Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mr. Thursday Evening

About a month ago I Tweeted this;

@gaberutledge "$200 to do an hour of comedy at a senior center while they eat dinner? Sure I can do that." Thing I said today that I will regret

Well it happened. The show and the regret. I just performed comedy at the Silver Creek Assisted Living Facility in Woodburn Oregon. I'll pause to let the horrificness of that wash over you like the aggressive sponge of a disgruntled nurse bathing one of the residents I had to entertain. I kept telling myself on the drive that it wasn't going to be as bad as I thought. It would be like doing comedy for the Golden Girls, that sounds fun right? I tried to make a set list of as clean as possible jokes, and told myself I'd just do a lot of crowd work. That was my plan until I arrived and saw this.

Ho-ly Shit. What possible crowd work was I going to do?

" long have you been a widow?"

"Enemas are weird huh?"

"I bet you never thought you'd live long enough to see a negro as president!"

When I got there the lady in charge said "So, do you do shows at a lot of assisted living facilities?"
Yeah that's kinda my niche. I've got another gig tonight actually. After I'm done here I'm headed over to the Scattered Ashes Senior Center to emcee a shuffleboard tournament. No! I don't do comedy shows at a lot of assisted living facilities! No one does, because it's a really bad idea! Does this look like an environment where a comedy show should ever happen?
  Maybe if you're Billy Crystal in "Mr Saturday Night." But I am not Billy Crystal, and this was Thursday at 6pm, cause that's how people with Alzheimer's like to party. After the show I was told about half of the audience had Alzheimer's. I could have used that information before the show so when I hit the 30 minute mark and had nothing left I could have repeated a couple of jokes. There was a bunch of staff in the room. So while on stage(floor really) I could hear the staff helping the residents get food from the buffet table they put out. It's a little distracting to be performing while you hear from the back of the room

"Bill do you like olives? You do? Ok do you want black olives or green olives? Do you want juice? You do? Orange or apple?"

There was also some visiting family, which was good and bad. Good because there were a few more coherent people there, bad because a 5 year old girl jumped up and down and ran around in front of me the entire show. It was like bad vaudeville. A couple of jokes then a dancing girl. And neither one of us was doing that well. When the show started I was introduced by a very nervous staff member as;

"Our entertainer this evening Gabriel Rut..Rutleg, has been on The Comedy Channel he is."

Within 2 minutes of starting a lady in the front row fell asleep. Apparently she found my comedy very soothing because she was fucking out. For a second I thought maybe she died and for the first time on stage I had literally killed someone, but she moved a little. There was also a woman with a sort of grimace on her face who shook her head from side to side the entire time. I stopped taking it personally when I realized that's just always the face she makes. The fact that she hated me was purely coincidence. The only people laughing were the staff and the visitors, and a lot of that was out of pity. They work in a nursing home they're used to watching people die. I only had one resident who was responsive and she was howling at everything I said. At least until about the 20 minute mark when she too, fell sound asleep and began snoring incredibly loud. It was like cartoon snoring it was ridiculous. By the time the show was over at least 4 people were asleep. At one point a guy in a walker got up and started walking toward me until a staff member intervened and guided him toward the back of the room. It was like he was charging the stage in slow motion. I think I was 6 minutes from receiving a very gentle ass whooping. A guy in a Little Rascal scooter had also had enough and he made a break for it too. I've walked people before at a show, but I've never rolled a guy. There was just this awful low hum of the scooter motor as this elderly obese man maneuvered his scooter around and finally exited at 1/4 of a mile per hour. All I could think was "take me with you." Or at least take the 5 year old Ritalin monkey hopping on a chair 2 feet from me. I was scheduled to do 45-60 minutes
"or even more if you're having fun." I made it to 41. I don't think I was having fun, but I was having an out of body experience so it was hard to tell. I actually didn't do that bad considering the circumstances. I gave the employees some laughs and probably did the cleanest show I have ever done. I couldn't tell if the residents liked me or not. They didn't heckle, unless you count snoring, coughing, and wheezing. I should have asked them to add me on Facebook so I could let them know the next time I performed there again. I looked online and Silver Creek actually has locations all over the country. Maybe assisted living facilities should be my new niche. It was certainly a unique experience. Mostly uniquely bad, but I look at it this way; A lot of comedians can say they've done a show that the audience will never forget, but I can say I've done a show that the audience will never remember. That's got to be worth something. $200 I guess.


sharon lacey said...

Love your writing, Gabriel -- and I stayed awake through the entire piece! Keep 'em coming!

gabriel rutledge said...

Thanks Sharon I appreciate it.