When I think of Florida, I hearken back to my halcyon days of when I was but a child on my first trip to the Sunshine State with my grandparents when I was ten. I remember being enthralled with this entirely new and alien country to me. The warmth. The palm trees. The ocean crashing to the beach over and over again. The magic of Disney World, the wonderful animals at Sea World. I had fits of distraction akin to a child with ADD in a TV store with every unit on a different channel. I must have been so enthralled with everything. I must have, because if I had looked up just once, I would have noticed that everyone else standing around us was old. Really old. They kept referring to my grandparents as “those damn kids” shaking their fists from the windows of their coaches, complete with a “Vote Garfield/Arthur in ’81”. That’s 1881. Truthfully, there are three categories in the demographic make-up of Florida. There are the aforementioned Older-Than-Dirt, the Young-And-Hot, and the Not-Too-Old-But-Definitely-Not-That-Hot-And-Desperately-Trying-Not-To-Look-The- Former-But-Damned-If-They-Won’t-Be-The-Latter-And-Making-A-Mess-Out-Of-Looking-Like-Either. It was all three demographics I played over three shows.

I was going to be down in Florida for the North American Rangers Supporters Association AGM and banquet for the weekend so I figured I’d make the most of my time and try to make it a bit of a working holiday. Do some spots. Meet some other comedians. Try out material outside, well, reeeeeally outside Toronto, all that fun stuff. We were centred in Naples, so with my plane landed in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday and gathered my car from the rental place. This is where I was hit with one thing that I’d forgotten about the US. They like everything BIG. Quite big. I like smaller cars as it gives me a better sense of the road I feel and I always feel uncomfortable driving something so massive that you can’t in fact see what you’re hitting. It’s more personal running over someone with a small car because chances are with the windshield being where it is, there’ll be eye contact. In larger cars, you could run over the entire Grimsby No. 2 Boy Scout troupe and not realize it until you’re home wondering what all the neckerchiefs are doing wedged in your wheel well. I was blessed with an upgrade. Yay. It was Dodge. Not ‘A’ Dodge. Dodge. Like what I pictured Dodge City to be like with wheels. Already I was getting my left-handed handshake and a really good “I’m Sorry” face prepared for several Boy Scout funerals. Hope they’re prepared.

I moored the boat at the New York Comedy Club in Boca Raton. The thought was that there would be no show as there were only three people in the club when I showed up. This did not bode well for my first Florida show. But then, like in most American movies come to think of it, all was made better by the Armed Forces. A pack of Marines showed up and suddenly we had approximately 20 or so people there and show on. If I ever get arsed enough to figure out how to move movies from my camera to my computer I’ll put the show up for you but suffice to say, I did well for a Canadian who’d been at the mercy of Air Canada for over three hours. First on the show after the host, who told the audience my name was Tom Allen from Vancouver (close enough, really), and got the first applause break about 28 seconds in or so. So, not bad all in all. Welcome to Florida.

Friday decided to rain all day, so I decided to sit by the pool and read really trashy magazines all day. Because really, when do I ever get Britney Spears time? Never, that’s when. I drove to Fort Meyers to perform at the Laugh-In Comedy Cafe. Ever seen comedy in the 1980s? No? Go there and you’ve got the room at least. Totally reminiscent of every A&E club I’d seen on the “On-The-Road” type shows. There I performed with comic road warrior Peter Fogel (who never seemed to mind that they spelt his name wrong on the posters), and DT Owens who’s one of the only comics I know that has his own bobblehead. The host was Chris Cowles who reminded me of Mark Walker. So already I thought he was funny. And he was. The first show at the cafe was packed so this would be the first time that I would be on stage and see what a true packed Florida audience can do. They didn’t disappoint. I got a groan of disappointment as I told the crowd my time was up, so I must have said something right. I’m really getting to hate five minute spots, you know? The sting was taken when one of the civilians gave me a high-five as I walked off the stage. Good room that. The second show had twenty people in it (contrast, anyone?) and were still raucous. Did another five with another “leave them wanting more” moment. Good to have. I definitely will have to go back to Florida. The rooms are great. The people are dandy. And really, let’s face it. I’m not getting any younger.

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