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

A Night In Peru

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Saturday January 19th, 2013 – Peru, IL

   I had a show tonight in Peru, IL at ‘The Super Bowl’ which has grown to become one of my all time favorite one nighters. On paper, it sounds like a hell gig. Peru is a town near the intersection of I-39 and I-80, and quite honestly before I was booked here I had never heard of it. It’s close to LaSalle, IL and the vicinity is referred to as LaSalle/Peru, but I doubt that helps raise awareness.

   The comedy shows are at a bowling center run by brothers Jim and Bob Stubler. They’ve been running shows there probably twenty years or more, even though I’ve been working there ten or less. I can’t remember how I first got into the rotation, but I did and now I’m an annual regular.

   Both the Stubler brothers have been unbelievably kind with their compliments, and have asked the booker Harry Hickstein to keep me coming back. Harry is also a great guy, and although he’s a comedian he books a few rooms on the side and this happens to one of them. It’s my favorite.

   Sure, it’s a bowling alley in an obscure place and that might not sound like comedy heaven but those people come out to laugh and have supported comedy for twenty years. They’re exactly the same kind of people who go to Las Vegas and see shows there. The average person thinks that to play Vegas is a big deal – and it is – but most of the audiences are from Perus all over America.

   I’ve usually done very well here, and it didn’t hurt my cause that the Stubler brothers have both become fans over the years. That’s always nice to achieve anywhere as a performer, but is never guaranteed. Most owners and bookers look at us at interchangeable and replaceable, and couldn’t care less what we do on stage. These guys are different, and if nobody else can appreciate it I do.

   Another thing I like about this gig is it’s not a far drive. It’s maybe 100 miles from where I live and any time I can get paid and sleep in my own bed it’s a victory. The opening act bowed out at the last minute because of the flu, and I called Bill Gorgo who was happy to fill in. Another plus.

   Bill sets me up perfectly and is a headliner in his own right, so the audience was in for a double dip for their money. The joint was packed to the rafters when we got there, and we assumed we’d have another red hot show. I would have bet my paycheck on it, but I’m glad I didn’t. It was hell.

   First off, the sound system was malfunctioning all night and there was no backup. It started for Bill and never recovered, and it affected the whole show. Also, there was a table of women front and center that were having a birthday party and they wouldn’t shut up or stop texting all night.

   Bill and I are about as road seasoned as it gets, but both of those obstacles slowed us down. We did our best, but it frustrated us both to the point of distraction. We wanted to give that audience our very best as we always do, but it was a major struggle. My one hour set was jungle warfare.

   Afterward, Jim took me in his office and apologized for the conditions and said he would have the sound fixed immediately. He told me how funny and professional I was, and said he thought I should be famous. That’s a classy way to handle it, and it’s why I love working for these guys.

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