I’ve been wanting a new rig for quite some time, and few weeks ago, Robin and I finally made that happen. Check out my awesome new (to me) 2008 Toyota Highlander (pic below). I’ve creatively named her, “Highlander,” and yes, there can only be one.
Since 2013 I’ve been driving a nice little 2001 Honda Civic stick shift. It was the right car for our family at the time. It was also what we could afford. I needed reliable transportation that got good gas mileage and would get me back and forth to work with no hassle, and it definitely filled the bill. But as the years passed, I found the Civic to be a bit too small and too low to the ground. Getting in and out was a pain, as was scraping the front end practically every time I drove into or out of a parking lot. As a small four-door sedan, it also didn’t do much to help me achieve my goals of getting out on the North State’s trails more often to ride my mountain bike, hike, or ski.
Robin’s car—a Toyota Matrix hatchback—continues to be great around town. But we were recently reminded of its limitations on a very rainy drive over State Route 299 to Trinidad for a post Thanksgiving weekend mini getaway. The super sketchy hydroplaning on that trip, all-around unconfident handling in anything but nice dry conditions, no 4WD, smallness, and lack of long-trip comfort, made it clear to us both that it was time for a change.
Robin also needs to drive up to Mt. Shasta and Dunsmuir several times during the first half of 2019 to teach classes. A few years back we tried to make it to Mt. Shasta in the Matrix on what turned into a very snowy day. We made it as far as Dunsmuir before needing to turn around. So snow is a complete no-go in that car, but will be no problem in the new one.
When we found Highlander at the local Toyota dealer we decided to go for it and I’m so glad we did. I love my new car and I can’t wait to take it on a road-trip or two in 2019.
Highlander is causing strange changes in my behavior. I’ve taken to parking in the outskirts of parking lots—away from all other cars if possible—to minimize any potential door dings and dents. I’ve also been keeping her super clean inside and out. I even bought a nice little water-tight car trash bag that hangs on the rear of the passenger seat. I’ve never been like this about a car and it is a strange, new experience, that I'm super grateful to have.
Let's just hope that she's truly an Immortal.
I finally caught a comedy show in Redding, CA. It is something I’d been meaning to do for a while, but just hadn’t made happen until Sunday night. What a crazy, eye-opening experience.
When a memory of the show flashes across my mind, I immediately start to shake my head and whisper angry insults under my breath until I can pull it back together with some deep breathing. I don’t know what I really expected from a show by a comic I’d never heard of at a restaurant/brewery, but I’m disappointed in Redding for being a such a shitty audience and at the comic for letting the crowd walk all over him. He seemed to have zero control, and couldn’t shut them up with laughs.
I’m no comedy expert and I’m also deathly afraid of speaking in front of large groups, so there’s no way I could have done better. I would have been a thousand times worse. Anxiety immediately bubbles up when I even think about trying to do that myself. I’ve never done stand-up, but I love funny people, have big respect for the craft, and appreciate what it takes to go up on stage and make people laugh. I’m also really fascinated by and respect people who hit the road and bring joy and laughter to people in cities across the country. Sunday night I learned that you need a minimum of two things for a successful comedy show: a genuinely funny comic, and an audience who actually wants to laugh.
I saw Seinfeld with Tom Papa many years ago in Redding; Marc Maron with Jen Kirkman in San Francisco five or six years ago; and a live Harmontown podcast in LA last year. All of those shows were undeniably hilarious. I’ve watched a lot of comedy specials and sets online. I knew a local show at brewery restaurant in Redding probably wouldn’t be great, but morbid curiosity drew me out of the house on Sunday night. I wanted to find out how a road comic would really do playing here. Who comes to Redding to do comedy anyway?
Finding out was a painful experience. The comic did over an hour and had some pretty funny crowd work and jokes that made me laugh. I laughed quite a bit, but the painful part was that he had almost no control of the crowd and had a tough time keeping things rolling throughout the show—especially during the last half-hour which was constantly interrupted by characters who emerged from the crowd like “Drunk Jesus,” “Cranberry Sauce Guy,” and a lady dubbed “Saddle Up” by the comic. It was pure, unmitigated chaos.
I don’t understand people who pay to go out to a meal and a comedy show, then sit there with their arms crossed and a sour-puss look on their face. I could sit at home on the couch and be unamused. Did you come here laugh and have a good time? If not, why don’t you GO HOME?
The most horrific part of the show was the out of control chiming in from the many characters I mentioned above and a few others. My take-away: If you rely too-much on riffing with crowd work and don’t have the material or improvisational skills to seriously back it up with big, consistent laughs, you. are. royally. fucked. I’ve seen comics expertly shut down hecklers and chimers-in and it is a sight to behold. Usually it happens with a hilarious, rage-filled rant, or a few sharp and witty retorts, followed by an, “OK, why don’t you shut the fuck up.” The bottom line is that they must get big laughs after a hard-core shut down. Unfortunately, this poor dude didn’t have the chops to do that.
I don’t know what was up with the audience, but it was seriously disturbing and disappointing. I’m really glad I went though because it made me realize that I want to live somewhere that really appreciates live comedy and has a shit-ton of it.
I’m going to go back and see the next show at the same venue in December with a different comic to continue the experiment. I’m actually really glad that someone is trying to bring comedy to Redding on a regular basis. I’ll keep you posted.