Friday, December 3, 2010

The "Comedians with Disabilities Act" Sells Out Sacramento Debut!

The debut of the "Comedians with Disabilities Act" at the Sacramento Comedy Spot played to a sold-out, standing-room-only audience on Friday, November 26th, and was an undisputed hit.

When we first booked the date, we had some concerns about drawing a crowd.  That Friday was, after all, the day after Thanksgiving, so we figured a lot of people would be out of town or occupied with all their guests.  To make matters worse, that was also Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, and countless thousands would be getting up before dawn to go line up outside stores all day in search of holiday bargains.  The odds were against us.

We kicked the odds' asses.

The media we managed to get - during a holiday week, no less - was a big factor.  First we pulled the radio interview with the three of us on Tuesday on Capital Public Radio's "Insight" show with Jeffrey Callison.  Then, the day of the show, we had the double TV/print whammy.  This was all Eric Mee.  First, the article on Eric Mee in the Sacramento Bee came out in the weekend "Ticket" magazine insert, both detailing his story and talking about that night's upcoming show.  Then Eric appeared on Good Day Sacramento on Channel 31 to push the show with morning TV viewers.  You never know how much of a difference this kind of stuff is going to make.  In our case, though, it was a big one.

We arrived at the Sacramento Comedy Spot just thinking we'd be happy if we could manage a half-full house.  Then we watched as more and more people started flooding in.  And these were not people I knew.  For all the Thanksgiving/shopping reasons mentioned above, most of my people were unable to attend.  Seven folks in my circle were able to make the scene.  The rest were all strangers to me, which is such a treat in comedy I can't tell you.  That's the vast majority of the house never having heard any of my material before.  That's comedian gold, folks.  Much of the draw was to see Eric after so much focus on his story, and I was extra pleased to see several canes and sight dogs with audience members entering the place.  Word had gotten out - Eric's people were, for a chance, getting some long overdue representation in comedy circles.

Quickly, we realized we had a sellout.  More chairs were brought out from the back to seat more people.  Those filled.  The last few people (including a relative of mine) who showed up bought their tickets and had to stand in the back of the room and watch the show.  And not a one of them complained.

Our producer, Keith Lowell Jensen, was the host for the show and got the crowd warmed up.  Then Steve Danner hit the stage and lit the place up.  As I said elsewhere, this whole thing really started because of my seeing Steve on stage for the first time a few months ago, and being blown away by his comedic talent.  He was true to form.  Steve slayed the crowd with his tales and observations, and being the kinetic performer that he is, never stopped moving for more than a couple of seconds during his whole set.  He was all over the stage, and the crowd loved him.

And then came Eric Mee.  Eric is the youngest of the three of us, at twenty-one, and is a cyclone of energy.  His natural and ever flowing comedic senses combined with brilliant physical comedy and blaring outbursts blew the place up.  The crowd adored him, and he worked them like a maestro.  Eric Mee's talent is raw, infectious and addictive, and it was a pleasure to see him work - since this was, it turns out, my first time to actually see him on stage.  Keith took my word on Steve's abilities since he'd never seen him live, and I did the same with Keith's glowing review of Eric.  We both ended up looking really, really smart.

I headlined the show, being the wily veteran of the group (I've been doing comedy a whole two months longer than Steve), and I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to have a warm-up like Steve and Eric.  Not just because of what great comedians they are (though that's a big part of it), but because one of the things I normally have to deal with in my comedy is getting the audience over their initial discomfort of the disability situation.  Some audiences never quite get over it, resulting in the occasional tepid set for me, and the frustration of knowing that the same material that killed two nights before didn't fly as well for this reason that's out of my control.  It didn't even occur to me until I hit the stage that night that that issue was moot.  They were ready for me, and for once, I could just kick back and do my thing without having to win them over first.  It was liberating.  I had a fantastic time with my set, made more fun by being able to slide in jokes about Steve and Eric, something we all ended up doing in our material without discussing it beforehand.  The crowd loved this, too.

So our inaugural show - our test run for this concept - turned out to be a smash.  We couldn't have asked for a better night.  We now know that people are ready and quite willing to laugh at the off-beat rantings of a little person, a blind kid and a wheelchair guy.  Our "laugh with us" instead of "laugh at us" concept seems like a winner, so it looks like the "Comedians with Disabilities Act" is here to stay.  We're already in talks for future bookings (announcement on one of those coming very soon), and have high hopes of turning our show into a tour.

So watch here for more details on the CDA, and make plans to catch our act yourself!  You may have seen comedy shows before, but I guarantee you, you haven't seen it done OUR way.  We'll see you there.

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