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Day # 26 by Joe Piccirillo

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One of the twisted joys of this trip is watching Pete and Torio grow accustomed to comedy on the road.  A lot of people think comedy is non-stop fun when in reality it's a lot of blank stares and deep thought until that one brief, yet glorious moment when you've figured out how to end a skit, a joke, or a conversation with that woman you've just mugged.  I derive pleasure from watching the guys' hearts sink as they watch hours of comedy at these clubs -- they are learning how tough and cruel and strange it can often be.

Bookers, for example, are hilarious.  They're often a mix of deadbeat dad and 13-year old girl.  As you may or may not know, about two weeks before we arrive somewhere, I call and set-up guest spots at clubs.  Yesterday I received a call from Larry* from space*. 

He said, "Is this funnyman Joe Piccirillo?"  He sounded like Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. 

"Yes," I replied. 

"I want you to come in for a guest spot on Wednesday,' he continued.

"Great.  Of course.  Who is this again?" I asked.  I had made about 8 calls to clubs in the area and didn't have my spreadsheet of booker names in front of me.

Larry replied,"If you don't know who I am, then forget it!"

Then, he hung up.  This actually happened. I called back the club and some woman intercepted the call.  She told me that Larry can be hurt and offended easily and that I should try to "reconnect" with him later. I pictured him stretched out on the bed on his stomach with his feet in the air reading Cosmo.

After 2 more calls that day, I finally got him on the line. I told him that of course I knew who he was -- the problem was my phone connection.

"I run the top club in space* three years in a row!" he yelled.

"Larry*, I know. That's why I called you," I replied.

It was still a strained relatioship.  Then, a few hours later I received four(4) calls from the guy.  Apparently, our press agent had gotten us in the local paper.  Suddenly, everything was fine.

"Funnyman Joe Piccirillo, you must come to my club!"

As soon as I arrived, he welcomed us and offered me a great selection of tap waters from behind the bar and toilet from which to choose.

Then, he introduced me to his kids.

"Hey!  Kids!  This guy's from Boston!" he yelled.  The kids ingnored him and continued talking.

"You kids shutcha heads!"

He handed me a pen and asked me to sign my name on the big board behind the stage.  I've never seen a room filled with signatures of comics I've never heard of... even accidentally.  I would be joining the ranks of Roger Millford and Agnes Sigler.  Finally.

So what did I write?

I printed my name.  Printed it.  The last time I printed my name was in 7th grade.  Don't worry.  I used quick thinking: I signed my name over the printed name so it looked like I was retarded.  To make matters worse, I wrote just above my name: "I'm funny." 

it's good when you have to convince a wall and the people looking at it that you're funny. 

Luckily, I used it during my set.  When a joke fell flat, I simply pointed at my quote to reassure the audience.

The show was successful and so we celebrated... by ordering Domino's pizza and watching reruns of the Golden Girls on Lifetime.  Good times in Cleveland.

*booker and club names changed to protect my future bookings.


Behind the Scenes with Pete

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Okay, so we checked into our new motel in Cleveland on Monday evening. To be fair, we haven’t had a chance to really experience Cleveland yet and we’re planning on shooting some material for the website and film on Thursday and Friday - so Cleveland, please don’t take this entry personally. Our motel is not exactly in the best part of town even though those damned pictures on Priceline.com made our motel seem like a $30/night resort. Fool me once, Priceline… But it didn’t even take 24 hours to realize that we were potentially doomed here.

It was early Tuesday morning and I hadn’t slept well because I typically don’t sleep well my first night in a new location. My instinct (especially in this case) is to be like Jean Reno in The Professional and sleep sitting up in a chair with one eye open all night long. It wasn’t until early in the morning that I actually began to get some good sleep. That was when my world exploded.

You know those times when you are awoken from a deep sleep so abruptly that you don’t really know if you’re awake or not and all sense of logic is distorted? That was my state of being when the smoke detector in my room inexplicably went off on Tuesday morning. The alarm was so disturbing that I honestly believed an eagle of death was invading my room. I leapt to my feet wearing only my underwear and a pair of grandpa socks. I would think most rational people might clothe themselves, walk outside, and maybe go down to the lobby to discuss the problem with the motel attendant. Not me.

I ran to the smoke detector and ripped it off the wall to see if it was wired to alert the front desk. Alas, it was. Then, sheer panic. My eyes darted around the room because I realized we had set up large production lights the night before to shoot green screens for the documentary. Clearly these lights should not have been used in a motel with electrical sockets that I knew couldn’t handle them.  The lights were unplugged now, sure, but in my mind, the firemen would never believe it - so my internal panic ensued.

Delirious, I made the decision that the best thing to do was to pick up the large lights on stands and find a place to HIDE them. Keep in mind, I truly believed that the entire emergency response force of Cleveland was going to show up at my door any minute. After that plan failed, I decided to eat the bullet. I had to go to the front desk and explain. I thought that my arrest was inevitable.

I put on the first pair of pants and shirt I could find and started ironing them down with my hands (because in my foggy mind, no one would trust a man with wrinkled clothes). I walked out of my door and discovered that the fire alarms on ALL of the walls of the motel were blinking and wailing. In that moment of horror, I thought  the entire hotel would have to be evacuated (because of ME). I walked towards the lobby calmly, still trying to push the wrinkles out of my clothes with my hands, hoping that someone would sympathize.

When I got to the lobby, no one was there except for one man on his laptop in the dining area. With the shrill alarm louder in the lobby than anywhere else in the hotel, I looked at him and asked, “What’s happening?”

“Not sure,” he responded, “happens all the time, though.”

Then, Boom. The front door opened and the girl who should have been running the front desk runs in and yells, “What do I do?! No one ever told me what to do when this happens!”

Then suddenly, I felt relief. I was confused, but now fully awake.

“It happens all the time?” “What do I do?”  Those words played over and over in my mind.

I didn’t do anything wrong – no fire trucks came, no people came out of their rooms - this is simply par for the course in this hotel. 

So if anyone is looking to find a cheap way to have your life threatened for fun, let me know. I’ll be glad to give you the hotel info, but not until we get safely out of here…


Day # 24 -- Photo Uploads of Death by Joe Piccirillo

Monday, January 24, 2011

We finally left the security blanket of the east coast and headed to Cleveland, OH.  I hadn't told anyone before we left but I was looking forward to a room with many lamps but only one working light bulb and one of those "trick" heaters that work like those gag bottles of peanut brittle only instead of seeing leaping snakes when I turn on the heat, the heater instead releases carbon monoxide.  I was happy to have all of the accommodations waiting for me upon arrival. 

We played a punk bar last night and it was great.  The crowd listened and laughed.  Torio (our intern) opened the show and settled everyone down and got a lot of laughs from and gave a few jabs to the audience.  My favorite part of the night, however, was shortly before I was about to start the show, the owner pulled me aside and said, "Well, maybe we should wait.  Those guys are putting money into the juke box."  

There are many times in life when one is humbled -- the beginnings of new love, the birth of a child -- but none moreso than realizing that one's time is worth less than $1.50. 

The show was succuessful and the owner was cool so now on our self-appointed day of rest, I'm taking time to reflect on the past few weeks.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  These are worth about 15 each.  Enjoy.

Toms River, NJ (pictured, weird sign; not pictured, double murders/cancer clusters)  If anyone knows what this sign means, I will let you stay in my hotel room at the Cleveland Hojos for free.

 

I tried to pretend I was texting when in reality I was taking a picture of what will soon be emblazoned on the empty billboard I saw as we drove into Cleveland, OH.  Even though I can't see his lovely date, I imagine she is a carbon copy of this guy in a wig.   

 

This is a photo of my hotel room in Cleveland, OH.  You can see the Torio and Pete laughing at the conditions (e.g. no phone, heat, sense of hope, etc).  What you can't see are the random fire alarms that go off for hours without stirring fire fighters, managers, or even other hotel guests.  For a long time I thought my depression had manifested itself as a piercing alarm.  Then, I realized: we're just at the Hojos.

Website for the show I did last night.  How do I know I've still got it?  Top billing over Vegan Slop.

Check back, soon. 

Your Joseph


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