cruel and unusual comedy part 2

The desperately awaited climax of Some Old Bullshit, continuation of previous post (originally posted Nov. 4, 2007) about Doug Stanhope:

…I immediately contacted Stanhope and let him know I had found a venue. He quickly replied that he was no longer available on three of the four different dates he’d previously offered; Thursday was my only option. Um, OK… Thursday it is! The show must go on!! Started advertising show on LPNH website, and on various New Hampshire email discussion lists and forums. Ticket sales are underwhelming, but that’s OK; I am confident people will show up.

In the interim between then (to reiterate, this was back in July) and the date of the show on Oct. 18, I followed up with the bar owner via email to confirm that renovations on the back room were going as planned. Got the thumbs up. Followed up with him in person when I was in the bar. Got the thumbs up. One week later, while attending a friend’s kid’s birthday party, the guy who is actually doing the renovations on the back room brought up the subject of the Stanhope show. He said “You do realize there is NO WAY the back room is going to be ready in time, right?” Um, OK… the show must go on!

Immediately contacted bar owner, requesting confirmation that, as originally agreed, if by chance the back room was *not* ready in time for the show, he would close the main bar to normal business in order to accommodate us. He confirmed. Now I just needed to provide a stage and a sound system, as the front of the bar had neither.

Contacted PA rental companies. Designed, printed up and delivered paper tickets to the bar for sale by waitstaff. Contacted stage rental companies. Designed and placed ad in Hippo, Manchester’s free alternative weekly paper. Designed, printed and distributed promotional flyers to bar and LPNH volunteers. Advertised show on assorted online event listings. Contacted largest radio station in Manchester about ticket giveaway.

One week before show time, got delightful offer of use of free stage from fellow Free Stater. Only caveat is that I must move it myself… and it wouldn’t fit in my car. Put word out that I needed help from someone who owns a truck. Kind-hearted Free Stater I’ve never even met, who works in the bar, offered to pick it up and haul it for me. Hurray! Then find out that person who possesses stage is being evicted, and if I don’t get it today, it will probably be trashed. Stage is picked up with literally hours to spare, two days before show. Wonder if Hairclub for Men serves women as well?

Bar owner emailed me that he had wireless mic installed. Not entirely sure what this means, and ask for clarification; do I still need to rent a PA? After several days, no response to emails and phone call. Borrow PA from LPNH member, just to be safe.

On Oct. 17th, everything seems to be taken care of. Have stage, have PA, online ticket sales have picked up. Haven’t actually heard from STANHOPE in a few weeks, but hey, he’s a professional… An alcoholic professional… OK, won’t think about that right now. Notify bar owner that I’ll be arriving around 7:30PM, a full half-hour before the scheduled time to close the bar to normal business, and to let me know if he needs anything.

On Oct. 18th, head for Manchester with cash box loaded with one dollar bills, Libertarian propaganda, tablecloth, and 3/4 head of hair. Arrive at bar at 7:15PM and… there’s no parking. Anywhere. Now, this may sound bizarre to non-New Hampshire residents, but in my 2 1/2 years of living here, I’ve never once had to search for parking. But the circus is in town, you see, and apparently Granite Staters love Barnum & Bailey and no I am not making this up!! Forced to park a mile from the bar, down by the river, and haul box full of supplies up a hill and down Elm St. If it turns out the PA is needed, I’ll have to walk back to the car. Arrive at bar at 7:45PM, sweaty, smelly, hungry and thirsty. Worked all day and haven’t had dinner yet. Bar owner immediately tells me to go stand outside, sell tickets, and prevent non-ticket-holders from entering the bar. LPNH member who has agreed to man the door is there, but promptly disappears to go re-park his car. At this point, decide that I’ve clearly picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

After 8:00PM, it’s pretty much out of my hands. LPNH members are manning both doors of the bar. Stage is set up. People are pouring in; at-the-door ticket sales are brisk. There’s just one thing missing… a comedian. I figure out how to set my cell phone on vibrate, to make sure I don’t fail to hear the call that surely must be coming. No calls are forthcoming. Ponder the sound of one hand clapping (this is a reference to my favorite Simpsons episode, in which Bart and Milhouse are in a peewee golf tournament and Lisa tries to teach Bart zen calming techniques.)

At 9:00PM, an odd little man in a white tuxedo jacket enters the bar and identifies himself as Stanhope’s road manager. He asks if we’re ready for him; I say yes. He asks if arrangements have been made to “settle up” at the end of the night. The blood drains from my face. Surely Stanhope isn’t expecting to be paid in cash that night? He never made any mention of that. Trust that my status as a Libertarian (cuz we’re “The Party of Principle”! :-D ) will serve as an IOU.

Stanhope arrives, and his manager asks for directions to “the Green Room”. The Green Room?! Fuckin’ hell, this is NEW HAMPSHIRE, buddy! We’ve got gun racks and moose heads, but green rooms?? Bar owner sticks Stanhope in the back room of the bar (and, presumably, sticks a big drink in his hand).

Minutes to showtime… the bar is standing room only. Try to make conversation with odd little stage manager. Ask him his name; he replies “Tonight, my name is Bernard Harrenkarren.” Um, OK….

Showtime. Make a few opening remarks, thanking the owner of the bar and various individuals who helped with the stage setup. My preplanned witty comments vacate my mind and the premises. Fortunately, I haven’t quit my day job.

There is not one, but two, opening acts! The first is “the Homeless Comic“. I’d tell him not to quit his day job, but considering that he’s freakin’ HOMELESS, I’m guessing he doesn’t even have one. The second act, Brendon Walsh, was pretty funny but I don’t recall the guy’s name (thanks, Homeless Comic!).

Stanhope went on around 10:00PM. He was hilarious (I was hoarse afterwards from laughing). I definitely think he even made an effort to clean himself and his act up a bit for an audience made up (partially) of New Hampshire Libertarians. He was nicely dressed and skipped the abortion-as-entertainment bit. He was quite freaked out by the presence of an octogenarian female, addressing her repeatedly as “Ma” from the stage. He was also freaked out by the table full of Free Staters in the front row, although I’m not quite sure why (do we have “FSP” birthmarks on our scalps I’ve never noticed before?)

After the show, Stanhope hung out in the smoking area (i.e. outside) chatting with guests, selling videos and posing for photos. Introduced myself to him; he was very personable. While posing for a photo, he played with my hair and made a moustache with it across his face. As I needed to get up for work the next day, I soon exited stage left, with an LPNH bodyguard to protect the $1000+ in cash I had to walk the one mile back to my car. Oy vey!

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