If you got the Scott Disick reference, I know you watch reality shows involving the Kardashians. And now you know, I do as well.