“I went to rehab in wine country just to keep my options open.”
WELCOME TO ILLINOIS: THE LAND OF LINCOLN
I made it bitches!
My 14-hour travel day from Toronto, Canada to Chicago, Illinois had finally come to a close. I was extremely tired but still booked to perform at a comedy show. My boy Ronnie Ray set me up with a booking for a show at The WIP Theater in the northern part of Chicago. I could’ve cancelled. I could’ve called my boy up and said, sorry man but I need to go to sleep and get ready for my Wisconsin-Minnesota-Iowa trip tomorrow. But I didn’t. That’s not how I am wired. I follow through.
And besides that … I wasn’t going to miss stage time in Chicago.
As it turns out, the night itself was great. Everyone was very supportive and the audience was super fun. I had a great set and was very appreciative of the experience. That was my first time performing in Chicago and I loved it.
By the way Chicago, your toll system is wacked out. At one toll booth along the 90 freeway, I needed $1.90 in coins to pay my way through. Or … I could take note of a website they had listed and pay later. What the fuck?! Who the heck carries $1.90 in coins around with them? Fix that for sure. That was a major fail. It slows down traffic and is quite archaic.
My boy Ronnie Ray (from Chicago) just came out with a new comedy album so make sure you check it out. Ronnie Ray was one of the first comedians I met when I first started doing comedy in Los Angeles. He has always been a mentor and friend and is one of the funniest kats in this business.
“There are times you can’t really see or even feel how sweet life can be. Hopefully its mountains will be higher than its valleys are deep. I know things that are broken can be fixed. Take the punch if you have to, hit the canvas and then get up again. Life is worth it.”
-Queen Latifah (Dana Owens)
Atlantic City, New Jersey was surprisingly fun. I always make jokes about Atlantic City being the fake Las Vegas but I had a helluva time.
That probably had something to do with my buddy, Dean Delray. Dean was in town performing with the rock band, Alice in Chains, doing 20 minutes of comedy before the start of their rock concert at The Trump Taj Majal. How freaking cool!
It’s an epic opportunity for him to be touring with them this summer. And a wonderful coincidence that New Jersey was the next state on my ultimate road trip checklist.
Can you believe it? First off, I got to hang with my buddy, Dean. Again. I saw him a few weeks ago in Denver and we did comedy together at Comedy Works. Secondly, I met Alice in Chains, a great rock group and even better group of people (they love golf as much as I do). And finally, I knocked another item off the bucket list by seeing them perform, which was my first time seeing a rock concert LIVE. It’s hard to believe that but it’s true. From beginning to end.
As if that wasn’t epic enough, I hung out backstage with everyone, ate some great food and stayed at the Trump Taj Mahal for the night in a killer suite. Thanks again Dean. You rock dude.
“I’ve found that every time you stand up for something and open your mouth, you alienate someone. I spent a lot of time wanting to become rich and famous, then when I got there, I found it was hollow. What is important to me is my connection with family and friends, and to nature, and to stand up for what I believe in. It really makes you feel good to follow through with your convictions. Granted, between opening my mouth and some of the movies I’ve chosen to do, I’ve alienated a lot of my fans, I’m sure. Hopefully I’ll make better movies, but I’ll never stop opening my large, prominent mouth.”
For many years, I’ve heard Texas referred to as: The United States of Texas. I guess their culture exhibits the kind of confident mentality that makes Texans think they can be their own country. It’s definitely in the air. Texas is different. It looks different. Feels different. Tastes different. The people are different. They love their guns, their burgers and their hometown.
On our way to the city of Dallas from Oklahoma, Patrick gave me history lessons on everything from buildings to butterflies to burgers to skylines to cows to real estate (butterflies is a minor embellishment). I kept thinking, damn, these folks are really proud of where they come from. You have to respect that on a certain level. I mean, why wouldn’t you be proud of where you came from?
My only regret during my visit was not trying this place called, “WHATABURGER”. From what I’ve heard from different Texan natives, it is probably THEE best burger place ever opened. Of course it is. They say the same about In N Out burgers in California and Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. “Oh my god, these are the best. You have to try one.”
Okay, Kemosabe. I got it.
Honestly, over the past few years, I’ve removed burgers from my diet. Not completely! I love burgers but try to only eat them once a month. I stay closer to Turkey Burgers. Burgers are great every now and again but having them as a steady part of my diet as I get older is not smart. Still, I should have eaten at least ONE on this trip. Next time.
Patrick had booked me a guest spot on a comedy show at a Caribbean restaurant called, “TASTE OF THE ISLANDS” in Plano, Texas. It was a pretty big establishment. Bar. Restaurant. Dance floor. I liked it.
Before performing, I had the chicken roti and a Vita Malt. I felt like I was back home in the Caribbean again. The food was delicious and our bartender, Bryttnie, was courteous, hospitable and exotically attractive. That’s a nice Texas combo.
Patrick killed during his comedy set. I had not seen him perform in person in probably 4 or 5 years. Man, it was nice watching him stand there and slice through his material. Even if the crowd was mediocre. It didn’t matter and as a comic, it shouldn’t. It’s our job to find the pulse of the room and deliver. I had a good set. It’s always cool doing comedy in a totally different place and trying to see if your material works there. Good times.
Moving on, I was thinking of giving a shout out to the Holiday Inn I stayed at in Cockrell, Texas but the bathroom smelled like sewage. The rest of the room was great but I kept that bathroom door closed. I was only there for one night, thankfully. And what else would you expect from a hotel located in a city with “Cock” in the name?
Dallas has one of the most beautiful skylines in all of America. If you are ever in Dallas, stay the night and head into the city. Minus all the annoying construction, it’s a beautiful sight.
On my way to Louisiana, I met two ladies at the Louisiana Welcome Center (just outside the border of Texas): Christi and Tina. Texans. They both possessed sincere southern hospitality to go with their beautiful southern hearts. They offered to take a picture of me in front of the Louisiana sign but I had to refuse so I could take my selfie the way I had done it for the past 8 states.
Of course, I took the opportunity to tell them about my journey and they were immediately interested and wished me safe travels. I gave them some business cards and within an hour (while I was on the freeway), I received a Facebook friend request from Christi.
We had some fun Facebook messaging each other and then the Universe took over. They stopped at a Cracker Barrel and wouldn’t you know it, Tina found a Fanta shirt in Alexandria (between the Louisiana Welcome Center and Baton Rouge) and insisted I had to have it.
11 MILES LATER…
Big thanks to Christi and Tina.
That’s not all. I asked them, why the hell they would go to a Cracker Barrel in the middle of nowhere on purpose and as it turns out, Tina was picking up the cutest white chow dog of them all. I had a chance to play with him for a short time. Check out “Samson”.
By the way, don’t google “white chow dog” … you’ll be in a rabbit hole for quite some time.
Bye Dallas. Thanks for such a good stay in a short amount of time.
By the next time I come to Dallas, perhaps they will be their own country?
“The greatest missile in the world is useless … unless it’s targeted. A torpedo is adrift unless it has someplace to go. An arrow is pointless unless it hits something. So it’s important for kids–for everyone, even if you fail at first–to target something and head in that direction. With all your might.”
If you ever get a chance, drive through The Rockies of Colorado. The trees. The mountains. The clouds. The rain. The feeling of nature moving along with your winding drives. Peace. Quiet.
I must’ve seen 2 million different species of trees. They just all looked different. And to top it off, Mother Nature decided to show off and sneak some waterfalls along my drive and sprinkled some water from the sky on my dirty car, along with blowing some mist over the roadways. Whaaat?! So cool.
I kept thinking to myself: Southern California needs to borrow 2 million trees from Southern Colorado. How clean must the air be in this state? Gosh.
Once in the city of Denver, I met up with my buddies Dean Delray and Patrick Puckett. Dean, a headlining comedian from Los Angeles, who travels all over the country, let me perform a couple shows with him while in town. One at Comedy Works Denver and another at this late night place called The Great Pile.
Patrick is a traveling comedian buddy of mine from Dallas, Texas and along with Dean, we all started comedy around the same time 6 or so years ago in Los Angeles. I flew him up to Denver and he is going to help me navigate the next 5 states. How cool is that?
I must quickly mention that it was a pleasant surprise to see another Los Angeles comedian on the Comedy Works show: Bronston Jones. Bronston also travels doing comedy and has a crazy fun room called The Venice Underground in Venice, CA. If you are ever in the area on a Wednesday night, check it out. Bronston is super nice and quite adventurous so we are always sharing travel and/or activity stories.
The Wednesday night show at The Comedy Works was on fire! I had a great set and the night as a whole, was amazing. I am very thankful for friends like Dean, Patrick and Bronston. Think about it — I set out on this exciting 6-week journey across the country and got to hang out with 3 cool comedy buddies in Denver, Colorado AND perform standup at TWO SHOWS!
I love performing standup comedy and this was certainly a perfect way to end my Colorado visit. I made some new fans along the way. They were all curious about my journey through this vast land we call America. Hopefully, they will join in on the fun and learn some things along the way.
If you are reading this and will be in Denver this week, go see Dean Delray at The Comedy Works. He will be there all week until Saturday night. His shows are always fire. Dean works very hard on his craft and hardly ever has a bad show. Tell him I sent you.
Well … it’s late, I’m super tired and my journey continues tomorrow so goodnight. Enjoy some more pics from the Colorado drive.