Over the last few years it has become apparent that there is something missing in the Houston Comedy Scene;
I believe it’s a central location where we all feel comfortable to go, hangout, and just be ourselves. Most of the veterans of the previous scene knew of two places, the Green Room at the Comedy Showcase and the back room of the Laff Stop. These places were important because it was where we would all meet up after coming off the road. It was “home” to us, we could come in and just be us, comics. Everyone back then knew their place, from the open micers to the veterans and things for the most part ran smoothly. Sure there we times when ego’s took over, yet it didn’t really last long, and soon enough someone was buying someone a drink and everything went back to normal. If there was a problem between comics it was “talked” out, not “typed” out under the guise of a “rant” for all to see. It wasn’t done out of malice just to either call someone out or teach a lesson, it was done to figure out the problem and correct it.
I believe that if you truly want the Houston Comedy Scene burn strong again from the ember that is still there, then a central location must be found. Even if someone with very deep pockets comes in and puts a club back in the loop, it will not be what was. Politics and ego’s will reign supreme there as well because it will be another Corporate. What we need to find is a bar, a simple throw down bar somewhere in the loop, possibly on W. Grey, one that we can all go to. It doesn’t even have to have a stage for now, we don’t have to perform in it, we need to go and use it to “heal” and to begin a new chapter in the “scene”. We need to all get together and start talking to each other not AT each other.
Veterans we have responsibility to continue what was, a strong united scene. No, it will not completely be as it was, nothing ever is, yet we can work together with the new comics coming in to make it as strong as it was.
What I am seeing now, is a high school gym, with the seniors sitting on one side and the freshman sitting on the other, the boys on one side and the girls on the the other. Some of you younger comics have only been adults a few years and there is much to learn. Listen when the veterans speak, ask questions, learn about the masters of this art, and although a great comic, learn past Louis CK. Television has been around less than 60 years, trust me I know. There were comedians long before television. The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, just to name a few. Standup as we know it really did not start until the late 50’s and then came Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Phyllis Diller, Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Joey Biship, Bill Cosby and so many more. Every Sunday night you would see great standup on the Ed Sullivan Show. He and Johnny Carson showcased so many young up and coming comedians and made their careers. A new era of comedy came from these shows. A & E’s Comedy on the Road, Comedy Central, BET’s Comic View, Def Comedy Jam, showcased many more.
In the 80’s Houston became the mecca of comedy for many, Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison, Andy Huggins, Jimmy Pineapple, Thea Vidale, Brett Butler, Danny Martinez, Jim Patterson, Carl Faulkenberry, Don Learned, Jack Mayberry, Al D Freeman, Tom Webb, etc. I came into this strong scene in 1990, it was still a viable scene, and it meant something to be a Houston Comic. We all worked together to make it work and to get work.
Veterans, we have a responsibility to help these young ones find their way, and their voices, just like someone helped us. To teach them, not preach to them, the way to get to the top of the mountain, to be a headliner. The steps necessary to become a great comic. Teach them just because you have no TV, doesn’t mean you are not a great comic, I know and have known so many with not one TV credit. I also know some who have credits couldn’t follow these acts with a map and a flashlight. We need to teach them that there is more than just having the “time” that makes you a headliner. I would be willing to bet not one of you youngbloods know anything about the dreaded “check drop”.
I will stop here, there is more I could write, yet I think you have the point let’s find that bar, find that central place where we can all go, a place that is neutral territory where networking, talking, laughing and just being us is welcomed. Let’s get off of facebook, let’s once again look at each other in the face. Like I said it could be any bar, oh cheap drinks is a big plus, and the name of this bar can be anything, it doesn’t matter, because when we contact each other, either by phone, text or f acebook, it would read “Hey I’ll be in The Green Room, see you there”.
See you on the road.
With over 20 years of experience Caroline Picard, The Cajun Queen is a national touring headliner, who has performed for the troops and has won multiple awards. She has been sworn by and sworn at. She takes no prisoners. And as the saying goes, “You’re not somebody in the Houston Comedy community unless you’ve been cursed out by the Cajun Queen at least once.”