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

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Bozeman Montana

By Milt Abel | February 11, 2012

Bozeman, Montana

 

This was my first visit to Montana. I’ve performed in most of the 50 states; missing are Mississippi, Alabama, both Dakotas, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Vermont. So 43 out of 50, most of ‘em. For my birthday my wife and kids gave me two wall-mountable maps, one of the world, the other of the United States. My wife advised me to place them in my office and mark off with push-pins all the places I’ve been. Well, I know where I’ve been, so does my family, so it’s really for other people, strangers. Sort of a historical display for any casual passerby’s who find their way into my office. We have a big house, people could possibly get lost inside and wander their way to the back corner and into my small office. Possibly. Maybe I’ll give my wife a map of our house and she can mark off the places that need cleaning.

 

I was in Bozeman, Montana to be entertainment for a private event; The Belgrade Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner. Belgrade is a small municipality adjacent to Bozeman. It’s also a large city in Serbia, but that one doesn’t have a Bozeman near it, so I was pretty sure about exactly where I was supposed to be this past Friday night.

 

Though, I almost didn’t make it. The gig was set for Feb 10th, and Feb 9th I was in Jamaica finishing a cruise for Royal Caribbean. I should have insisted the cruise-line fly me directly to Bozeman, but they didn’t want to triangulate, so I flew home for a five-hour stay, before heading out for my first visit to the Big Sky state. I was connecting through Denver and as I arrived at the boarding gate I was informed the plane was oversold and  I might not get a seat.

 

Why in heaven and earth do airlines oversell their airplanes? Are seats being removed mid-flight, like a harrowing game of musical chairs, and when they arrive at the gate it’s discover they no longer have as many places for people to sit? Ridiculous!

 

I was livid there was even be a possibility I might not get a seat on the plane. I have been an elite status member of their frequent flyer program since 1986, had turned in 50,000 of those frequent flyer miles to be awarded this flight, and they were telling me I might not get on the plane! It’s not like there are three other comics of my stature sitting around in Bozeman to fill in for me, if I don’t show, the thousands of dollars spent (not all on me) are shot to hell because the event has an hour hole in the evening.

 

I explained this to the boarding agent at the gate and she showed no concern, shrugged her shoulders like she had attended The Joseph Stalin School of Independent Thinking, and looked over my shoulder to the next passenger she cold abandon. “You might still get on, sir.”

 

I spent the next fifteen minutes thinking about how I could reroute myself, looking up driving distances from the next nearest airports. I also spent that time framing a letter of complaint that would make them shudder with shame and self-contempt for their behavior. I wondered how rudely you could swear in a business letter and still be taken seriously: ‘fuckface’ would probably lose credibility, but ‘asshole’ would still have their collars clutched in my fists.  I also wondered how I could make it look like I had spit on the letter itself; maybe some photoshop manipulation and some legitimate moister  -though the only real saliva would be used on the enclosing envelope flap. I would have to mention in the text the reason for the blurred words and dappled paper. I was wondering how big a spot I would make when they called my name and ‘let’ me fly in the seat I had paid for, that we had already agreed on weeks ahead. (I’m writing this in a plane, the last segment of those flights to Bozeman and back, otherwise I think I would spit right now. The lady siting next to me reading a Churchill bio would probably misinterpret my actions, especially if I did it toward her.)

 

It turns out Denver airport closed due to bad weather about 45 minutes after I left the ground. So, I squeaked in under the wire.

 

The gig itself was quite nice. The city of Belgrade’s Chamber of Commerce actually held their dinner in Bozeman proper, but near Belgrade. I was asked not to mention that fact on stage after I had pointed it out at dinner before the show. Belgrade just didn’t have a proper venue for an event like ours.

 

They probably will soon. They were an industrious lot, those chamber members. Before I took the stage there was fifteen minutes of thank-you’s and applause for a long list of the various committees and committee members and it gave me an idea for my opening joke.

 

As I took the stage I said, “I’d like to form one more committee, I need a group of people to help me remove the snow and ice from my rental car after the show.” It got a laugh, but no one volunteered.

Topics: comedy, humor, travel | please add Comments »

Aging Magically

By Milt Abel | January 29, 2012

Aging Magically

 

“Getting older: Whenever I start talking to myself, I wonder if I’ve already heard it.”

I posted that on Facebook about a week ago. I like to post something funny or lightly distracting on a daily basis; but I can be distracted easier than I can be distracting, and some days get passed by. The posts’ quality goes up and down, but good ones make me feel like I’ve accomplished something, and when you’re a self-employed solo artist, accomplishments need to be recognized -even when you have to boot up the computer and scroll way down a page to see them. Little victories.

 

What interested me about this post was that it was misconstrued. The comments that followed were mostly on the theme of senility.  I had intended it to be synonymous with the situation of an old couple who had lived together so long that they’ve said it all to each other already; they had run out of conversation. Saying that I had run out of things to say to myself sounded too pre-suicidal, so I changed the wording to infer a mild wonder. (I haven’t run out of things to say to myself, by the way, it was just a funny thought -that I shared with myself, and it goes out to everybody else from there)

 

It’s interesting that wonder among the old construes the detriment of senility, while among the young it’s an atribute. We wonder at each end of our lives and its merit is based on timing. I wonder why? Maybe I’m old enough that I should know by now.

 

I’ve tried that Facebook post onstage a couple times to mixed success. Last night at a gig in Hood River I tied it focusing on my original intention. Here’s a recording of my attempt -but I’ll include the previous joke about Hiroshima too, because it’s such a good joke

Hiroshima and getting older

I still didn’t nail it, and there’s still room for ambivilence. I also threw in another Facebook post about age: “I’m getting older and getter ear hair – you know why we get it? It’s there to filter out the crap we’ve been listening to all our lives. A third joke, almost tossed off, mentions that I get so much nasal hair these days I’d have tusks if I didn’t mantain it. That tusks joke was considered as a Facebook post but I refrained because of the ‘ewe-yucky’ factor, but when you get onstage you can get caught up in the moment and vanity gets moved down the list of your priorities.

 

Something magical happened during the show last night at The Pines Tasting Room. About 10 or 15 minutes into my set three ladies walked out as a group; of an age that showed they were definitely post-college but not yet established in their lives; mothers or career gals or a combination thereof. They walked out, not in displeasure of the show, they just gave a vibe of wanting to go and do ‘more’ for the night, evenly paced and raising enough commotion very everyone in the small venue and audience ( probably 60 to 70 people) to notice. I commented when they left about the large picture windows that surrounded me and most of the corner location “If we painted over these windows people might not know there’s an outside to go to.” It got a bit of a laugh.

 

Twenty-minutes later three ladies walked into the showroom, all evenly paced and looking very much like the trio who had left earlier, only they were probably two decades older. It looked so much like those three girls had stepped out, established their lives, and stepped back in that we all started laughing. I had to explain to these three why everyone in the room was reacting so energetically to an apparent innocuous entrance. I joked a bit about worrying what might be out there to cause such rapid aging.

 

They stayed for a few minutes and then made to leave, again as a tight, evenly spaced group and I had to stop my show and warn them….

wheelchair

 

I had a lot of fun. I performed for over an hour and near the end I announced that it was time for the show to end, and that we all had to step outside and start aging. Here’s that announcement.

out the door and older

Those of us that stayed didn’t get any older for an hour. A little victory.

 

Topics: comedy | please add Comments »


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