People Train Runs Outta Stubbville.
Show #3 is about to happen on this western tour and thus far it’s been two shows, a lot of road work, and the realization of how awesome one’s friends can be. There’s not much that most folks won’t do for you out here and I look forward to returning the favour at some point. I’ve almost made this trip akin to “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, except Calgary doesn’t have a train station. What does Via know that I don’t?
The tour started on Tuesday with me flying into Calgary (at least it has an airport) at 8:30am. The first gig was in Lethbridge, so my only job once I landed was to find a convenient place for the headliner Lars Callieou to pick me up on his way from Edmonton. The quickest of GoogleMaps fu showed me that the easiest thing was to stay put as the highway we were taking was so close to the airport that it could function as an extra runway for drunken pilots. That was the easy part. The sad bit was that he wouldn’t be showing up until close to 4:00pm. I took the early flight just in case everything went wrong, I could bus to Lethbridge. That not being an issue now with Lars in the frame, the consequence was that I got to be hosted for quite a while in YYC. I found the pub “Cheers” on the upper-level where surprisingly nobody knew my name. But they had Wi-Fi and a power outlet for me, so I worked. Meh.
Upon Lars’ arrival, I popped into the car and headed to Lethbridge, at this point the furthest south I’ve been in Alberta. The hotel was dandy and the venue was the Blarney Stone pub, a place hard to find by virtue of the fact that there were no outside lights on to indicate that it was even open. It was. A quick scan of the posters for upcoming events showed that not only were Lars and I part of the entertainment cycle for the pub, but soon to come over the coming days were Dr. Hook and Bif Naked. Can’t wait for them to go, “Wow! Lars and Todd were just here?”
The room is basically a huge pub with a long L-shaped room that runs away from the stage. Large, chatty crowd that is not that much different than the Fox & Fiddle in Toronto. Got folks listening, some not, but generally a good time. Especially for the folks stating before the show, “I can’t believe it, I’m hammered. I’m going to be done by 10:00”. Show starts at 9:30. First line out of my mouth was “Folks, I’ve been up since 2:30am local time and the table at the back looks to be in worse shape than me.” Had a fun time with the crowd and always the innovator, Lars went into the crowd and talked to the specific tables on the wireless mic to get them engaged and above all, silent. Very effective and inspiring.
The next day had me on a sparsely attended bus to Canmore to see the brother, sis-in-law, and new nephew. It was only to be a night, but any time with the folks is appreciated. Even a day spent in Wal-Mart and Fabricland didn’t take the smile off the face. Got to babysit the wee bear while the sis-in-law and her mum did all the shopping in Calgary prior to dropping me off at the bus station. By the way, babysitting in this case means following the wee guy around a fabric store while he crawls around removing all the pillow cases that he can.
The bus to Edmonton? I’ll admit, it’s been a few years since I’ve seen so many psychotic stares. The official odour of Greyhound busses: stale beer, cigarettes, and failure. Mostly silent trip until someone lifted up the lid on the Pandora’s Box of “Loud Life Story Guy” who relayed details on his divorce after two years of marriage, his business acumen (hence finding himself on a Greyhound bus), and how his pasta sauce is better than anyone’s on the busses. Riveting stuff.
Once I landed in Edmonton, I got to crash with funnyman JP Naphan where we spent an evening commiserating about insane folks who have wronged us, comedy as a whole, and one of the best Bulgolgi pizza slices you’ll ever have in Edmonton. Next day, Andrew Grose picked me up and we headed for Saskatoon. The ride is five hours and we fill the time talking about all the fun stuff that you’d expect two touring comics to talk about; microwave cookery. The time bleeds away easily and we hit the venue with a ton of time to spare. Shower, relax, showtime. The show starts late and goes long, but I fill my time effectively and pretty easily. I was warned the crowd was good and they were. Best show yet, even though it’s the second one. Andrew goes up worried that the show is going on too long, but the audience is with him the entire way, asking him to do more time than the usual hour-long spot. Give ’em what they want.
Thus far the biggest shocks have been in Saskatoon where I was able to watch the Western Bulldogs play the Brisbane Lions in AFL action after the show, watch TFC win, and get a $16 haircut that consisted of my sideburns and neck moss getting trimmed. Probably the biggest shock I’ll get when I get home is seeing what my roaming and data plan charges are. Get out the big calculator, Rogers.