I'm in Madison, Wisconsin--one of the most vibrant cities in the Midwest, for the first time since the Pandemic started. Madison is home to my favorite road-food spot of all-time: Paul's Pel'Meni--Russian dumplings so addicting --I almost always stop for them when traveling through. If it wasn't for the state of Wisconsin, I couldn't be a comedian. Wisconsites love simple things: beer, brats, cheese, and having a good time. I had a show last night in Poplar--about two hours North of Eau Claire. Thanks to Grandma's Marathon, I had to drive hundreds of miles to find a hotel room for less than $300. I performed at the Green Door, in Beaver Bay, Minnesota on Saturday night. The last time I was at the Green Door, I met someone that attended the same rain-soaked Foo Fighters show as I did, at Lollapalooza in Chicago, in 2011. One of my favorite stories to tell on stage of all time, came from that concert. Ironically, I saw the Foo Fighters again at this years Lollapalooza, for the first time since that show. It's how I became a comedian - I wanted to bring the same energy, and emotion that the concerts had, to my shows.
This time at the Green Door, there was a guy in the audience that looked like Charlie Manson, so I sparred with him from the stage. He looked like the real deal, so I treaded carefully, given his biker jacket regalia, and beard. His girlfriend kept shouting-out that I was "close." which I took to mean, "to getting stabbed." When she came-up to me after the show, and showed me a picture of him with the real Charlie, I realized I'd misconstrued her words. On my way out of town, I got pulled over and received a speeding ticket. This is the reason I haven't changed the video clip on my homepage. Of course, yin/yang was in full-force, so the next morning, I had one of the best breakfasts I've ever at had at Chimborazo,, an Ecuadorian restaurant in Columbia Heights, MN. After making my food, the owner, Carlos, cooked himself up the exact same dish--a good sign I'd made the right choice.
In some aspects, I learned more how to live like a normal human being during Covid, then any other year. Like everyone else, I had to throw out my prior routine, and start from scratch. It was kind of like being an astronaut. I had to monitor my food and germ fluid supplies, and make sure my 3 masks were always clean, and ready to use. Instead of performing live comedy, I had to do it on my computer. If you left your house without your mask---it was like leaving behind your cell phone. Also, I went from making myself one or two meals at home for myself a month, to almost every meal--Portillo's, Al's Beef, and Lou Malnati's Pizza aside.
It took me a while to figure out what I needed to do daily, to satisfy my desire to not feel hopeless. Mentally, I needed this challenge to survive the absurdity of it all. In some ways, I worked harder in 2020 than I ever have. I was determined to not let Covid steal one day from my existence. More importantly, I knew there was a long list of items on my daily list that needed to be done, in order for me to consider it the "Perfect Day." The most important item on the list: loading the coffee machine the night before. If I was too lazy to do it, it meant I was already behind schedule. The number one item on my daily list: exercise. I had to do it, without going to the gym. That meant biking or walking no matter what the weather was like outside. Before the coronavirus, in the winter, if I saw someone on their bike, I'd say to myself, "I could never do that." Turns out, I can, and did. I biked somewhere around 3,300 miles last year, about half of them on the beautifully-designed 606 Trail. When the snow was too high, I'd put on my gym shoes, or boots, and trudged through the snow for hours just to break a sweat.
Other items on my daily list, besides having something good to eat: writing new jokes, or working on other projects. That involved a lot of research and learning. I listened to podcast after podcast focusing on the subjects I was most interested in. Some great ones: Breaking Bread w/Tom Papa, Scriptnotes w/ Craig Mazin and John August, the Pete & Sebastian show, w/ Pete Correale, and Sebastian Maniscalco, and Mike Birbiglia's Working it Out. This infused my brain with ideas, and got me in the creating mood. The highlight for the day: watching movies. Some great ones: The Persuit of Happyness, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Capernaum, The Master, Lion, Hell or Highwater, Private Life, Into the Wild, Groundhog Day, Being There, Sideways, Inglorious Bastards, Nebraska, Crazy Heart, The Apartment, Little Miss Sunshine, The Big Sick, What About Bob?, The Road Warrior, Midnight Express, and Life of Pi. Some great Documentaries: Searching For Sugar Man, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art, and May It Last: The Avett Brothers.
Of course, it's only fitting that this post, properly titled, could only be ruined by Father's Day. I spoke to my Dad for exactly 4-minutes. I know, because I looked at the digital time-print on my phone, after my Dad said to me unexpectedly, "gotta go." This is all you need to know about our relatiionship--love you Dad !