Hell of Umbrellas

Long before the days where the fear of losing one’s wifi signal would wrench our day there was a simpler way for the day to go right to hell. I commute into Chicago via the train and have for years and there’s always one way to log jam all of the commuters worse than POTUS visiting. It’s so ridiculous on how worthless we act in rain it’s entertaining.  

 The other day it was raining in Chicago, and not the Hollywood style conduce to winning back your ex. It rained in Chicago a slightly lighter clip than the precipitation that hits row of herbs at the grocery store. When it pours in Chicago, it’s not nearly as bad on the commute mainly because our orange slice generation is now able to log in remotely to maintain their productivity and chi.  

The faintest of rain in a morning commute is impactful on a couple levels. As a simple guy it impacts me in regards to work attire as I have two coats a winter over coat, and a trench coat that sold me on a vision of Bogart but delivered me a near complete McGruff costume. In my mind it’s not the end of the world because, one I’m a middle aged guy, two I live in the Midwest and who really cares what I wear, and most importantly, I know I’m not attractive so who cares what rendition of wet cat I perpetuate. 

I think it’s safe to say a good percentage of female commuters (especially in their 20s-30s) hear ‘rain tomorrow’ and before the details come they’re already getting the fashion wetsuits out for the next day. Never mind that the total anticipated precipitation in the entire state is less than three inches, please do put on those absurd knee high rubber boots that I think are intended for cranberry farmers.   

As generally ridiculous most of the inclement weather fashion is, none really slow down the rush hour, except for the umbrella. Now, I agree with many of you thinking, ‘how in the world is the umbrella a fashion statement?’ Clearly, you’ve never seen the animal print umbrellas that pepper Wacker Drive.  

I may be overstepping my bounds here as I am not sure if we as a nation will ever come to terms on gun control, but I think we could actually agree on umbrella control. It’s simple. There should be no umbrellas allowed to be opened in a major metro area. That means most state capitals are A OK!  

Early in my career I worked a bank drive through and I’d lose count each day with the number of SUV drivers hopping the curb. The same level of adept motor skills are on display with people that indeed are trying to chew gum and walk at the same time.  

There are commuters who will get down the stairs and immediately open up the umbrellas, before getting actually out from the over pass. The concept of getting wet is pushing them to defense mode before 8:00 a.m. On behalf of the fellow tall people, there’s nothing more obnoxious than to be blessed with height over six feet only to have a sea of spring loaded tarps pop up in our eyes.  

If I must acknowledge a silver lining in the harassment that umbrellas bring our culture, I will say it does shed just the right light into one’s personality. We have the cheapo, who’s umbrella has at least two broken joints and can’t withstand a single wind gust. The self-absorbed golf umbrella that takes up both sides of the sidewalk as though they are hoisting a Lincoln Navigator in their hands. Finally, umbrellas are good at letting us know who the chump is the relationship as without fail, some guy will always be extending over his umbrella as though he’s modernized the laying of a coat on a puddle.  

I don’t know if cities would ever ban umbrellas but I can hope. In the meantime, I ask you be the change you want to see in the world, and wear a poncho. Sure some people will laugh at you but most will think you just came back from Busch Gardens, and then they’ll be jealous of you. 


Social Interaction Bucket List (for a 33 yr old)

Every year around my birthday I write a bucket list of things to do that I’ve never done before. 1 for each year. Rarely do I get them all crossed off but it’s fun to do dozens of things I would not make time for.

I want to do or say the following things in the next year in regards to correcting some butthead socially accepted things. Yes, butthead needs to be used more.

1. Tell someone that they’re hat is on crooked.
2. Photo bomb a gym selfie.
3. Make a teenager yield the sidewalk to me.
4. Grow the worst beard to end all this facial hair nonsense once and for all.
5. Put a Calvin peeing cartoon over someone’s 26.2 sticker on their car.
6. Ask a 30 year old guy in a graphic t-shirt where his younger brother got that shirt.
7. Ask a female coworker for help changing the water cooler.
8. Tell a kid throwing a tantrum that God is watching.


What's the Point?! (Comedy Festival Edition)

I’ve decided to take a stab at writing my thoughts on my current comedy experiences. There’s often some thought on why comedians should do festivals…after all you typically drive far, book a hotel, get a 6-10 minute slot and no pay. Well for me, a self rep’d comic, festivals are more than just a credit.

Take LaughFest. I’ve heard it’s the biggest comedy festival in North America. I’ve done their Community Showcases the last three years. (That’s code for non-agency shows) Before I get too far into the ever so popular self deprecating, I should note that even for us under the radar comics, LaughFest treats us super well.

The staff and volunteers are probably the most prepared and willing to assist that I’ve seen in a comedy festival. Add to that, a city of say about 300k, that supports each and every night and show that is on the line up! As an insignificant athlete in my younger days, it sure is pretty cool to watch a bevy of foot traffic pass up a giant arena in downtown Grand Rapids to duck into a small bar or theater show instead.

Big picture time: What can I/anyone get out of a festival like LaughFest? First it’s worth noting like comedy clubs, we have tiers of festivals too. The best thing I get from a festival is understanding of where I am funny. We tend to start comedy with friends, then an open mic nearby, then a club in the closest city to us. In my eyes, a comedy festival forces me to get out of my geographic comfort zone and make sure everywhere I go, I know I can be funny.

Where’s my agent?! I’ve had the pipe dream that a festival could, would and should get me an agent. Maybe, as of now it hasn’t. However, I have been given an opportunity to network and meet new comics from other states who share booking info to their region. It’s just a bit of the ol’ comedy karma. The majority of the comedians I meet at festivals are realistic and humble about the current GPS point in their career. That being said, I do enjoy the hell out of the diva comic who’s under the radar who rolls out their own red carpet at these showcase events.

Pay to play? There’s a skeptical thought that comics shouldn’t have to pay to perform. This is an essay question most of us try to force as a fill in the blank. New York has the bringer shows, why is paying for a comedy fest any more or less offensive. Aside from the business operations that are often ignored by us comics, I get why there are fees to submit and fees to attend. These fees make me raise my expectations for my set, the audience and for my preparation.

Comedy festivals are just one of the packages we get to put ourselves in to get new audiences that in all honesty may not be so quick to come to our coffee shop shows. Sure there’s an investment on us in the front end but that’s nothing uncommon in this pursuit.


What’s the Point?! (Comedy Festival Edition)

I’ve decided to take a stab at writing my thoughts on my current comedy experiences. There’s often some thought on why comedians should do festivals…after all you typically drive far, book a hotel, get a 6-10 minute slot and no pay. Well for me, a self rep’d comic, festivals are more than just a credit.

Take LaughFest. I’ve heard it’s the biggest comedy festival in North America. I’ve done their Community Showcases the last three years. (That’s code for non-agency shows) Before I get too far into the ever so popular self deprecating, I should note that even for us under the radar comics, LaughFest treats us super well.

The staff and volunteers are probably the most prepared and willing to assist that I’ve seen in a comedy festival. Add to that, a city of say about 300k, that supports each and every night and show that is on the line up! As an insignificant athlete in my younger days, it sure is pretty cool to watch a bevy of foot traffic pass up a giant arena in downtown Grand Rapids to duck into a small bar or theater show instead.

Big picture time: What can I/anyone get out of a festival like LaughFest? First it’s worth noting like comedy clubs, we have tiers of festivals too. The best thing I get from a festival is understanding of where I am funny. We tend to start comedy with friends, then an open mic nearby, then a club in the closest city to us. In my eyes, a comedy festival forces me to get out of my geographic comfort zone and make sure everywhere I go, I know I can be funny.

Where’s my agent?! I’ve had the pipe dream that a festival could, would and should get me an agent. Maybe, as of now it hasn’t. However, I have been given an opportunity to network and meet new comics from other states who share booking info to their region. It’s just a bit of the ol’ comedy karma. The majority of the comedians I meet at festivals are realistic and humble about the current GPS point in their career. That being said, I do enjoy the hell out of the diva comic who’s under the radar who rolls out their own red carpet at these showcase events.

Pay to play? There’s a skeptical thought that comics shouldn’t have to pay to perform. This is an essay question most of us try to force as a fill in the blank. New York has the bringer shows, why is paying for a comedy fest any more or less offensive. Aside from the business operations that are often ignored by us comics, I get why there are fees to submit and fees to attend. These fees make me raise my expectations for my set, the audience and for my preparation.

Comedy festivals are just one of the packages we get to put ourselves in to get new audiences that in all honesty may not be so quick to come to our coffee shop shows. Sure there’s an investment on us in the front end but that’s nothing uncommon in this pursuit.