“Ok, Three Years Have Passed… I Think I Can Finally Think Coherently about This Time I Went to See a Comedy Open-Mic in My Hometown”

I still remember this Chicago Reader (I’m from South Bend, Indiana and they circulate the Reader at the main library there) article about “Indiana comedy” and how up-and-coming it was, an article whose author went to the Dew Drop Inn and performed, only to showcase… exclusively Illinois comics. The idea was that people were apparently so amazed that Indiana was sophisticated enough to HOST A COMEDY EVENT (apparently one other time the Drop housed Dustin Diamond, Screech, of Saved by the Bell, whose subject matter was purportedly very puerile, if not necessarily boyish).
And then with me, I’m mostly into music, given to certain bouts of watching hour-long Dennis Leary bits where he mercilessly makes fun of French people, his own Irish people, health nuts, and people who whine too much, in general. Comedy sort of sits there in my mind, usually, as a kind of necessary evil: when so many problems pile up in the world to where it actually becomes laughable, in comes comedy, to, if not make sense of it, at least get everybody laughing and vibrating on an affective plane which is tolerable in the mind.
So there I was on some Tuesday night rambling in to the comedy segment… I’d thought about getting up and giving my own performance but unbeknownst to me you had to show up early in order to get on the list. I’d totally expected it to be like three performers, who would eventually start chain smoking and watching Amy Schumer slides on a pull-down overhead projector for part of the night.
Ok the first thing I saw that really pi**ed me off (I promise this isn’t going to be a giant complaint session) was the host mandated that “When somebody says something, laugh.” He literally made you laugh at the stuff. Now, my exact problem with this, along with how I obviously don’t like being phony in life in general, is that some quote-unquote “comics,” like Bill Hicks with his trippy existential spiels and Michael Che with his approachable black rhetoric, establish discourses which actually aren’t so much even funny as they are true, and necessary. This gets back to why I can’t OD on comedy. I don’t want to be a spectator, in life. I don’t want to be “entertained,” as Carrie Brownstein said. Life is an exchange. It always will be.
But to make a long story short, the subject matter of this comedy night was so gross that it actually caused an alteration in my personality for multiple weeks directly after it: like I remember writing blog posts there in the summer of ’15, about the genius of Fetty Waps and weather he like bubble butts or apple bottoms, you know, Conde Nast type stuff, and I would literally insert dirty jokes in there, just because I felt like I had to, sort of like when one animal chews up food and spits it into the mouth of another.
A bunch of people were really gross saying stuff that was a lot grosser than that but the list went on and on, one old man getting on and rejoicing that “They tore down my high school and made it into a gay bar, which was great ‘cause all my old teachers were still there,” one 35-year-old, gray-haired and extremely handsome gentleman charming us with the reminiscence that “When I first met my Asian ex-girlfriend I knew it was special… I thought, I want to put my di** up her a**hole… that was my exact thought…”, a single, silver-tongued 20-something relating us that she wanted to date an epileptic because “the sex would be incredible,” the host then getting up to reassure us that after acquiring a new roommate, he had personally walked over to all the neighbors to warn them that it was a black person.
When you approach South Bend from the South (and yes it is on the same STREET as the White Castle in downtown Indianapolis although one time a girl working there literally didn’t know where it was) [1], you eventually merge onto this way-too-wide one-way street, bespeaking its economic boom of yore concurrent with the manufacture of Studebaker cars. You go down this hill and you see the “skyline,” which is about 14 or so tall buildings, and you might catch a glimpse of Notre Dame’s “golden dome,” which actually contains two thirds of a pound of real gold flakes, per one particular urban legend. After that, about a mile into town, you’ll pass Mexican taquerias, you’ll pass bare-bones diners next to banks that get robbed so routinely that they mention them in the diners in complete monotone, you’ll pass strip clubs full of mouth-watering strippers flashing “pizza boys,” as they call them, as they come in to deliver a pizza at one in the afternoon, you’ll pass cement lots which USED to house diners and now look like miniature versions of that huge rock quarry on I-94 going into Chicago, you’ll pass the homeless shelter, people with deformities, and girls working at the Enterprise rental agency that are so beautiful that their faces cut through your very constitution. The Dew Drop Inn sits right in the middle of all of this, on the south side of downtown. If you look at it, actually, around nine at night, you’ll get an awesome view of the sunset in the west, as it shines on Chicago, the place generally held as laughably superior to Indiana. And you’ll never know what lies in that sunset. Usually in Chicago the buildings are blocking it, anyway.
[1] I also had this bizarre instance at work down here in Terre Haute of this guy asking, in befuddlement, “They have weddings in South Bend?”

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