The night crawled minute by minute to the end of my shift as I was waited for the next bartender to arrive. My friend from Green Bay waited with me, gingerly sipping his Captain and Coke at the end of the bar. Impatiently, we waited for the rest of our party to arrive, but after many phone calls and straight to voice mail responses, we decided to embark by ourselves for the show at ye olde Comedy Cafe.
My personal premise on comedy clubs is this: I’ve never been to one. Once I began discussing this with my customers, I discovered I was way out of step by not having the experience under my belt. To coincide with my goal to do something new every Friday night, I was more than ready to pop my comedy cherry.
We parked the car only a short distance away, hoping that neighbor didn’t need access to his whole driveway. Walking through the paved parking lot and up to the door I couldn’t help but notice a lot of really attractive people. Checking out the sun-kissed skin, fancy jeans, boots and addendum on all the ladies, I thought “they can’t be from Milwaukee.” I eavesdropped on others’ conversations as we were being ushered to our hostess. Yup, tourists know about this place. You would think that people who grew up in the city they live in would have harnessed their touristy locations. Not I.
After checking in and turning the corner, a breath hung in my chest. I was amazed by how large the room was. I immediately smelled that smoking was not permitted. Although I suck on my Camel Lights when alcohol is involved, I was refreshed by the smell of clean air.
We were seated against the far wall next to a giant mirror. The stage was only one step up from the crowd’s height and there was a colorful, hand-painted mural of famous comedians lining the backdrop. I recognized Lucille Ball, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen and several others. I allowed myself to sink into the stool and get comfortable. Enthusiasm and impatience filled the room.
The lights dimmed, people hushed one another, the waitresses continued their rounds and I eagerly stared at the man in the spotlight. I could probably do some quick Googling for the names that made my night sensational, but it wasn’t the names I walked away with. I couldn’t even remember half the jokes when I attempted to retell them to my friends. Yes, I’m that person who starts to laugh at herself before the punchline can even be delivered. The Long Islands may have also served as a partner in my forgetfulness.
The laughs rolled over the room like waves on a beach. I only found time to sip my heavy drink when I could catch my breath. It felt incredible to smile for such a long period of time. The muscles in my cheeks were convulsing; I can’t remember the last time that happened.
Before I knew it, the show was over: the quickest two hours of my week. We were done by 11, still early enough to get into trouble elsewhere, and this was a great way to send a group of people out into the taverns of Milwaukee. As my friend and I pursued the rest of our night, we didn’t reminisce about which jokes were our favorite. Instead, we talked about the usual nonsense, but the difference was prevailing laughs and abundant smiles.
Yes, Comedy Cafe. I will return.