A Week in the Desert

Hi! I'm Jake!

Today, I am in Colorado Springs, hanging out at the comedy club's condo. I had a show last night and I have 2 shows both tonight and tomorrow night. I decided to stay down here to catch up on writing. It's National Write a Novel Month. My goal is to finish one chapter by the end of the month.

Tuesday was a long day. We drove 11 hours from Arizona -speeding all the way- to get to Comedy Works. We arrived in Denver about 15 minutes too late to make the show.

The good news is I completely missed the snowstorm. I left last Tuesday, October 27, 2009. I brought a really funny comedian with me, Mark Lee. We started our tour in Albuquerque. We ate at Taco Cabana, one of my favorite Albuquerque restaurants. It was 50 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Who knows how warm it was in Taco Cabana? They don't provide that info to guys like me.

When we got to the hotel, we had to wait. Normally, the booker pays for the room in advance and we just check in and go to our rooms. The front desk dude told us the booker, Donnell, or "D" as he likes to be called, had already been to the hotel but he hadn't paid for the room yet. Mark and I were tired from driving. We wanted a nap. D eventually shows up and pays. Mark and I get naps. We had to share a hotel room- which is atypical for most shows- but we didn't care. We were tired.

Our show was at this place called Paparazzi's, a predominantly black club. It was hoot. I love doing black clubs! I mean, I like performing everywhere, but black clubs can be super cool. I get to be as mouthy as I want. I always get to be as mouthy as I want, but I get to be real mouthy at black clubs.

The show was kind of like a pro gig, but it was also like an open mic/ showcase. The emcee was this guy whose initials are B.M. We had worked together before in Albuquerque, at Laffs, the comedy club that took a dump and went out of business the previous year.

I asked B.M. how many people were going to perform that night and he gave me a weird answer, "I usually do about 10-minutes up front and then, unless a comic doesn't do well, I keep it tight in between sets. If a comic doesn't do well, I might do a couple jokes to get the crowd back, but I keep it moving." Mark and I looked at each other like "What the heck?"

The show started 45 minutes late, at 10:45 p.m. Then, B.M. went long. He did a 25-minute set. The comics he brought up stuck to their time. They got laughs. There was this especially funny guy-but I can't remember his name. Nevertheless, B.M. did at least 5 minutes of material and crowd work in between acts. By the time I hit the stage, it was past midnight. B.M. had probably done about 45 minutes overall. I was only supposed to do 30-40 minutes and I was the headliner! I did a tight 30. The crowd was tired, but they stuck with me. After my set, B.M. did 5 more minutes. Funny guy, nice guy, but you gotta be kidding me!

Whatever we got paid and got some free dinner. We did the gig to make gas money and have a place to stay on our way to Tucson. Plus, it was fun. I love doing shows!

Also, the snowstorm in Denver began. The first foot of snow dropped that night. I made sure to post Facebook, Myspace and Twitter updates to let everyone know that I was enjoying 50 degrees while they suffered.

The next day, Mark and I had an easy drive to El Paso, only about 5 hours. Before leaving, we raided the continental breakfast at the hotel. We ate, drank coffee, and snagged some snacks for the road. Comedy is like guerrilla warfare: you snag the supplies that others drop. Unless we're famous, comics don't make much. Bookers tend to be pretty tight-fisted.

El Paso was a trip. I didn't realize how big it was. It was 50 degrees there too. I told my Colorado friends all about it. I told them how even though they had all kinds of snow, at least they could look on the bright side: I hadn't seen a flake.

The hotel we stayed in was shady as a willow tree. A lot of hotels don't have continental breakfasts, but this place didn't have coffee! Who doesn't have coffee? I got my oil changed this week and those guys had coffee. I was staying at a place less hospitable than Grease Monkey! The motel just gave the vibe that my car wasn't a safe place to leave stuff and neither was the room. Also, just like Albuquerque, Mark and I had to share a room. Whatever.

The booker was this comic named Gibran. Cool guy. He did me a favor and lined up a guest set at the local comedy club. The plan was to do a set before our show so maybe I could get work at that club eventually. I was hoping to make more money the next time I came back to town.

The crowd at the comedy club was cool. The owner gave me an icy reception though. Gibran told us to show up at the club at 6:45 because the show started at 7:00. We showed up at 6:30. They weren't open yet. The show didn't start until 8:00. Dang. Mark and I were beat. We could have used that extra hour to sleep at the hotel. Oh well. No biggie.

The box office lady went to get the owner to introduce us. He didn't want to meet us yet. She suggested we come back after 7:00 because they'd be open by then. We got back at 7:00. They were just opening the doors. The owner didn't want to come meet us yet. No biggie. One of the guys from the club took us over to the pool hall next door, talked to the bartender there, and got us some free pool. Mark and I played pool. I took a dump there.

We came back to the club at around 7:30. The owner wasn't available yet. Okay, no problem. I still didn't know how much time I was doing. Also, I had a guest set scheduled, but Mark didn't so we were trying to get him one. Clubs use guest sets to evaluate comics and see if they can work there. It would have been nice to get him a set.

Meanwhile, Mark and I talked turkey with the bartender, this really cool guy who used to live in Tucson but moved back after his ex ruined his life. Apparently she divorced him, then came to his job and made a scene. That got him fired so he moved back to El Paso to regroup.

Finally, I met the owner of the club. He barely looked me in the eye. He asked why I was in town. I told him I was performing at Maverick's, the one-nighter I was doing for Gibran. He said "You drove all the way down here to do an open mic?" That wasn't condescending at all. I told him I was in between clubs and I was doing the gig for gas money. I also told him I appreciated doing time at his club, and I asked if Mark could get a set too. He told me he didn't time for Mark. He said he didn't even want to have me on his stage, but he was doing a favor for Gibran. Basically, he slammed both Mark and me in the same sentence. Nice to meet you, too.

The emcee of that show was sleepy. Nice guy, but no energy. He did 20 minutes. The middle act that week didn't show so the owner gave both the emcee and headliner more time. Wait a sec; I thought there wasn't time on the show for Mark? Your 30-minute middle act doesn't show and you don't have time for a professional comedian to do 7 minutes- for free? Cool enough, buddy.

I had to wake the crowd up after the emcee was done. There were only 25 people in the room that was supposed to hold about 300 people. They didn't have much energy and no one had given them any energy yet. I had a pretty good set. I got them laughing. I woke them up.

Jake Sharon comedian El Paso Comic Strip

We watched the headliner for about 15 minutes. He started off his act by asking the crowd who was from out of town. He spent 5 minutes doing that - I'm not exaggerating. Then he did some jokes. He was okay. I don't remember his name. Mark and I had to go. We said goodbye to the bartender. I went to say goodbye to the owner. He was in his office watching the game. I said "Thanks for the time. I gotta run to my next set." He said "Good luck." Then he turned around to watch the game. I'm pretty sure he didn't watch my set.

It was rainy in El Paso that night so not that many people were out and about. Our show at Maverick's had about 15 people, 10 watching the show, and 5 or so hanging out at the bar talking. Gibran told us normally the place was packed. I hear that at least once a month. "You should have been here last time. It was standing room only!" Whatever. It was a gig. We needed gas money to get to Tucson.


The show was fun. It was kind of like Albuquerque but the emcee stuck his to his time. The opening acts were both decent. Then, Mark and I both did well. We both had a ton of fun with the crowd we were given. We're both pretty physical on stage.

comedian Mark Lee  El Paso,sun city comedy

After the show, we did a video interview with some local guy. He kept asking about my merchandise- as if that was the primary point of my act. I just sell shirts for gas money and to get my name out there. He said he showed up late and that that was the only part of my act he saw. Plus, the interview was done with a hand-held camera, outside, with dim light and distracting passersby. Whatever.


We had gotten a late checkout in Albuquerque, but we got the hell out of that El Paso hotel room and went to Dunkin Donuts. We don't have Dunkin Donuts in Colorado for some dumb reason so I was super-psyched to find one in El Paso.

Jake Sharon Dunkin Donuts El Paso

The we booked it to Tucson. The club has reduced the nights they are open. When I first started, the club was open Tuesday through Sunday. Now it's only open Thursday through Saturday. Consequently, the money has gone down too. This is happening all across the country. Everybody's thinking about the bottom line. Great: I finally get my act together and the money goes back to what I was making when I sucked. Sweet.

I love the club and the people at Laffs. They are super cool. The owner, Gary Bynum is cool and so is his right-hand man, the guy that booked me, Gary Hood. The headliner, Kenny Smith was really funny. I featured at the club (so I went in the middle) and Mark Lee emceed.

We did their New Talent Night. Tucson has a decent amount of comedians but not much stage time. So, there were 30 comedians on the show! One chick, who was supposed to do 4 minutes, did 9 minutes. Gary Hood was flashing the light at her like crazy so she'd get off. She ignored it and kept going. When Gary got on the off-stage mic to tell her to get off stage, she said "How about a nice bowl of shut-the f*** up Gary?!" I don't think she'll be on stage there for awhile. Before her set, she asked for advice. I told her to have fun so the crowd can have fun. She had fun. I should have told her to stick to her time. Her friends, who I thought were going to take her side and get all pissy with the club, instead chewed her out for disrespecting the club's and all the other comedians' time. Good friends. Good for them. They were cool.

Because of budget cuts, the club no longer has a condo for us to stay in. Now they put us up in a hotel room. Cool. I'm easy to please. Even though the club is open Thursday through Saturday, Thursday is the open mic. So, they only book the comics Friday and Saturday. That means they only book the hotel for us Friday and Saturday. So we stayed at Gary Hood's house Thursday night. Cool. I slept like crazy. I hid a bunch of my business cards throughout the house so he could find them like Easter Eggs. I was bored.

The hotel has a pool. I went swimming in it during the 80 degree weather. I made sure to let all my Colorado friends know how nice it was down there. Colorado had 2 feet of snow. I was in a swimming pool getting some sun. Suckers!

Our t.v. was broken so I called maintenance. This dude showed up to haul off our t.v. and get us a new one. He asked why were in town. I guess it seemed weird that 2 dudes were sharing a hotel. We told him we were comedians. He also hinted about how he could sell us weed. No thanks.

I went swimming. Mark read by the pool. I wanted to go in the hot tub, but these 2 ladies were already in the tub. They were 2 pretty/ pretty big black ladies and they were staring at my skinny white body as I walked their way. Suddenly I felt insecure for a second. They looked like the kind of chicks that would knock me down a peg for being so bony. I decided not to intrude. Okay. I'm a wuss.

The shows there were great. Friday first show was the best! It was close to being sold out. The rest of the shows were pretty good, but not as good. It was Halloween weekend. We worked hard to make them laugh on those other shows.

On Halloween, the club ditched the 1st show and only had a 10:00 show that night. We didn't have to show up until 9:30. We had a long day waiting. So, Mark and I checked out Tucson's downtown. That was cool. It was nice out. I ran through the sprinklers at City Hall. We walked around We found some gifts for our girlfriends. I got mine some socks. She ended up saying the socks were ugly. I guess they kind of were, but they were really Southwestern. They had cacti and really loud colors.

We then went to 4th Ave. Tons of people were out buying Dios De Los Muertos paraphernalia. It was Halloween, time to prepare. I was a bit claustrophobic in most of the shops. I was looking for a couple skull earrings for myself. If any place would have them, it would be Tucson. I didn't find what I was looking for. I had to get out of the shops. I ran into 2 people in there and ran over 1 kid. It was annoying.

I went to this one shop called PopCycle. Everything there was made from reused or recycled materials. Cool store. I got Neko a miniature pulp-fictiony poster magnet. It was made with reused copper, recycled glass, and reused magnet strips. The picture was this chick with a gun and it said "She Kills. She Thrills. She-" I can't remember the rest. It was cool though. Neko liked that way more than the socks.

The show that night was so-so. I still had a blast and everything, but getting the crowd to come aboard was a bit of work. After the show, Kenny said that we still had good shows and all, but after a great show like Friday's 1st show, everything else wasn't going to seem as cool.

After the show, some of the staff had a party. They invited us. Mark decided to hang out at the hotel. The party was fun. A bunch of the staff was there, a bunch of chicks were dressed up in tastefully sexy costumes. They had 4 dogs. If you pet one dog, you have to pet them all; They'll demand it. I probably spent 30 minutes of that party petting dogs. Justina, a really cool chick who works at Laffs, was dressed up like Alice In Wonderland. She told me to come outside and quit being anti-social. I told her I was petting dogs.

The party was pretty fun but I had to go. It was about 3:30 a.m. Suddenly, a fight broke out. This huge drunk dude dressed in a gay inmate costume, had beaten on a little scrawny white dude. Scrawny white dude had a black eye and blood coming from his mouth. Big prison dude had accused of the scrawny guy of hitting on his girl. Misunderstandings ensued. This chick said something about calling the cops if need be. The big dude got all mad because he thought he heard that the scrawny white dude was going to call the cops. the little guy kept attempting to approach the big guy to explain his side and everybody kept holding him back to prevent the big guy from beating him again.

Eventually everything worked out, but it caused me to stay at the party a little longer. I didn't feel like going out driving away from a loud party fight. Not that I had anything to hide, but it was the middle of the night on Halloween and there was a loud party fight. The last thing I needed was a tangle with the cops on my way out of town. I left around 5:00 a.m.

Sunday morning, we asked for a late checkout at the hotel. I went swimming and used the hot tub. The hot tub jets were weak so when a maintenance guy went by, I asked if he could turn tell me how to turn it up. He said he'd get someone to do it. The weed guy came over. He turned it up. He left.

Pretty soon, though, I noticed the water level rising. The "jets" were basically the system they used to fill the hot tub. The hot tub flooded all over the patio. Water went everywhere. I didn't know how bad it got, but as I left to go back to my room, I noticed that the water was approaching some of the other guests' ground-floor rooms. Uh-oh. I probably should have told somebody.

We left the hotel and started our trip to our next gig. The landscape changed dramatically on our way from Tucson to Pinetop, Arizona. It was beautiful. The late afternoon sun made it look like we were on another planet. We listened to three King Crimson albums in a row, The Court of the Crimson King, Larks Tongue in Aspic, and Three of a Perfect Pair. We also listened to some Oysterhead. Progressive rock was the perfect soundtrack for our preternatural surroundings.



We got to the casino a day early. We had to. We didn't have a place to stay that night in Tucson and booker for the casino gig in Pinetop arranged for us to stay at their hotel. When we got to the casino, we were both very please to find out we got our own rooms. We both needed alone time. We ate the pizza we bought on the way there, then we parted ways. We did our own thing the rest of the night. My t.v. in my room was broken at this hotel too. I called maintenance.

While I waited for maintenance, I walked outside and called my younger brother. He and his wife had a baby boy that day. I called him, too. I love talking to my brother. The hotel maintenance lady spotted me and signaled me. I had to let my brother go for a minute. Instead of fixing my t.v., they decided to moved me to another room down the hall. I moved my stuff then called my brother back. We were both tired so the conversation was short. I watched Cash Cab, called my girl and went to bed.

The next day, I wrote, practiced some new material, then we went to town to buy food. I bought and ate an entire rotisserie chicken. The show was fun. Both of us were high energy. B.J., the guy in charge, told us he'd give the booker positive feedback about the show.

We got paid and then I watched Mark gamble. He ended up being up $20 at the end of the night. His strategy was to play one quarter per slot machine. If it paid out, he stayed. If not, we cashed out and moved to the next machine. We also got free pizza and $5 of free gambling money for joining their gambler's club or whatever. Crack dealers use the same strategy- get them hooked with a freebie so they'll spend all their money with them.

The next day we left bright and early. We wanted to get back to Denver to get on stage at Comedy Works' New Talent Night. We had coffee and left by 8:00. We didn't eat. We just drove.

At this point, Mark and I had had a few minor tiffs. Anytime you spend an extended amount of time with another person, the chances of that happening are pretty high- especially if you are both 2 very-opinionated comedians. Especially if you are over-caffeinated and under-fed. Mark and I had been hanging out non-stop for a week, sharing every hotel room we'd stayed in. We'd already logged 1600 miles together and we had about 600 more miles before we completed the trip.

Plus, I drive like a maniac and Mark hates that. I totally cut somebody off in El Paso. We had a little dispute because we were listening to a podcast about the new laws prohibiting people from text messaging while driving. I told him it wasn't a big deal. He said it was and went on to explain why. I disagreed, but I noticed I didn't text while driving the rest of the trip.

Anyway, it was cool. We are both pretty laid back and we recognized the nature of the trip.

We sped home to Denver. We didn't stop for anything! We had the makings of PBJ sandwiches in the cooler. Instead of eating at my favorite Albuquerque restaurant on the way home, we plowed through. We made sandwiches on my trunk when we stopped for gas. We didn't stop from Albuquerque to Denver- not to pee, not for anything. I didn't even stop to leave my revenge crap in Raton. I'll explain that later. The point is, none of this paid off. We ran into a traffic jam in Trinidad, a traffic jam in Pueblo, and final jam in Colorado Springs. We got back 15 minutes too late to do the show. At this point, I was too wiped to do the show anyway. Whatever. I got back and went to my girl's house. We watched the movie Daywatch, an awesome Russian movie. Good movie.

I'll tell you one thing - and I'll probably tell you again- I hate being home. The road is the best place to be.