Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.

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Mesquite and Laughlin

By Milt Abel | October 24, 2011

| October 24, 2011

Mesquite and Laughlin, Nevada

I received a last-minute call to replace a comic who did what I often do; cancel booked worked because more lucrative ship was offered. I guess karma does works, even when it needs a phone call and a cheap hotel to balance the ledger.

The cheap hotel was the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite, Nevada. It’s only now, two days later, that I realize what was so unnerving about my hotel room. It had no bed coverings, just sheets and blankets, no artwork whatsoever on the walls, and was supplied with the bare minimum of personal hygiene products; one paper-wrapped mini-bar of soap and one (1/3) roll of toilet paper. It was what I envision a minimum security prison cell might look like (if my hedge fund scheme gets exposed, I’ll be able to confirm). I was capable of leaving, but things would just get worse if I did.

Adding a Kafka-esque touch was the radio-alarm clock. The small black box displayed the incorrect time, and when I picked it up to set it I noticed all the print had come off the six buttons across the top as well as on the two sliding bars used to change modes and functions. It was a puzzle that could take all the time I hoped to nap -and use the alarm for. How many compulsive gamblers had used that alarm before me to wear off every bit of print on the adjustments? We feel we are not time’s prisoners when we can at least compartmentalize it. Incorrect, and without a recourse to correct it…? That’s unjustified imprisonment. If I was still in that room today I’d probably smuggle a spoon out of the 6.99 breakfast buffet and use it to scratch the days in hash marks on the barren walls.

I asked at the front desk if there was a gym or exercise room. “No.” Then asked if there was a jogging or hiking path anywhere in the rolling dessert foothills that surrounding the casino on several sides. “No.” Then I asked if there was anywhere in town where I could go for a walk and get some exercise. “Yeah, there’s a walk along the river, that goes for, I don’t know how long. You just drive downtown and the path starts right in between the Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Arby’s.” A health mecca Mesquite is not.

Nor is Laughlin, Nevada. If Las Vegas is called Sin City, Laughlin, not being as committed in its hedonism, could be called Bad Habit City. The amount of overweight people waddling through the casinos, wearing tee-shirts that advertise a better time somewhere else with someone else, is depressing. Like litter blown about, the white trash gathers in eddies against slot machines, tethering themselves with curled cords attached from their clothing to their gambling club discount cards inserted into the machines: each suckling from the other.

The audiences turned out to be pleasant enough. A friendly young man from the Saturday night show, sitting at a front a table with his fiance (we discussed this in front of everyone) bought me a drink on stage. Something that hasn’t in a long time, probably because of all my cruise work. Older, staid crowds and all that; I’d be more likely offered a comforter  or good book.

I nursed the drink through my set, and typical of comedy club audiences, I started getting ribbed about not chugging it. So with just a few minutes left in my set  I threw my head back and downed the bourbon and coke. Knowing every eye was on me I felt some physical joke was appropriate, so I used the cascading ice inside the cup to pretend like something was inside it. A gift. I mimed gagging slightly, then pulling something out of my mouth.

“A ring!” I announced. I looked at his fiance at said, “It looks like your out of the picture.”

I thought it was funnier than the audience’s reaction, but maybe that was the bourbon and coke doing the thinking.

Topics: comedy, humor, travel | No Comments »

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