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life as a comic

All 50 States Day 35: Ohio!

Highway Sign

All 50 States Day 35:


I went to Ohio early and often in my touring career, first hitting the state as a feature act at Connextions 2 in Toledo (you know the shows are funny because of the saucy spelling). I was based in Chicago and the booking agent in Grand Rapids, MI called to ask if I could pick up the headliner at Midway Airport to ride to Toledo with me. That headliner was ‘Wild’ Bill Bauer, an energetic and funny veteran comic who’d been a headliner since the comedy heyday of the 1980s. He was pleasant and supportive throughout the weekend and though I hadn’t seen him since the mid-90s during a week at ACME Comedy Company in Minneapolis, I was sad to hear of his passing in 2012.

My first big years performing at colleges were 1996–1997 and Ohio was a big part of that. I showcased at the Great Lakes NACA Conference, performing a 20-minute set for the student activities boards of colleges in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania. I booked so many shows after that conference there were some weeks where I’d have 9 shows in 5 days, doing a noontime show at a community college then another show that night at a school within a couple hours’ drive.

I had no idea how many colleges of one- to two thousand students there were in the state. I played everywhere from schools in cities like Capital University in Columbus, Xavier in Cincinnati, and Case Western in Cleveland, to schools in small towns like Muskingum University, Ashland University, Denison, Wilmington, Mt. Union. The list goes on.

There was a fun show at Kenyon College, a beautiful idyllic campus of old stone buildings atop a hill. I arrived early so I poked around the grounds and saw the game of Lacrosse in person for the first time. It seemed so New Englandy and preppie to me. I also remember staying in the lovely Kenyon Inn on campus, and that the show was well attended and opened by a campus improv group.

I also remember a show at Shawnee State in Portsmouth because I was fascinated that a small town had such a large area of mid-19th Century old buildings. The historic district struck me as something that should have been in a much larger city. Apparently Portsmouth, at the confluence of the Scioto and Ohio Rivers, had been a big, bustling city back in the 1800s when commerce flowed along the rivers and not by rail.

See? You learn things by traveling!

  • Ohio Turnpike sign, 2010
  • On stage at Ohio University, 2006
  • Case Western University, 2010
  • Blimp in Cleveland, 2010
  • Country road near Lancaster, 2006
  • Arthur Treachers, Lancaster, 2006
  • Opining at a gas station in Ohio, 2006
  • Kenyon College, 1996?

All 50 States Day 14: Indiana!

All 50 States Day 14:


I’ve done a few laps around the Hoosier State mostly doing college shows, everywhere from the big names like Indiana University in Bloomington and Notre Dame in South Bend, to smaller schools like Wabash College in Crawfordsville and Hanover College in Hanover.

I’ve also hit the big city of Indianapolis for some drop-in sets at the Crackers Comedy Clubs while doing shows at Nap-town area colleges like University of Indianapolis. Fun story: alums of Indiana U. are very particular about it being “Indiana University” and not “University of Indiana” so when I tried to tell a friend I had just done a show at the University of Indianapolis I couldn’t even finish my sentence because he said “it’s Indiana University.”  “’Napolis!” I shouted. “Indianpolis is the name of the school! I know where I was!”

I like Indianapolis and I’ve met some wonderful people there. It’s also where you go to appear live on the popular syndicated morning radio show Bob & Tom, though they ask you to not do too many local references because they’re syndicated coast to coast and I guess don’t want to remind people in places like Spokane that they’re listening to two dudes in Indiana. I only appeared on Bob & Tom once, back in February of 2007 and it was right after they got back from going to the Super Bowl, in which their Indianapolis Colts defeated my beloved Chicago Bears. They were wiped out from the travel (or hungover perhaps), I was surly from the loss, but I still had fun on the show.

In the photos for this post I had to dig in to some old video files and grab some frames, and this post marks the first appearance of frames from my Life as a Comic video series, which I did on and off from 2006-2010. The series showed what life on the road was like for a working comic and there are a couple of frames from an episode chronicling a show I did at Vincennes University in April of 2006. I also grabbed some frames from FlipCam videos I took at a show at Ball State in Muncie in 2010 and some B-roll shots of me driving through snow (complete with cracked windshield!).

© Paravonian