Dad Bands

Want to know how to ruin a perfectly good evening of drinking? Go to a bar on Dad Band night. What’s a dad band you ask? Dad bands are like that insipid 90s band Sister Hazel, only without the hard edge.

Every suburb has at least 1 dad band that dominates the local brewpub scene. Their biggest fans are the other guys in the band, and at least someone’s wife who isn’t.

These guys have known about this gig for months, and they still show up needing to do a 45 minute sound check.

I wold rather listen to a Christian contemporary group than stand around listening to a dad band.Click To Tweet

The setlist would crack any prisoner at Gitmo faster than anything the CIA could come up with.

Every gig sees the addition of yet another member. It’s usually another guitar, but they’ll take anyone. Within 2-3 weeks they look like a white version of Earth Wind and Fire.

The worst thing about dad bands is they play at just the right level to drown out conversations, but not loud enough to actually rock.

Finally, no one dresses like they’ve ever heard rock and roll. Instead, they look like they just finished mowing the lawn or coaching girl’s soccer. Cargo shorts, Keens, and the god damned backwards baseball cap.


Rat Trap

Years ago I was driving back to my folk’s place from the coast of North Carolina. My wife rode with my mom and I had the kids with me. They were probably 5 and 8 at the time. Two weeks before my trip I had gotten a speeding ticket. It was the second that year, after having gone 20 years without one.

I missed my exit and ended up on a state road. I thought I was still on the interstate so I was cruising along at 65 in a 55 zone. The state trooper who nailed me asked how fast I thought I was going. I was honest with him, and it didn’t help. I still got the ticket.

I told the kids, 'Don't say a god damn thing. Just keep quiet. No one needs to know about this!'Click To Tweet

I told the kids, “Don’t say a god damn thing. Just keep quiet. No one needs to know about this!”

A month passed and I’m on a business trip in Orlando and I get a text from my wife who was going through a stack of letters from North Carolina lawyers. She couldn’t believe I would make the kids lie for me. I was quick to point out I never told them to lie, I just told them to keep their mouths shut.

When I got home my wife told me how she grilled the kids. My son stood strong and held back tears refusing to rat out dad. My daughter, sang like a bird. God bless her soul she at least tried to use my excuse that I didn’t know we weren’t on the interstate.

Lessons Learned

I first got the itch to do comedy when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. I wasn’t specifically interested in standup, but I liked to be funny. My brother and I used to ab-lib skits into a portable cassette recorder we got for Christmas.

My first shot at standup was in college at the University of Illinois in 1990. There was a contest sponsored by Certs, the breath mint (with Retsyn for those of you old enough to remember the commercials see below). I entered along with 20 or so other students.

The show was at 6pm on a Friday night in the student union. I waited until the very last minute to tell anyone about it. Then when the time came, I tried to play it cool and said, “yeah, I got dared to do this, so you know”. There were a shitload more people than I expected in the audience, at least 500-600.

I went to happy hour beforehand to get some liquid courage. I went on 3rd. I did absolutely nothing to prepare. I had one joke. I thought being a smart ass was enough to carry me. It was the longest 3 minutes of my life. I stared out into a sea of cold dead stares. The only people with any expression on their faces were my friends who were grimacing like they witnessed a paper cut to the eye.

I stared out into a sea of cold dead stares. The only people with any expression on their faces were my friends who were grimacing like they witnessed a paper cut to the eye. Click To Tweet

I don’t remember it verbatim, but I think the joke I told went something like this:

I was talking to this chick, and said, “so, are those Lee Press-on Jeans?”. And she said, “they’re stretch pants.” So I said, “like they had a choice.”

Imagine that in a slight Dice Clay accent and you get the horrible picture.

Most of the people were hacky but at least they had prepared material. The guy who won had great stage presence and killed. I learned being prepared and polished is better than being funny.

Fast forward to 1990. The contest is back. This time I tell more friends, including my future wife (though we weren’t an item then, and god knows how she could date me after that night).

Same place, same time, same size crowd, and I made the exact same mistake. This time, I don’t even remember the joke. I just remember no one wanted anything to do with me after.

So I hung up my high-top Chuck Taylors1 and took a 26 year break from standup.

The good news is I have learned the my lesson. I have done tons of public speaking since then and make an effort to rehearse and be prepared. I have presented in front of some the stiffest people you can imagine, so I know what it’s like to stand in front of a crowd and get zero reaction.

 1. I actually didn’t own a pair of Chuck Taylors. That was probably the only smart choice I made that night. I did, however, own a leather biker’s jacket.

First real show

I had my first paid gig last Saturday night. I was part of the #hellafunny showcase at the Milk Bar in San Francisco. It’s a small club in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. It was a really funny line up that alternated between hellafunny guys and a bunch of newbies like myself.

Saturday night was my first gig as part of the #hellafunny showcase at the Milk Bar San Francisco.Click To Tweet

The place was packed, there were easily a couple hundred people there. There were probably 50-60 chairs in the performance space, and they filled up fast leaving 3/4 of the crowd standing.

I went to college in the late 80s, the height of woman’s fashion…if you were Molly Ringwald. We didn’t have shorty shorts and cute camis with spaghetti straps. No, it was high-waisted, acid wash jeans. Jeans with pockets and straps no one knew what to do with – covered in floral print. They looked like they were fighting for the Martha Stewart army trying to take back Coldwater Creek from the Talbot’s.

I can’t say that I killed, but I definitely didn’t bomb. If I had to do it over again, I’d dig my heels in more and try something edgier. The thought did cross my mind to toss out my entire act and go all Andy Kaufman, maybe start dropping the n-word and motherfuckers just to get everyone totally uncomfortable. Instead, I did the smart thing and played it safe. I wasn’t worried about offending anyone, I just didn’t want to be a deer in the headlights.

I didn’t get any good photos, but a friend captured video of the performance on her iPhone. I hope to get a higher quality version to post later.

Obviously shot on an iPhone, but thanks for watching.



Here’s the first post folks

I guess this means I have officially launched my comedy career. You can witness it all first hand from this site. If all goes well, there will be more posts and more events. If not, this site will probably languish for years.

The other night, I did an open mic at the Brainwash cafe in San Francisco. The folks at Brainwash are putting it beginner’s showcase and asked if we’d be interested. I said, yes, and that’s all it took to get booked. So I’m going to be performing with several other newbies.

Come to The #hellafunny Comedy Show and will be Saturday August 27, 2016 at 8pm at The Milk Cafe 1840 Haight Street.

This showcase lit a fire under my ass to get a website up and running. So here it is, expect more things to start showing up here.