Orillia 4 – 1 Barrie
I’m pretty sure that the folks in Orillia can come out of their laboratory, white coats covered in char, blood, and that goo that you see on the bottom of Petri dishes, shake their fist at the sky, and above the crash of thunder, their faces strobe lit by lightening, and scream “The experiment was a success.” It hasn’t been since the Edinburgh fest that I had to do more than two, three shows max a night. If performing four shows in one night isn’t bad enough, four different rooms with four different audiences make it crazy fun.
The day started off with a flier, when Andrew Evans and I left Toronto. With a call for a dinner at 6:00pm and the first show at 8:00pm, we thought leaving at 3:30 would give us plenty of time to settle in, get to the hotels, report to the meeting place, figure out the material we wanted to do, all that fun stuff. 3:30? Hour-and-a-half for the trip according to GoogleMaps? No sweat.
Then the snow came.
It wouldn’t be an out-of-town show in the winter for me if I didn’t have to stare out my windshield at a canvas whiter than an easel when Picasso’s got writer’s block. The first show for us was supposed to start at 8:00pm. We passed the “Welcome to Orillia” sign at 9:00pm. Six-and-a-half-hours. Nothing like punctuality. I dropped Andrew off at his venue and booked it to mine, McCabe’s, a hotel bar that was choked with comedy goers who were waiting for something, anything, to start. I ran in, went to the washroom, hit the stage, and ordered a Coke. Twenty minutes later, I was back in the car and off to the next venue. The set I did was passable, but having ran to the stage with absolutely no prep whatsoever, they definitely got my weakest spot of the night. One down, three to go.
The other trick of this event is not just that the venues themselves are different, but so are the audiences. McCabe’s was definitely an older crowd in a well-lit, well appointed room. Tux II, the second venue, was a dance club with a stage, mirror ball, ten people, and a DJ spinning house music. Well, there’s a bit of a shock, then. I hit the stage and launched into my set. The ten in attendance appeared to like what they saw. And then there were two.
Mezzaluna was a brightly lit cafe with an extensive wine list with approximately thirty people or so. As I walked into the cafe, a table of about eight senior citizens left. I guess news travels fast in Orillia. The folks there continued to enjoy their mousse, wine, coffee, and, as far as I could tell, me. So, now I know how to do coffee shops.
Last stop, Brewery Bay. I got there in time to see Andrew finish his spot before being whisked away to his last venue. The bar was split into two halves, with a bar on one side and booth and table seating on the other. We performed on the table and booth side, allowing the bar side to continue with music, shouting matches, and a general din. Since I was the last act, and the latest one hitting the stage at close to midnight, I’m sure it was quieter for the others, thankfully. I soldiered on and got those paying attention laughing, thank Buddha. That was that.
The thing that made Orillia astounding was the stupendously professional organization of the event. From the arrangement of the venues, the manner that we were treated, the hotel rooms and the way that we were treated and managed, it was a pleasure to do. Would I do it again? Definitely. I’ll just leave the day before I need to be there.
This lead to another show for me in Barrie. I parted ways with Andrew at Casino Rama. He played poker until he needed to go and I watched the Sens finally win one. Who says you can’t get lucky at a casino. I drove to Barrie and met buddy Dave Paterson, new friend Russell Roy, and old friend Freddy Proia for a fundraiser at the Barrie Legion. By far and away, this was the easiest set of the weekend and it was nice to just relax, settle into it, and not worry about having to rush off to another venue. Fundraiser? Hey, glad I could help.