Oops! Wrong Venue!

I did my first “international” show in Vancouver last night. It was quite a hectic mess of a turn of events. This is kind of a boring story, but I had to write it to explain what the hell happened to curious victims who may have tried to see me.

I’ve known that I would be going to Vancouver in the first week of December, so I got hooked with a friend of a friend, Vancouver comedian Rob Kraft who emailed me the canonical list of Vancouver venues at http://www.comedycouch.com/. I was only going to be in town on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights, so the pickings were slim and there wasn’t much in the way of contact information.

Back in November, I wrote an email to Patrick Maliha who runs the Balthazar showcase on Monday nights. A week or two went by without an answer, so I wrote again. Once again, no reply, so with Rob’s counsel, I found him on MySpace and wrote him there. He wrote me back the next day saying he didn’t think he had any space on the show that night. I got the name of the fellow who ran the Monday Darby’s show by calling Darby’s; with that information, I found him on MySpace and wrote asking if I could get on while I was in town.

I didn’t hear anything from him for quite some time. Finally, just as I was calling Darby’s on a Monday night (with the expectation that he would be there running the show), I checked my MySpace mail account and found that he had replied! “Be there by 8:30 to sign up and I will make sure you get on.”

Excellent. So I sent out an email to a bunch of friends and family in the Vancouver area telling them about the show and started to become stoked about my first show in Canada.

Cut to Monday (and switch to the present tense for dramatic purposes). It’s a stormy, windy day. I get to my brother’s house where I’m staying, and the power is out, as it apparently was in many homes in the region. It’s extremely dark at the house and I’m a little antsy, so I leave early. The plan was to meet at Tim’s house (he’s the common friend of Rob and I) then go to Darby’s. But I was much earlier than I was supposed to be, so I figure I may as well swing by the venue to see what to expect.

I find Darby’s no problem. It’s a pub with an attached cold beer and wine store. I almost leave without trying to go in, but wisely decide I may as well check it out. But the door is locked. Peering in reveals that there is NOBODY inside. There is a cryptic note on the door about Darby’s schedule changing due to some renovation or something, but even so it’s supposed to be open by 4 PM. To make things even more confusing, there is a banner on the pub inviting the public to the Sunday night open nights. Huh?!

The neighbouring beer and wine store has a hand-drawn sign that says in a scribble “Closed due to power outage.” Of course the lights are on inside, so there’s no reason to be closed, but I guess they called it a day, locked up and went home.

Not quite sure what to do, I drive to Tim’s place. I’m still early, but I need to use a phone because my mobile does not work in Canada. I borrow their phone and start calling everyone, uninviting them. Then I check out Comedy Couch on Tim’s computer with him. The Darby’s show is nowhere to be found on the list of venues. It’s still in Google’s cached version of the page, so I know I’m not completely crazy.

Tim and Rob and I go down to Darby’s again so we can be there at 8:30. Same situation — pub and store closed, empty. We go back to Tim’s.

I decide I’m going to crash the other Monday night show I’m already been turned down to, if for no other reason than to meet some local comics. I call my brother, and he’s at Darby’s with a bunch of people. So I tell him about Balthazars, and he decides to come along too.

Rob also comes along, and we find Balthazars, get decent parking. We meet Erik’s gang of five at the front door and I recognize Patrick from his photos. I ask him if there’s any space and tell him we have a large party. He suggest he may be able to get me on.

Well, long story short, I was third up at Balthazars with five minutes, which I stretched to seven. It went okay… not great, but not absolutely terrible. I was a little distracted by a gang of noisy, chatty folks off to the right that were sitting in a part of the restaurant that I didn’t even know existed until I got up on stage. That’s always a surprise to find out the audience is twice as large as you thought it was going to be. All in all, it went reasonably well considering how chaotic things were leading up to it. And “those bitches at the table in the corner” (as the waitress reluctantly described to me) bought me a drink. I never found out who it was and whether they bought it because they were so noisy or because I was so charming. Probably a combination of the two.

I also found out that the Darby’s show is no more, and last Monday was the last show. Nice. So in a way, I was lucky that the power went out because that made me (1) go to Darby’s early and (2) have Darby’s close, giving me a hint that the show would not go on (but not for the reasons that I thought!).

So to those of you that I invited, sorry it didn’t happen. And to those of you that had to find out it was canceled by going to Darby’s and having essentially no information, a double red-faced embarrassed apology. And to those of you who now wished you had known about the show that I ended up doing instead at pretty much the exact same time as the other one was scheduled, a triple apology. Next time I’m in town, I’ll keep you posted.

Lesson: the more you plan, the more that can go wrong.