November 7, 2017 (Tuesday)

So I woke up and had breakfast with Hart (he cooked eggs and bacon with avocadoes and tomatoes for the second day in a row- man, that guy gets me) (he also had slow-cooked pulled pork!), then headed for Portland. As soon as I crossed the border into the United States of America and started to feel the greatness that is being made again, I noticed the “check engine” light was on in my luxurious 2005 pinstriped Toyota Corolla. Now, I’m not a car guy. I’ve owned a few over the years, starting with my parents’  Chevy wagon that I used after high school (or maybe I just used it and it wasn’t really mine- cuz I know my brother used it too- one time he’d been using it and had to go to the airport, so I went with him to bring the car back home, and it wasn’t til I was on my way home from the airport heading into a toll interchange on I-95 {the THRUWAY!} that was about 13 lanes wide that I realized he had never put any gas in the car, which I realized because as I started to cross from Lane 8 to Lane 7 the car sputtered and died, and luckily it was on a grade to the toll booth so I was able to slowly roll across 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 onto the shoulder without being smashed by the idiots in cars and also 18 wheelers who always feel like they have to speed up to the tollbooth… no cellphones then… I had to climb up a concrete retaining wall and an embankment, and found a UPS warehouse where they were loading trucks… I walked in, past a bunch of dudes loading stuff, down a couple flights of stairs and found an office, when all of a sudden somebody saw me and everybody started yelling about how I wasn’t supposed to be in there and how did I get in {it was really easy}…).]

OK, it wasn't  this  old.

OK, it wasn't this old.

Basically, I did absolutely everything wrong. Although I don't know about calling 911...

"911- what is your emergency?"

"I ran out of gas on the--"

"Oh fuck off."

Anyway, upon perusal of the manual I had never opened before I learned that if the light is steady, it’s probably something minor, and if it’s blinking, GET OUT! NOW! My light was steady, but I still wanted somebody to look at it. By this time I was somewhere around Bellingham, Washington, so I stopped at Axton Automotive. Shout out to those guys. A guy came out, hooked up a gadget, looked at some computer stuff, and told me the light definitely was not a big deal, probably had to do with emissions/a solenoid/ something, the car would be fine for my whole drive, he could get rid of the light but it might come back on. *NB as of a week later it’s back on* Definitely get it checked back in LA but don’t worry about it. We talked a little about comedy, then he told me he had grown up in the Valley. He was up in Washington because his wife was in the Navy and stationed nearby (Whidbey Island? Kitsap? Hmm…). He loved it there, but she was being reassigned to San Diego, so he was excited to go back to California. Then he wouldn’t charge me, and refused to accept a tip, So we shook hands and I rolled out.

Naval Base Kitsap

Naval Base Kitsap

Mike Birbiglia

Mike Birbiglia

Got to Portland just in time to sign up for the open mic at Helium. Ario had assured me that the Helium open mic was curated in such a way that real people often came out to see the show, and they were pretty into it.  Having just done a number of open mics for the first time in a while right before I left LA, where I would get onstage and talk out loud to a bunch of aspiring comics checking their phones, I found that hard to believe. But he said the club curated the show really well, and put up newer comics, pros who were in town for shows (in the outgoing phone message I got when I called them, they specifically mentioned Dave Chapelle and Mike Birbiglia as people who would show up for the open mic when they were in town), people who had never done stand-up before, and people like me, whatever that is. But I had called the club and left them a message about how I was in town, and then I showed up and put my name on the list, and half an hour before show time they put the list of comics who were gonna be on the show down on the bar outside the showroom. All the hungry comics gathered eagerly around, checking for their names, like it was the school play. People took photos of the list and posted it up on Facescope and Squarechat and stuff for the comics who hadn't come back yet, so they wouldn't have to if they weren't on it. It really was exciting. And I got up to the list... And sure enough, there it was, like a sign on a marquee surrounded by blinking lights: “Sean Conroy- 3 minutes.” Now, if you’ve ever seen me perform, you know that for whatever reason it usually takes me about three minutes  to get the mic out of the stand, so this would be interesting. Or would it? 

Dave Chapelle

Dave Chapelle

As I waited around for the show, I realized that there were people streaming into the showroom. Like, real people. Lots of them.  Ario was right. It ended up being packed! Well, not packed, but easily over half full (easily less than half empty? Too pessimistic).  3 minutes or not, it was great. 

Then Ario and I went to another open mic (yes, I am on tour, going to open mics- I'm exactly like Birbiglia and Chapelle). It was at a craft beer place that sold growlers, cool place, great ambience, back room for the show, everything you could want, EXCEPT it is called The Big Legrowlski, and is Big Lebowski-themed. Like, a sign on the wall that says “The Dude Abides.” The back room was called “The Rug Room.” In the Rug Room there was an ugly, framed, shawl-collared sweater. That seems like too much to hang on a movie from like 20 years ago, that a lot of people don't know. I feel like I can only think of one other person who would make a business decision like that.  But his would be a bar called, like, The Groonlersies. Or something.

The Dude abides.

The Dude abides.

That rug really tied the room together. Also, is that a ghost?

That rug really tied the room together. Also, is that a ghost?

But the show was great, the beer was tasty, and they advertised pickleback shots, which I have a love/hate relationship with (with which?), for obvious reasons (they are disgusting and also the official drink of one of my favorite TV shows.

Pickleback.jpg