Back to the top


All 50 States Day 47: Washington!

Seattle Space Needle

All 50 States Day 47:


I landed in Seattle in the spring of 1997 for my first big trek through the Pacific Northwest and it was amazing. After showcasing at a NACA conference in the fall of 1996 I landed a bunch of shows, and that 3-week run in the spring of ’97 was a great introduction to the region. Not only did I see Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska, I got to see a good chunk of western Washington, from Longview to Bellingham, with stops in Everett, Olympia, Tacoma, Puyallup, and more.

In the central part of the state, where the Cascade Mountains give way to high desert, I’ve hit shows in Wenatchee, Omak, the Tri-Cities, and even a college in Moses Lake that was on the grounds of a decommissioned Air Force base. As a musician going to a gig on an Air Force base I couldn’t help but think of the movie This is Spinal Tap.

I remember driving in to Moses Lake, a small town with not much around, and despite the desolate location there was a steady stream of jumbo jets approaching, landing gear down, ready to touch down. I couldn’t figure out how such a sparsely populated area could have so much air traffic! Turns out the runways at the old Air Force base are used for touch-and-gos, a training maneuver where pilots land and immediately take off. So all of these jets were coming in for a landing and as soon as they touched down they were like “nope” and got the hell out.

I’ve also hit the eastern part of the state, playing Gonzaga U and Whitworth College in Spokane, and Eastern Washington University in Cheney. I had a fun corporate show in Spokane in 2014, but getting there was a challenge because just two days prior I performed for a Dutch public television show in Amsterdam. The day between shows I flew Amsterdam to London, London to Seattle, then Seattle to Spokane. The London to Seattle flight alone was 10 hours, but with the 8 hour time difference I made it to my hotel in Spokane (the lovely and historic Davenport Hotel, downtown) and was able to sleep for as long as I could before the show.

As for Seattle, I try to get there as often as I can. Whenever I have a stop in Vancouver I tack on a few days to hang out with friends in Seattle, and the last time I made the Vancouver to Seattle trip via bus. It was my first time crossing the border on a bus and was a good square to check off on my travel bingo card.

  • My name in lights! Centralia College, 2003
  • Olympia Beer at an outdoor bar near Seattle, 2018
  • Ready for an adventure in an IH Scout, 2017
  • Space Needle through binocular viewer, 2017
  • Rickshaw Restaurant, Seattle, 2018
  • There is sun in Seattle! 2018
  • B&W Polaroid of Seattle waterfront and ferris wheel, 2014
  • B&W Polaroid of downtown Spokane, 2014
  • Space Needle selfie, 2013

All 50 States Day 37: Oregon!

Mt. Hood

All 50 States Day 37:


It’s been a while since I’ve been to Oregon but I got there early in my touring career, after showcasing at the Pacific Northwest NACA conference in late 1996. That showcase landed me a lot of shows throughout the region and I went there for a couple of big tours in the spring of ’97 and thereafter.

On one of those first trips to the area I met up with a high school friend who was living in Portland, who asked me to meet him at Powell’s Books. Meeting someone for coffee in Portland at the “world’s largest independent bookstore” is Peak 90s Northwest!

Thanks to the college gigs I’ve had the chance to see some different parts of the state, playing Portland State and University of Portland in Portlandia, Willamette, Linfield, and Western Oregon in the northwestern corner of the state, and Eastern Oregon out in Le Grande in the high desert eastern part of the state.

I also vividly remember driving to a show in Bend because for about an hour (or what felt like it) I had no idea what highway I was on. There were some turns and forks on a reservation that weren’t clearly marked and I wasn’t sure I was on the right highway. I kept waiting for a sign that would indicated 197 North, or 26 South, or whatever, but I was out in the middle of nowhere. There wasn’t any other traffic. It was desolate. This is the pre-smart phone era when we all had GPS in our pockets.

I finally saw a sign that said “Criterion Summit” so I pulled over at a little gravel pull off area on the side of the 2-lane undivided highway to take a look at my Rand McNally Road Atlas. I found Criterion Summit on the map, I was on the right highway. Then I looked at the little parking area and realized it had plaques in the ground with arrows pointing to the various peaks of Cascade mountains, which were all around. It showed the name of the peak and the elevation, and through some google map street view sleuthing I was able to figure out which peak was which in the photos I got there.

  • Criterion Summit with Mt. Adams in the background, 1997
  • Rainbow near Portland, 2004
  • Mt. Hood, 1997
  • Wider shot of Mt. Hood, 1997
  • View of Mt. Jefferson from Criterion Summit, 1997
US Map with Oregon highlighted

All 50 States Day 31: New Mexico!

Cliff in NM

All 50 States Day 31:

New Mexico!

My first experiences with New Mexico were traversing I-10 along the southern edge of the state on road trips to and from California. I finally landed a gig and spent a night in the state in 2002 when I played Eastern New Mexico University in the town of Portales (por-TA-lace), which was so far away from the main cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque that I flew to Lubbock, Texas and drove. I also drove the extra 180 miles round trip from Portales to Roswell to check out the town and of course the UFO museum.

Three days after that show at ENMU I had a show at the University of Alaska Anchorage, which I flew to from Denver. That gave me about a day and a half to take a scenic route from eastern New Mexico to Denver. I drove up to Santa Rosa, along I-40 and old Route 66, stopped at a classic diner (I think I had a patty melt), and then continued up to Taos to poke around and take in the crunchy artsiness.

I know that I took Hwy 64 from Taos up to Colorado because I have a picture from Cimarron Canyon State Park, which Hwy 64 travels through. The name Cimarron had always stuck in my head and I remember stopping to see a scenic cliff along the drive. I knew somewhere I had a picture of it, and in 2002 I had my first decent digital camera, the Canon PowerShot 110, but I couldn’t find the picture I remembered. I finally tracked it down in a roll of prints from my travels that month, a roll that included New Mexico, Alaska, and a run of shows stretching over a 1500 mile loop in Montana and North Dakota.

It took some internet searching to find the spot where I took the picture, and it turns out to be the Palisade Sill in Cimarron Canyon State Park. So even though I was only in the state for all of two days I did get to see a nice representation of it.

  • Diner Selfie! Santa Rosa, 2002
  • Palisade Sill in Cimarron Canyon State Park, 2002
  • Getting some kicks, or at least a selfie, on Route 66, 2002
  • Rio Pecos Truck Terminal, Santa Rosa, 2002
  • Diner on Route 66, Santa Rosa, 2002

All 50 States Day 26: Montana!

river with raft

All 50 States Day 26:


In the spring of 1997, early in my college touring career, I had my first big trek through the Pacific Northwest, 12 or so shows stretched over a three week span. The tour started in Havre, MT, a small town along U.S. Highway 2 in the middle of the northern edge of the state. The tour ended in the Seattle area so I flew to Seattle, rented a car for three weeks and started the tour by driving to Havre.

There were several non-show nights on that trek, nights where I could choose where to stay, so I tried to pick interesting spots. One of the spots, either on the way to or back from Havre, was Whitefish, Montana, near the western entrance of Glacier National Park. It was the off season so I could only get to the visitor center near a small lake. And even though it was the ancient days of film cameras, I actually have a picture of it!

In 2002 I had a more Montana-centric tour, playing colleges in Billings, Havre, and Dillon, along with a show in Dickinson, North Dakota. For that tour I flew in to Billings where I rented a car for a week and the rental agency insisted I upgrade because he had a brand new Jeep he was determined to rent. “Even if you offer something crazy like $5 a day I’ll accept,” the rental agent said, so I offered $5 a day and rented a brand new Jeep Cherokee that had just been delivered and had about 6 miles on the odometer.

After my week of driving to Dickinson, Havre, Dillon, and back I returned the car with over 1500 miles on it. The rental agent looked at the odometer reading on my rental form and remarked, “you did some driving.” Yup. Thank heaven for their unlimited miles policy.

I even took a detour near Dillon into a national park to try to find a Sacagawea Historic Site, though I never found it. It was winter and my cell lost all bars in the park, and the road I was on was dirt and turning into snow and slush, so I decided I should get back to town and get ready for the show. I didn’t want the headline of the local paper to be “New York Comedian Eaten by Wolves in National Park, Is Idiot.” I also took a picture there so the paper would have something to run with the story.

In ’02 and ’03 I played summer orientation shows at MSU in Bozeman and it was great to see Montana in the summer. The shows were on Mondays and flying in the Saturday before not only afforded me a cheaper airfare, it allowed a few extra days to see the state. The student activities advisor was a great host both years, one year taking me to Yellowstone for the day and the next year putting together a rafting excursion on the Yellowstone River. Sadly, my Hurly baseball cap was lost in said river.

I’ve also played Carroll College in Helena a couple of times and spent a few more days off in Bozeman. In fact, it was a rock club in Bozeman where I saw a the band 40 Watt Hype from Fresno, and became a fan. Montana (has) rocks!

  • Rafting Selfie! Yellowstone River, 2003
  • Rafting on the Yellowstone River near Bozeman, 2003
  • Jeep lost in a national park near Dillon, 2003
  • Church near Whitefish, 1997
  • Lake in Glacier National Park, 1997
  • Sign for Lindsay, MT, in the gosh dang middle of nowhere, 2002

All 50 States Day 19: Maine!

All 50 States Day 19:


The deceptively huge state of Maine is gorgeous and “out there,” in many senses of the phrase. My first trip to the state was a social call visiting my friend Tom whose family had a house on the island of Vinylhaven. He rented the house for a mid-September week back around 1997 or so and I went up for a few days, driving to Rockland, parking the car and taking a ferry out to the island. It was after Labor Day so most of the people on the island were year-long residents, with a lot of lobstermen among them.

The first college in Maine that I played, that I can confirm, anyway, was University of Maine–Machias in the town of Machias, which is, as declared by an audience member in Boston the next night, “wicked fah.” Machias is in the Down East section of Maine along the coast, and only 25 miles shy of the Canadian border.

I’ll always remember the name of the Bluebird Motel in Machias because I had to have a proof CD of my album FedExed to me there. When I called ahead to the Motel to get the address for the delivery they simply said “Bluebird Motel, Highway 1, Machias, Maine.” When I asked for a street address or a number, the woman said, “the Fed Ex guy knows where we are.” I relayed the vague address to the CD manufacturer with the caveat “they say it’ll get there,” and sure enough, when I checked in my FedEx envelope was waiting for me.

I played Machias again in ’03 and University of Maine in Orono in 2007, and I’m pretty sure I did a show at the University of Southern Maine but I can’t confirm, so it must have been back in my paper calendar days.

I played Bates College in Lewiston back in ’04, in a building on campus called “The Silo” that was in fact, a former barn silo. I remember it being a fun show with a nice turnout, and I also remember flying in to Portland, quickly checking in to my hotel, dropping my stuff, and heading straight to campus. After the show, when I was getting ready to go to bed I saw that the sheets were so thin as to be nearly transparent. It was embarrassing to go to the front desk to ask for another set of sheets—like I had had an accident or something—but I had to. The sheets in the second set were just as thin, so I used both plus a flat sheet to protect me from the hotel mattress.

And this explains why one of my only confirmed pictures in the state is of me holding a bedsheet in front of the light!


All 50 States Day 15: Iowa!

Amana Colonies building

All 50 States Day 15:


I went to Iowa early and often in my comedy touring career and the first NACA convention at which I ever showcased was in Iowa (Cedar Rapids, if memory serves). It was the Upper Midwest regional in ’95 where I performed a 20-minute set in front of the student activities boards of most of the colleges and universities in the region, which lead to a lot of block booked shows over the next few semesters.

In those first touring years, from 1995-2000, I went to every corner of the state, from Westmar University in LaMars, Waldorf College in north central Forest City, to Mt. Mercy and Coe College around Cedar Rapids. One of my earliest gigs was at Central College in Pella, Iowa, home of their namesake windows and a big-time annual tulip festival.

In this millennium I’ve been back to Iowa for shows at Drake University in Des Moines (after which I went to see the AAA Iowa Cubs), and I played the Englert Theater at the University of Iowa in the amazing Big 10 college town of Iowa City. I dropped in for a set once at the Des Moines Funny Bone, a top midwest comedy room, and stopped by the Field of Dreams when I was in the area for a show at University of Dubuque. Sadly I can’t find my pictures from the Field of Dreams, but I did track down a selfie I took in Eldon, Iowa, in front of the house made famous in Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Most importantly, I’ve made a couple of pilgrimages to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, the venue where Buddy Holly, et al. played their final concert.

To get to shows in Iowa I’ve driven through snow, ice, rain, and the strong fertilizer smell of late spring. I’ve also had to cross the state several times on my way to other gigs, and the interstate arteries of I-35 and I-80, crossing like the letter t in Des Moines, were well known to me for several years.

  • Selfie at American Gothic House in Eldon, 2008
  • Englert Theater at U. of Iowa, 2010
  • The Iowa Cubs, 2007
  • Amana Colonies, 2010
  • Surf Ballroom Polaroid, 2007?
  • Selfie at Surf Ballroom monument, 2007

All 50 States Day 12: Idaho!

All 50 States Day 12:


Though I didn’t have any shows in Idaho on my first big trek through the Northwest back in ’97 I did spend a consequential off night in Boise. It was the night I decided to cut off my distinctive super-long hair, after an unsolicited suggestion from an off-duty stripper.

During that first trip I had a film camera with me and took a couple of pictures in the state, including one of a dormant wooden roller coaster in the off season. Since there was no geo-tagging on the old school film cameras it takes some work to figure out where the pictures were taken, and luckily the name “Silverwood” can be seen on the roller coaster. Still in operation, Silverwood Amusement Park lies alongside U.S. Highway 95 north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in the skinny northern reaches of the state. I must have passed the coaster as I headed south from Hwy 2 (The Great Northern) after my show in Havre, MT.

Another picture from that roll is from downtown Boise, of an art deco building that, thanks to more visible signs and google sleuthing, turns out to be called the Hoff Building, which was built in 1930 as the Hotel Boise. That’s not where I met the off-duty stripper.

On subsequent trips to the northwest I did in fact play some shows in Idaho, including Albertson College outside of Boise, and North Idaho College up in beautiful Coeur d’Alene. In back-to-back years (’02 & ’03) I played shows at Idaho State in Pocatello, and after one of the shows I was treated to my favorite karaoke rendition of “Girl From Ipanema,” sung by two Brazilian exchange students who eschewed the lyrics on the monitor and sang the song in Portuguese.

No pictures of karaoke night exist, and the only other image I found in my archives from Idaho was a random picture of my hotel room in Pocatello. At the time I was taking pictures of gaudily designed hotel and motel rooms, I have no idea why. I guess that’s how I entertained myself on the road before we were on the internet 24/7.

Oh yeah, the off-duty stripper story: I was staying in Boise on an off night and I stopped in at a rock music-friendly bar I probably found by going through the local indy arts paper (that’s how we found stuff before Yelp). It was a slow weeknight with just a couple of regulars when a young, attractive, very dolled up woman made a big entrance. She announced her presence with a big hello, bright red lipstick, a leather jacket, and a low-cut shirt offering ample WonderBra (it was the 90s) clevage.

She proclaimed she was back from Seattle, hadn’t visited Boise in forever, and was incredibly busy dancing in the big city. I kept to myself as she made the rounds catching up with the regulars and she eventually sat next to me for a minute to ask me what my deal was. I said I was a musician passing through (I prefer claiming musician as my vocation over comedian, it leads to fewer follow up questions). We chatted for a minute and then she offered, “you’d be a better looking guy if you cut your hair, it’s dated.”

The day I cut off the long hair, April, 1997

Now that’s not the only reason I cut my hair the day after I got back to Illinois after that trip, but it definitely was that little extra kick in the vanity I needed to take the plunge. As a performer it’s more than just fear of change, drastically altering your look leads to the eventual expense of getting new headshots and promo pics. In fact, when my college agent at the time asked for more headshots to send to schools and I said I needed time to get new ones because I had cut my hair, there was dead silence on the other line. During that silence I realized that he viewed my long hair as a selling point, a crucial feature of my marketability, more than my musical or comedic talent.

I have since gone from shaggy to short, and from short hair to the current buzz cut, because I love reinvention (and my hair keeps getting thinner). But reinvention is good. I’m like Madonna, but, you know, a guy. And a comedian. Oh, and I can’t dance. But other than that…


All 50 States Day 11: Hawaii!

Iao Valley State Park

All 50 States Day 11:


The U.S.’ 50th state was also my 50th state! I was stuck on 49 for several years and was wondering if I’d have to resort to going there on vacation and doing an open mic just to say I’d performed there. But in 2010 not only did I finally landed a gig in Hawaii, the show was on my birthday! The wonderful people at B.Y.U. Hawaii brought me in for a show on their campus on the north shore of Oahu and I flew in a week early to try to see a bit of the state.

My week in Hawaii started with a weekend in Honolulu where I stayed in Waikiki Beach and explored the city. I poked around the beach, hit a couple of parks, and had a Mai Tai at the Outrigger Reef hotel where one of my sisters had her first big singing gig about 20 years prior.

When planning my trip I had to decide if I wanted to island hop, and if so, which island to I hop to. I chose Maui because I wanted to do some snorkeling and Molokini, a small crescent shaped island formed from an ancient volcano cone, is just off the coast of Wailea. I stayed up the shore in a groovy older motel called the Aston Maui Lu*, in a great town called Kihei. I checked out Iao Valley State Park, sang karaoke at a restaurant bar, and sailed on a catamaran for a snorkeling trip. Sadly it was too windy for the catamaran to navigate the Molokini crater, but I got to snorkel in some great reefs, saw a sea turtle, and the crew threw up the sail in the strong winds and I got to experience a pretty thrilling ride.

I flew back to Oahu the day before my show at BYU Hawaii and a couple of very helpful and friendly students met me at the airport and drove with my up to Laie, where they treated me to the infamous local dish called the Loco Moco—a hamburger patty served over a plate of rice and covered with a friend egg and gravy.

The show on my birthday was so much fun and was a great way to wind up an amazing week. The audience included students and people from town, and after the show the student activities advisor told the crowd it was my birthday and they all sang “Happy Birthday” to me to end the night. After the show I hit the hotel bar—oh, I didn’t even mention, they put me up at Turtle Bay, the resort where they filmed Forgetting Sarah Marshall!

So yeah, I had a great week in Hawaii and it was a memorable way to check all 50 states off of my to-do list. I am looking forward to returning and seeing more islands.

Top Row, left to right: Waikiki selfie with Diamond Head in background; Color Polaroid of Maui sunset; Getting my Hunter S. Thompson on while sailing in Maui; Molokini crater.

Middle Row, left to right: Iao Valley State Park with quality lens flare, Snorkel selfie; swimming selfie in Kihei; Laie Hawaii Temple in Laie, North Shore of Oahu.

Bottom row: Rocks at Waimea Beach and yes, I jumped! Polaroid of a shrimp shack at a shrimp farm on the North Shore of Oahu.

Maui Lu Motel
The late, great Aston Maui Lu Motel in Kihei, HI

*when going back to find the name of the groovy motel that I liked so much in Kihei I started poking around on google maps in the area to read the names of the hotels, sure I would remember it once I saw the name. I couldn’t find it. I switched to satellite photo mode. I saw a large, bulldozer area of land by the beach, a construction site.

The spot was labeled “Maui Bay Villas by Hilton Grand…” and I had a sinking feeling that the funky mid-century motel I dug so much had been bulldozed for a new corporate resort. I searched my old emails for a receipt to get the name and address of the motel: The Aston Maui Lu at 575 S. Kihei Rd.

I entered the address in google maps and it put the pin right smack dab in the middle of the construction site. Turns out it’s a friggin’ timeshare slated to open Spring of 2021.

google map construction site
Former site of the Aston Maui Lu Hotel

Fare thee well, Aston Maui Lu! You were a dope, classic motel with nice grounds and kick ass pool.

All 50 States Day 9: Florida!

hotels in Miami Beach

All 50 States Day 9:


The second “road gig” I ever did was in Florida! In 8th grade I got called up to the high school orchestra for their trip to Orlando because they needed some cellos to round out the ensemble. We flew to Orlando over spring break, had a day at Disneyland, won a silver medal in the competition we were there for, and I bought the t-shirt you see in my High School freshman class picture.

So no, that picture wasn’t actually taken in Florida, but apparently I liked that shirt so much I needed to brandish it in my yearbook for all to see. And did I mention it’s actually a half t-shirt? It was the 80s, we wore things like that.

I have since been back to Florida for many shows. Early in my touring days I did a couple of weeks at the Comedy Corner in West Palm Beach, where I featured for a young Kevin James and a bitter Judy Tenuta (different weeks). I’ve also performed at a bunch of colleges, including Florida State, University of Central Florida (at an outdoor spring festival where I followed a metal band and preceded Less Than Jake), Embry Riddle University in Daytona (where I took a couple of extra days to visit the Kennedy Space Center), University of West Florida way over in Pensacola, and Rollins College in Winter Park.

Florida has also been the embarkation point for several cruise gigs I’ve done in the past few years, departing from Port Canaveral. I’ve even taken non-comedy trips to Florida for a friend’s wedding, a couple of weekend getaways, and since my sister moved to the Tampa area a couple of years ago, family visits!

I still haven’t been to the Florida Keys yet, but I’m sure my Buffet days are ahead of me.

  • High school freshman year school pic
  • Crowd at UCF for spring festival show, 2002
  • Cruise Ship with Kennedy Space Center in background, 2019
  • Selfie with a rocket, Kennedy Space Center 2010
  • B&W Polaroid of Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center, 2010
  • Me in Ybor City, Tampa, 2019
  • Me at a spring training game in Lakeland, 2020
  • Miami Beach hotels, 2007

All 50 States Day 8: Delaware!

All 50 States Day 8:


Well, I knew that eventually there was going to be a state I didn’t have a personal picture of. I’ve been to Delaware, I swear! I can still write about it, but I won’t have much to put on instagram <frowny face>.

Keep in mind my rules for counting a state: I’ve had to have performed in the state or spent at least a night there. With Delaware, anyone who’s driven from New York City to mid-Atlantic region cities like Baltimore or DC has driven through the tiny northern tip of the state near Wilmington, but that doesn’t count!

I know of at least two college shows I’ve done in Delaware, the University of Delaware in March of 2001 and a small college called Goldy Beacom College in Wilmington in January of 2003. For the latter show I remember going out to a local bar & grill after the show and seeing an acoustic duo cover band and it was the fist time I think I heard the Jimmy Eat World song “The Middle” all the way through. During the second chorus I joked with the people at my table that if it strictly followed the rules of a pop song it would go to the bridge. It did. During the bridge I said the next rule of pop songwriting is breaking it down for the third verse, and sure enough the song breaks down for the third verse.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing! Standard song structures become standard because they work!

Also, I was reminded by my note in the google map of past gigs I put together (check it out here) that the show at Goldey Beacom didn’t have a sound system, I had to play completely acoustic in a multifunction room. the fun of putting this project together is all the little details!


All 50 States Day 7: Connecticut!

All 50 States Day 7:


Ah, Connecticut, you crazy Nutmeg State that I have to pronounce “Connect-i-cut” in my head to spell correctly! You’re so close to my home base in Brooklyn, NY, and yet so far!

With its little southwestern dog-leg reaching toward New York City, the Connecticut border is a mere 37 miles from downtown Brooklyn, which makes places like Norwalk and Fairfield accessible for day trips, easy weekend escapes, or even (shudder) the reverse commuting day job. I’ve spent some summer days in Fairfield with friends at a beach house belonging to one of their families, and I’ve also performed in Fairfield at both Sacred Heart University and Fairfield University.

Other colleges I’ve played in the state are Connecticut College in New London, Albertus Mangus in New Haven, and U Conn in Storrs, where I met a second cousin and her family after the show. Turns out I have relatives there!

Two of my appearances opening for George Carlin took place in Connecticut, one at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport on March 13, 2008, and the next night at Foxwoods Casino. I have vivid memories of both shows, the beauty of the Klein auditorium compared to the ‘beauty’ of downtown Bridgeport, and having a conversation with Carlin backstage after my set at Foxwoods, when he told me about “Failing: A Very Difficult Piece for String Bass” and thought i’d like it. He said he’d send me a CD of it after the trip and sure enough I got a CD in the mail a week later with a post-it note on it that simply said “from George Carlin.” He was right, I liked it.

And there’s even something from Connecticut that remains in my everyday life: my gold sparkly Music Man Stingray bass that I record with regularly. If you’ve heard any of my self produced albums since 2004, you’ve heard the bass I bought on eBay and drove to Connecticut (either Danbury or Waterbury, I’m trying to verify) to pick up from a music store. The purchase was against the wishes of my girlfriend at the time and in hindsight her opposition should have been a huge red flag. I mean, look at that thing! It’s magnificent!

  1. Foxwoods Marquee, 2008
  2. Ritch Duncan and I, proud of our grilling skillz, 1999(?)
  3. With the Student Activities board at UConn, 2011
  4. Shot of me looking all LL Bean on Fairfield Beach, 2000(?)
  5. The lovely Merritt Parkway in autumn, on a drive back to NYC from gigs in Vermont, 2008
  6. The epic and amazing gold sparkle Music Man StingRay bass! Purchased in 2002, pictured here in 2020.

All 50 States Day 6: Colorado!

Selfie in Durango

All 50 States Day 5:


Transfers at Denver International Airport don’t count! I only count a state if I’ve actually spent a night there with feet on non-airport grounds. Them’s the rules!

I was able to check Colorado off of my to-do list early in my touring life with a gig at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, CO, a flat and dusty railroad stop in the Northeastern corner of the state.

I’ve also been to Denver for a few odd gigs, and when I say ‘odd’ I mean it. One was a corporate gig for Comedy Central at a regional cable provider convention that was set up on the concourse of Coors Field (not during a Rockies game). A magician and I took turns performing on a stage somewhere beneath the right field grandstands.

Another Denver gig was a promotional campaign for a liquor brand. The promotion involved wheeling a portable sound system to different bars so I could pop in and do a quick ambush set of music while aspiring models sold flavored shots. That gig (which also took me to Milwaukee and Cleveland–glamorous!) was mostly terrible but there was one stop at an outdoor plaza in downtown Denver that was fun because I was set up like a street musician and people actually listened. To this day I tense up every time I see a bottle of Pucker.

Other college gigs in Colorado include Colorado School of Mines and Technology in Golden, Adams State in Alamosa, and Ft. Lewis College in Durango, which is a lovely former mining town in the southwestern part of the state. That last gig was during the school’s Homecoming weekend, which included a large bonfire and me hosting karaoke after my set. I don’t remember if I sang the song “Light My Fire” but I should have.


Arkansas—All 50 States Day 4

Downtown Rogers, AR, May 1990

Day 4 of my All 50 States chronicle takes us to…


I got to Arkansas early in life because my maternal grandmother lived there on and off and eventually retired in Rogers, AR in the northwest corner of the state. When I would road trip back and forth from Illinois to L.A. for college, visiting Grandma in Arkansas would be one of my social calls on the way, along with Mom in Texas, and friends at ASU in Tempe.

In my touring days I’ve done a bunch of shows in Arkansas, all colleges and universities, including University of Arkansas campuses in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and the main campus in Fayetteville. I’ve also performed at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas State up in Jonesboro, and possibly my favorite name of the bunch: Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.

coffee mug
Arkansas swag! Mug from Ouachita Baptist University!

In fact, I liked the words Ouachita and Arkadelphia so much that the mug the student activities board gave me has survived multiple moves and outlived most of the school swag I received over the years.


Alaska—All 50 States Day 2

Denali from Talkeetna

State #2 in my All 50 States Travelogue is…


When I tell people I’ve been to all 50 states people often ask, “even Alaska?”

Yes! Even Alaska! It’s one of the 50 states! I’ve actually been to our 49th state multiple times (5, I think, two of the trips kind of blend together), with my first visit being relatively early in my touring career.

Back in mid/late ‘90s, as an eager, young comedian new to the college entertainment market, I showcased at the Pacific Northwest Regional NACA conference and landed myself a ton of shows over the next year throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. University of Alaska Anchorage took advantage of one of those blocks of shows and brought me up for a show in April 1997.

I spent a few extra days in and around Anchorage and took a day trip up to Talkeetna, a few hours north, to see if I could get a glimpse of Denali, the highest mountain in North America. The weather gods were good to me that day and the normally clouded over peak was on full display.

I’ve been back to UAA a few times since, once in February during a big festival called the Fur Rondy, and a couple times in August during orientation. Each gig I would take time for a few day trips, a snowy drive down to Seward on the Kenai peninsula and an August trip to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer to name a few.

In the summer of 2018 I got my first taste of southeast Alaska working a cruise ship that took me from Juneau to Vancouver, with a stop in the town of Ketchikan. While having lunch in Ketchikan a local asked me if I was a charter boat captain—fishing is the main industry there, aside from tourism—and I had to confess that I came in on a cruise ship. At least I could take solace in the fact that I wasn’t such an obvious tourist.


  • Top left: view of Denali from near Talkeetna, AK, 1997
  • Top center: selfie in beautiful downtown Talkeetna! 2004
  • Top right: top of Flat Top Mountain, outside of Anchorage, 2004
  • Bottom left: selfie from cruise ship with downtown Juneau behind, 2018
  • Bottom center: signpost in Anchorage, 2004
  • Bottom right: selfie on Creek Street in Ketchikan, 2018

Alabama—All 50 States

Fun fact about Rob P.: thanks to years of touring as a comedian and musician I’ve been to all 50 US states! And while we’re all on lockdown for the Coronavirus pandemic I figured it was as good a time as any to archive the accomplishment. My plan is to do one a day, I’ll go in alphabetical order, and hopefully by the time we get to Wyoming we’ll all be able to travel again. Or at least have an effing picnic!

So let’s get started with…


I’ve taken one trip to Alabama and it was brief, a one-night stay for a show at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in April of 2004. It was an “isolated date” as we called them in the college entertainment world, meaning it wasn’t part of a block booking and I didn’t have any other gigs in the area that week. I did a show at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois a few days prior and was staying with family in the Chicago area before and after the trek to Huntsville for the gig.

I remember flying in to Nashville and renting a car for the 2+ hour drive to Huntsville, which is about 20 miles south of the Tennessee-Alabama border, opting for the fly and drive because a flight into Huntsville proper was too pricey. I’m glad I did because just after I crossed into Alabama on I-65 south I saw an interstate rest stop and I was greeted with a good omen for the trip: an actual Saturn 1B rocket.

I love roadside attractions and I love space stuff, especially Apollo-era space stuff, even more; so yeah, I pulled over to see this beast of a rocket up close, on display as part of the Alabama Welcome Center. It was a good omen for the show that night because, what I wasn’t aware of until I got on campus, Huntsville is a big engineering and tech hub. NASA’s Marshall Flight Center is there, UAH has strong engineering and science programs, and the crowd at my show skewed toward the brainy and nerdy and away from the fratty and party obnoxious students.

I don’t remember many specifics about the show and my journal entries from the time are more focused on getting over a bad breakup, but I do remember it being a fun show and a good trip. Any time you get to see a rocket up close is a good trip.

Laissez Les Chansons Droller!

OK, I think I just made up a French verb, but it doesn’t matter because everyone speaks the universal language of Music With Funny Lyrics But If You Don’t Understand Them You Can Still Enjoy the Music!

I had a wonderful time doing shows in Switzerland and Paris, and catching up with my longtime friend Jen Kirwin, an American comic who runs several English language Expat Comedy Nights in and around Geneva, Switzerland.

My first show was the day after I landed (and was still pretty jet-lagged) at Mr. Pickwick Pub in Geneva. The English-style pub is a haven for expats and the downstairs showroom was a perfect spot for a night of English language comedy. Sharing the bill with me were Magda Mihalia, a very funny Romanian comedian who performs in English, French, and Romanian; Robbie Toole, an American currently living in Geneva; Marie Connolly, an Australian comic who now makes her home in Lyon, France; and Jen.

On stage at Mr. Pickwick Pub in Geneva, Switzerland
On stage at Mr. Pickwick Pub in Geneva, Switzerland

The crowd was a lot of fun and included people from several countries, not just the English-speaking world. As a performer it was interesting to see the different levels of English comprehension and how it affected my set. I have a few songs where the lyrics are rapped rapid-fire so I tended to slow down as much as I could without changing the groove of the music from pop track to ballad. One person, an Italian I think, said after the show that he couldn’t understand everything but even when he couldn’t he enjoyed the music. Totally made lugging my guitar across the Atlantic worth it!

Train of High Speed!
Train of High Speed!

The day after my first show I hopped a train to Paris, and not just any train, one of those fancy high speed ones! Got to Paris in 3 hours, spent a lovely weekend there and did a set on an English language monthly show called The Great British American Comedy Night! There were 5 comics in the lineup, 2 French, 2 Americans currently living in Paris, and me, and the crowd was packed into a cozy showroom on a boat docked in the Seine.

A peek at the Jardin Sauvage stage before the crowd arrived for the Great British American Comedy Night
A peek at the Jardin Sauvage stage before the crowd arrived for the Great British American Comedy Night

The crowd was energetic and amazing and it was a truly unique experience.

Then it was back to Switzerland and another Expat show with Jen and Magda, this time in a lovely music room called the Bleu Lézard, in Lausanne, Switzerland. They call these basement rooms “caves” (pronounced “kaaahve”) and the Bleu Lézard was my favorite of the bunch. Even though my voice was a little scratchy from a long weekend in Paris I had a blast performing.

The cave at the Bleu Lézard in Lausanne, Switzerland, pre-show
The cave at the Bleu Lézard in Lausanne, Switzerland, pre-show

And here’s a short clip from that show, unlisted on YouTube just for you guys. I opened with a very old bit of mine about the Friends TV show’s theme song, but even though that joke is pushing 20 years old it was a great opener for the international crowd because not only was/is the show popular in Europe, the bit was a good gauge of people’s familiarity with American English!

Me, onstage at the Caustic Comedy Club in Carouge, Switzerland! Photo by Jen Kirwin :-)
Me, onstage at the Caustic Comedy Club in Carouge, Switzerland! Photo by Jen Kirwin 🙂

And rounding out the performances on the trip was a Valentine’s-themed show at the Caustic Comedy Club in Carouge, Switzerland, just outside of Geneva. Caustic is a beautiful and friendly club and the showroom is another amazing “cave.”

I hope to get back to Europe soon for more shows and to hit these spots again, and check out the photo gallery above for some other pics from the trip, including the invasion of Brooklyn hipness into downtown Geneva!

© Paravonian