Yesterday went as smoothly as I could have hoped. Got to Athens at 10 p.m. and after spooning a beagle for 45 minutes of couch sleep, left with TJ at 2 AM to meet up with Justin Heckert in Atlanta, where his wife took us to the airport for a 6 AM departure. We landed in Denver at 8:10 am, where we caught the 8:12 to Albuquerque by the skin of our heart attack. At 9 AM, we stood alive and on time at carousel seven in Albuquerque, miraculously holding our checked luggage.
This was my first time flying Frontier Airlines, and I must say it is a different kind of animal. That’s what the pilot said: “Frontier, a different kind of animal.” Little odd. The pilot’s emergency airbag pitch was a five minute comedy routine, and it was as tight and polished as I’ve heard. He opened with, “Alright, did anyone lose their wallet? (I panic) OKAY, now that I have your attention, please direct your attention up front (big laugh from studio audience/me annoyed).”
I tried to ignore him because I was into a suspenseful Collin Harrison novel, but he rattled off one punchline after another – all with honed timing and big laughs from a normally tough 8 AM crowd. At the deployment part he goes “Take the oxygen mask and place over mouth. Stop screaming. Now paddle.” Pretty edgy for the mandatory deployment speech. He closed with, “If you need anything, please ask Kathy, as she’s our junior flight attendant, and quite frankly, the only one who still cares.” (Big laugh/applause break). Different kind of animal.
Once at the Thrifty kiosk in Albuquerque, I am sorry to admit we were instantly up-sold from a mini-van to a luxury SUV. It’s too early to be adding expenses, but we now have a spacious Chevy Tahoe, along with an insurance waver none of us understand. Apparently, New Mexico is “just one of seven states” where personal car insurance doesn’t help if you get in an accident (more jibber-jabber about paying crazy fees for any days the vehicle is at a repair shop). So we were “hooked up” at $14.99 extra per day for upgrade + insurance waver “thrown in.” No more soccer mom mini-van. We are now in a big black suburban that could pass for CIA.
From Albuquerque, we drove four hours back east to our first show in Portales. This was my first time to New Mexico, and we dove into the subculture with lunch at Subway. I’m not sure I knew tumbleweeds were real things, until I hit the brakes for something I thought was a boulder coming at me, before realizing, “oh, just a tumble weed. Wait, a tumble weed?” Apparently they are more than just metaphors for western ghost towns.
The show had a final audience count of 342 students, and despite sleep deprivation, it went great. It helped that Red Bulls were waiting in the green room to give us wings.
After the photos and autographs, and feeling like we did something right, I received the kind of email that you imagine powerful management companies would send, if you were doing a west coast tour in a fictional movie, or Rockband. It read, “I heard you did well in Portales. Give my office a call.” This was coming from one of the biggest managers in the industry, from one of the largest companies (if not the largest).
Who would have thought Portales, New Mexico would be the place to be “discovered.” Apparently, there is someone in the audience, who immediately after our show placed a call: “Hi, this is Betsy… yeah, sleeper agent stationed at ENMU. Beards of Comedy/great show. Email Joe Zimmerman – he appears to be their leader, based on body language and charisma.”
I imagine I’ll call the office and bumble, “Hey, so is such-and-such in today?”
“No. Of course not. May I take a message?”
“Oh, well she said to call her, because I had a good show in New Mexico.”
“What? You sound stupid. I don’t take down messages from idiots.”
Ideally, it will go more like, “OMG? Joe Zimmerman?! From the Beards of Comedy? Do you mind if I transfer one million dollars into your bank account?”
“Oh, um…well the Beards require 1.5 million as our minimum bank transfer /partnership deal, thingie.”
“How about 2 million?”
“Deal, but we’re not signing any long term contracts, and make it 2.5 million dollars.”
“Sounds great Joe, I’m glad you called.”
It’s 6 am on Thursday and we’re about to drive eleven hours to Scottsdale, AZ to do the Martini Ranch at 9 pm, with guest Mike Kennedy. Looking forward to more literal tumble-weeds.