Behind the Scenes with Pete

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Behind the Scenes by Pete Jackson

Have you ever seen the movie The Blues Brothers? There is a point in that movie where ex-cons Jay and Elwood Blues finally get the band back together and one of the first gigs they book is at a small-town country/western bar. Let’s be clear: this band sings the blues and they booked one of their first performances at a country/western bar. Upon arrival, the band walks up to a stage where there is a barrier of chicken wire that separates the performers from the audience. (That chicken wire prevents tossed beer bottles from striking the performers when the crowd is displeased.)  This was the very first thought that raced through my mind the minute we walked into our comedy venue in rural New Jersey the other night.

Originally we hadn’t planned on booking any shows while we were in Jersey, but when some local press asked where we were going to be performing, we needed an answer.

Enter: The Landslide Saloon.

In the midst of rushing out of NY, we booked a show at what we later discovered was one of the proudest country/western bars in northwestern New Jersey. To top it off, we would be the only act for the night. Let’s be clear, Joe & I would have to put together our own hour-long comedy show and perform it to length in front of a country/western audience. Up until now, Joe had been performing shorter sets in comedy clubs with a pre-booked list of comedians and I was simply filming it.

The problems:

1.)  I have never performed comedy.

2.)  We needed at least one stand-up comic to warm up the crowd before Joe’s performance.

3.)  Joe needed to tailor his 45-minute ppt act for a country/western bar crowd.

4.)  The thought of the crowd throwing beer bottles at us.

The solutions:

1.)  I would host the show and get the audience started with some mild banter.

2.)  Our intern Torio would be the opening comic and warm the crowd up [In his job interview Torio briefly mentioned that he had performed stand-up a few years earlier. That’s right, we actually listened during your job interview, Torio.]

3.)  Joe would turn his act into a blend of stand-up and powerpoint in an effort to keep the crowd involved.

4.)  ???

How did it go, you ask? Just like Jay and Elwood, we figured it out…

Special thanks to the Landslide Saloon and their patrons for making “Conan Or Bust” an absolute success.


Thursday, January 13, 2011