December 21st, 2014 -- I just checked into the Grand Hotel in Minot, ND. I have performed in Minot many times in the last few years. It started with the ND State Fair and since then I have been doing all night parties and corporate events a lot here. This Grand Hotel sits majestically on the bluff overlooking the city. It is across from the airport and I have seen it every time I am here, but never entered the doors till now.
As I enter, I realize this is a classy place! I will be doing a show tonight for 200+ employees and guests that work for EnerBase, a regional Cenex gas station management chain. They run the gas stations and distribute fuel and lubricants. They are very big company. Not as big as Exxon-Mobile, but the same idea.
As I enter my hotel room , it is a suite. I say, “ah, what a nice room.” It’s a two-room suite very tastefully decorated with dark stained oak veneer furnishings. It brings a story to mind - a story of the road.
A few years ago, I had three shows back to back; Saturday night, Sunday Night and a third on Monday night. All three were at 4+ star hotels, and they were in three corners of the USA. My tale is also about little sleep.
The first show was at a Grand Hotel Marriott in Albuquerque New Mexico. I flew into Albuquerque and fellow comedy hypnotist Rusty Z met me at the airport. He supplied a sound system for my gig. He drove me out to the hotel, about 20-30 miles outside the city and he opened for me with some brilliant stand-up comedy. I must plug Rusty here. He is one of the funniest people I know; he is clever, original and his FaceBook page is worth following.
Rusty warmed them up, I remember I then proceeded to put the group into somnambulism and did a terribly boring show. No one was animated. I had a half dozen people under, but they didn’t move. They just sat there in comas doing nothing. After the show, Rusty told me, “I love shows like that. The easy ones are no challenge. These are the ones that challenge me. I love them!” I think he has issues, personally, but this is not a story about Rusty’s issues. It’s a story of three 4 Star Hotels in three nights.
Rusty packed up the sound system and left me to my own devices. I had a room at the hotel and I headed to bed. In the morning I had to get back to the airport and I had to awakening at about 4 am to be on a 6 am flight. I had to take a limousine. The hotel would not call a taxi. It was not their “style.” The most memorable part of this trip was I did meet Rusty for the first time, and we have been friends ever since. I vaguely remember how amazing the view was of the painted New Mexico desert, the cliffs and colors that surrounded the hotel as we arrived. That was all I got to see of that hotel and the landscape because I had to leave before the sun came up the next morning.
I am now flying to Jackson, MS, then I drive 3.5 hr’s to the Gulf Coast and as I arrive at my hotel I realize I am at another Marriott Grand Hotel. Before I do my show I took a drive down to the beaches and walked along the sand for about ten minutes. I then returned to the hotel and prepared for my show. I performed for a Cigar Manufacturer, or maybe they were an importer. I forget that detail but I do remember, this show went great. Quite a few people went under and many of them were very animated. Almost immediately after the show, I went to sleep as I was exhausted from lack of sleep the previous night and the time zones were also working against me. Besides, I had a flight the next day at 11 am. The plane was leaving from Jackson, MS and I had a 3.5 hr. drive back to the airport. Sometimes you want to save a dollar so you fly to a regional but distant airport and drive. This was one of those times I made that bad mistake.
To make an 11 am flight three hours away one must rise at about 5:30 am, prepare for an hour, then drive for 3-1/2 hours to be at the airport an hour before the flight. I made it, but was very tired and I am pretty sure I slept a lot on the plane.
My third trip was for a Monday night show on Mackinac Island in Michigan. I had never been to Mackinac Island. I had heard about this island from a lifelong friend and girlfriend from my 20’s, Karen Bell. Karen once told me her ultimate dream was to work on that island semi-retired for the rest of her life. That’s all I knew about the place. I arrive and realize, I am performing at “The Grand Hotel.” This grand hotel was a 5-star facility; white-gloved Jamaican waiters served in the dinning room that had a grand view out of the lake and lawns. It was like a scene out of a movie. The hotel was built in 1886, and it has the longest porch of any facility in the world, supposedly. It is in pristine condition. It is on an island and one must take a ferry to get there. The agent that hired me picked me up at the airport. We drove 3+ hours to the ferry that took us out into Lake Huron. When we arrived our bags met us in our rooms. This can mess with your nerves when your act is in those bags and you have not seen them for hours.
I went to the room where I would perform and made sure all was ready for the show. This show went great considering I got one person to stay under, and it was the CEOs nephew. He was extremely animated, but the CEO did not want his nephew used as the only subject and he didn’t want him to be embarrassed so I got a little note passed to me by the agent and I had to awaken him early, not doing the entire show. That is how stuffy corporate parties can go at times.
After the show I crashed and burned in my old-fashioned 5-star hotel room. The agent, his girl friend and I did schedule ourselves enough time to explore the island before we left at about 1:00 PM so we had a few hours in the morning to walk and see some of the sights.
And so, in summary - I worked three Grand Hotel gigs in a row, each paying me my premium dollar, one in northern Michigan on an island hours from the airport; one along the southern gulf coast in Alabama hours from the airport and the third all the way over in Albuquerque, NM out in the western desert. I got to enjoy almost none of the luxury I was given the opportunity to see and that is the excitement of the road.