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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

A Pleasant Payback

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Friday December 7th, 2012 – Negaunee, MI

   Oh, how sweet little victories can be. After a lifetime of consistent inconvenience and constant scheduling snafus, I finally caught a break and something fell into place. I don’t know when this will ever happen again - if ever, so I’m going to squeeze every last drop of satisfaction out of it.

   The Upper Peninsula of Michigan run I’m on this week has always had ridiculous routing with an insane amount of driving involved. It’s always been an extreme test of stamina, and weather is more often than not a major factor that can turn everything ugly in a hurry. It has happened often.

   What screws things up is the Saturday night in Milwaukee at the Northern Lights Theatre at the Potawatomi Casino. It’s a fantastic venue and I love playing there more than just about anywhere else I can think of, but having to do all that driving can really take a lot of the fun out of the run.

   Not only that, there has been a vacant Friday on this run for years, and it’s a big inconvenience not to mention a kick in the wallet. It’s almost impossible to find a Friday to fill that hole due to the scarcity of population in the U.P. There are only so many gigs to be had, and it’s not many.

   One of the very few if not the only option to try for is Pasquali’s Pizza in Negaunee, just west of Marquette. That place has been doing comedy shows for probably years or longer, and I have worked there more times than I can count – especially in the early days when I needed the work.

   It’s been a long time since I’ve done it, mostly because of the long drive involved. I just don’t enjoy making the North Woods tour for one night, but since I was going to do it anyway I asked the booker if it might be available this particular week. It usually comes with a Saturday booking in Sheboygan, WI so I wasn’t sure if it would work but I didn’t think it would hurt to at least ask.

   The booker has a hard time filling it also, as gas prices have sucked the profits from everyone’s wallet. I told her I was going to already be up in the U.P., and it might be a good fit for all if she could find a local for the Sheboygan gig that would only do the Saturday. That’s what happened.

   Everything worked out perfectly for once, and I couldn’t be more delighted. It’s only about 175 miles from Sault Ste. Marie to Negaunee, but I’d have to drive more than 500 to get myself back to Milwaukee anyway, so this was like a night off. Plus I was able to pull down another payday.

   The guy in charge at Pasquali’s is Clark Gravedoni, one of the absolute nicest people I’ve ever worked for at any level of my comedy journey. He really goes out of his way to treat comedians well, and is honest as the snow is high in the U.P. He has always been a peach to work for, and I felt I owed him a great show for stealing his money all those times when I was a brutal opener.

   This is a place that’s good for training purposes, and that’s no insult to Clark. It’s a small town, but the people come out to see a show and they are unbelievably enthusiastic and friendly. I have vivid memories of stinking up that stage when I started, but Clark kept booking me back and I’m very grateful for that. I felt I owed him my best show tonight as a payback, so that’s what I did.

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