FRESNO, Calif. - Yesterday, I ate lunch in Los Banos, Calif.
Los Banos, as I understand it, is Spanish for "The Bathrooms." I'm eating lunch in a town in California that is named "The Bathrooms." On purpose (both the naming and the lunch eating). Lunch is surprisingly good, so there's a chance that my Spanish isn't quite what it should be.
I was taking a little day trip from Fresno, where I'm performing my live comedy show at Fresno's annual theatre festival. This is my sixth consecutive year performing in Fresno. I really like Fresno, which should be evident by the number of times I've written "Fresno" in this paragraph. Fresno.
Here are some random moments from the trip thus far:
• My youngest brother, Chase, came up from Southern Cal to see my show. I have a joke about him in my show - a joke based around the fact that he's a cop in L.A. And, given the audience's consistent reaction, it's a pretty funny joke. I warned him about this joke before the show, partly out of respect for him, partly because he could break me in half without much effort and partly because he has the ability to put out an APB on my van. Not necessarily in that order. It went well. The audience laughed, and he laughed, and we all laughed. Guess I'll find out for sure how he felt when I start driving home next week. Nothing says, "I did not find your comment amusing," quite like a manhunt.
• I got to be on TV in Fresno! Well, on Internet TV. There's a local Internet talk show that does interviews with the festival performers each year. I wasn't initially scheduled, but I ran into the host and asked him if he'd have me on. He said, "Sure, just come by on Thursday." Cool! When I show up, I'm told that Thursday is always his day off. Always. So when he invited me, he was essentially saying, "Sure, come by when I'm far, far away." But there's a guest host. Fine. Any chance to help promote my show.
The guest host arrives and has no idea that I was going to be there. He also has no other guests, so it's going to be me and him for an hour. Awesome. That's like a real, in-depth interview! We can talk about my influences and stuff. Five minutes into the show, it's clear to me that the hour is going to consist of him telling disconnected stories while I sit beside him and nod, trying desperately to find an opening to at least say the name of my show. Half an hour into this, a woman walks in the studio with an accordion. She's doing a show, too. That means she gets to be the next guest and I get to leave after the break! This makes the second time in my life that an accordion has been a welcomed sight. Well, OK - the first.
• I forgot to make posters for this show, so I've been hanging makeshift posters all around town. They are basically bits of my promotional fliers cut up and duct taped together and slapped on various surfaces, remedial-collage style. With duct tape. It's obviously duct tape. It's embarrassing. These "posters" give off a certain "if the show is even half as lame as this poster, then may God have mercy on us all" vibe. And this is coming from a guy who loves duct tape. And collages. I keep telling myself that it's better than nothing. But deep down I know that it's actually far, far worse than nothing.
• I thought it would be cool, after a performance, to throw copies of my poetry book into the crowd. You know, kind of like how Elvis used to wipe his sweaty forehead with towels and throw them into the crowd, and people would basically murder each other over them? Well, I'm happy to report there were no attempted murders during my one and only book tossing. In fact, people reacted a bit like I was throwing Molotov cocktails. Like, "Hey, I just came to hear some jokes. Why are you throwing crap at me?"
I was shooting for Elvis, but I landed just shy of Gallagher.
Barry Smith's column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.