A Comedy (or a Greek Tragedy) Tonight

There have been two times in my life I have been so grateful to see the ground that I’ve kissed it: Once was in New Mexico one summer after the round-trip ski lift ride Richard and I took for “fun” delivered us safely back to the bottom of the mountain; the other time was arriving home last Friday night after seeing Paul Reiser at Zanies in Rosemont.

The reasons I was so happy to see the ground after the ride on the ski lift were because a) I’m afraid of heights b) I was pregnant and wanted to enjoy the only five days out of my entire pregnancy that I wasn’t “reviewing my lunch”, as my obstetrician delicately referred to barfing, and c) a sudden thunderstorm approached resulting in a hasty ride back down as we clutched the benches of death dangling hundreds of feet above the mountain in an attempt to return before lightning had a chance to strike.

The reason I was so happy to arrive home Friday night was because Veronica and I  got so lost in Rosemont looking for Zanies after dinner at Harry Caray’s that instead of working together to find it, we turned on each other like hungry jackals on a National Geographic special. Our attempt to have a special mother/daughter evening of comedy became a comedy of errors.

The plan we agreed upon was to head to Rosemont to have dinner at Harry Caray’s and then enjoy the comedy stylings of “Mad About You” star Paul Reiser at Zanies Comedy Club.

Because we arrived at the restaurant one-half-hour early, Veronica tried to talk me into going to Rivers Casino before dinner. I told her that dinner and a show were enough for me for the evening and I didn’t want to take the chance of being late for our dinner reservation. Plus, I was so out of my geographical comfort zone I didn’t want to end up lost on my way to the casino or back to Harry Caray’s.

Boy, can that kid be persistent. She can talk at me incessantly until my brain gets so confuffled that it’s easier to give in than argue. I finally acquiesced at which point she commandeered my GPS and plugged in the address of the casino. I began to follow the route until I realized just how far away it was from our destination.

After driving a few miles toward the casino I decided to stick to the original plan and informed Veronica that I was going to turn around and head back to Harry Caray’s. That’s when things became a tad uncomfortable between us.

Veronica told me I was no fun. I told her she was being difficult. She told me I was being lazy and that we had plenty of time to go the casino, go to dinner, and get to the show on time. I might have said something about her acting bitchy. She told me I hurt her feelings. That was the first time during our special bonding evening I almost decided to just go home.



But, we managed to calm down and enjoy a lovely dinner, followed by a photo shoot with the nose on the bronze bust of Harry Caray.

I am not good with directions.* Luckily, Veronica has Richard’s keen ability to know where she is and how to get from point A to point B. The problem was that we became so upset with each other (again) that she refused to help me figure out how to get to the show. If I were her I would have helped me because who wants to be stuck in a car with her panic-attack-ridden mother any longer than necessary while circling like an airplane arriving from Yemen waiting for clearance to land?Even though I confirmed my printed Google Maps route from Harry Caray’s to Zanies with the restaurant manager, who referenced a McDonald’s on a some corner or another,  I missed the turn and saw that not only were we not in Kansas anymore, we weren’t even in Rosemont anymore.

Veronica loses patience with me on a daily basis. I forget things. I repeat myself. I repeat myself. And, I’m her mother. I didn’t blame her for getting frustrated with me, but instead of helping she ignored me. At that point it’s possible I mumbled something like “This idea was a horrible mistake,” which she ignored. That was the second time that evening I almost went home, but I couldn’t even tell you how I’d get there.

As airplanes descended to O’Hare immediately overhead causing us to feel the need to physically duck while in the car, I pulled into a parking lot to locate Zanies on my GPS. Apparently my GPS was having PMS. After plugging in the address for Zanies in Rosemont my GPS informed me that it couldn’t find the location. I turned around and began to retrace my route. I passed a McDonald’s on some corner or another, so I was slightly encouraged. But I didn’t see a sign for Zanies anywhere along the way.

I pulled into another parking lot and tried finding directions on my iPhone. No luck there, either. While I thought she was still completely ignoring me and not giving a tiny rat’s ass about the fact that we were hopelessly lost, Veronica called Zanies and asked for directions. For a minute after she hung up I didn’t think she’d share the information she had just learned with me. She did, but we still saw no signs for Zanies. We saw the same McDonald’s again, though.

Eventually we saw a sign for “The Entertainment District” of Rosemont, but there was no sign listing the entertainment it districted. The bright, colorful lights of “The District” beckoned me like the Sirens in The Odyssey, plus, they were really shiny.

Because I had no other idea of where to go, I drove toward the pretty lights and came upon a policeman directing traffic. I asked him if he could direct us to Zanies. Maybe it was my quivering chin and water-welled eyes, or the venomous look on Veronica’s face, but he knowingly nodded and said, “Don’t worry, Hon. No one can find it. I’ll get you there.”

The nice policeman told me to make a u-turn, which I didn’t want to do because there were police there for heaven’s sake. But he had told me to do it, so I did. He said to stop when I reached him again. I did. He told me to drive up the ramp ahead of me to the parking garage for “The District”, park in the garage, take the elevator down to the ground floor and Zanies would be there. He said it was behind all of the other buildings and not visible from the front. I thanked him profusely, and possibly even blew him a kiss.

We did what the nice policeman told us to do. After parking in what seemed like another zip code altogether, we took the elevator down to the ground floor thinking we’d be at the entrance to Zanies. No, we were in the parking lot vestibule. We had to go outside, walk around an outdoor ice rink, cross the street, and, as if a mirage, we finally found Zanies.

I ask you, “How are people supposed to find a place that is hidden behind other buildings with no signs leading you there?” Dave J. from Wheeling wrote the following review on www.yelp.com: ”Before I review Zanies itself, allow me to comment on the parking situation and the layout of the Entertainment District. I can sum it up in three words: PUT UP SIGNS! The signage in the garage and in the Entertainment District is TERRIBLE. You have to have your head on a swivel when you’re walking through the poorly laid out traffic garage (even one of the comedians at Zanies commented that the garage was like an episode of “Survivor”). People are in a hurry to find parking spaces, the lanes marking where the traffic aisles are located are not clearly delineated, and signs directing you to stairways, elevators (which I couldn’t find at all, btw), and the restaurants and other facilities in the complex are virtually non-existent. While you’re looking for signs directing you where to go, you could get hit by a car driven by someone looking for signs directing him where to go.” Exactly my point, Dave J. from Wheeling.

Because we arrived so late, we were seated in a booth big enough for a party of eight because that was all that was still available. Nice. By that time Veronica’s eyes looked vacant. I even kindly offered to take her home. But then our waitress appeared and said to her, “you look like you need a drink.” Since there was a two drink minimum, Veronica ordered a “Kathy Griffin” (RumChata and chocolate liqueur) and a “Gallagher” (Watermelon and berry liqueurs, lemon juice and vodka) at the same time. I ordered two Cokes.

A man named Scott was seated with us right before the show began. We introduced ourselves to each other and it turned out he was friends with Paul Reiser and was going to film the show Saturday night. I dropped Bitter Jester Creative’s name to see if he knew Nicolas DeGrazia and Daniel Kullman and he said he did. I felt so grateful and so connected to the comedy/film-making scene at that moment. It made me feel as if our entire escapade had been worth it. Almost.

Thanks to Nicolas DeGrazia, Daniel Kullman, The Comic Thread, and Chicago Comedy Sketchfest 2013, I had enjoyed two weekends in a row of laughing myself silly. I relished the idea of being entertained a third consecutive weekend by witty, laugh-out-loud comedy. Even though getting to Zanies and getting back home proved to be an adventure in recurring scenery, it was well worth the aggravation.

Paul Reiser was hilarious, not because he tried to be, but because he talked about things the audience could relate to such as the way the word “really”,with its accompanying head-bob, has become a question we use in our everyday vernacular, replacing volumes of other words in the English language. Next time you say, “Really?” to someone who insults you, cuts you off in traffic, or just all-around generally irks you, pay careful attention to your head. It will be bobbing.

He spoke about going to the doctor for a physical and hearing that if he lost 5-10 pounds his weight would be “ideal”. He told the doctor that he didn’t need to be “ideal”; that he was okay with his weight where it was.

He talked about how Jews are brought up to be “nice”. People say things like, “He’s a nice Jewish boy,” whereas Christians are brought up to be “good”. He said, “She’s a good Christian woman, but that doesn’t mean she’s nice.”

He remarked that the stage was so small he felt like he was the only guy in a police line-up, and described himself as a “delightful” husband. He talked about how you can be having a perfectly wonderful day with your spouse, and then around lunchtime one of you says something harmless that ends up upsetting the other, and then the day is ruined. So true. So funny.

I had a stomach ache; I was sweating, and crying from laughing. I laughed so much I was exhausted by the time he finished his set. His opening act and the host were crack-ups, too.

After Paul left the stage, Veronica and I serpentined through the crowd, ran out the door, crossed the street, ran around the ice rink and found an elevator vestibule. We found the car, cranked the heat and put the GPS setting on “home”.

Only I got lost on the way home, too; not because I didn’t follow the GPS, but because the exit from “The District” was in the far left lane and the exit to the tollway was an immediate turn from the right lane. As much as I wanted to get home, it wasn’t worth risking our lives.

It took a few “recalculatings” from my GPS, but eventually I was on the tollway (heading in the right direction!) and in familiar territory. I vowed that if we saw the McDonald’s on that corner one more time I was going to get us a room at the nearest hotel and return home the next morning during the light of day.

Even though I’ve been craving live comedy, after three weekends in a row of being spoiled by it, I was very happy to watch SNL last night and listen to my dad’s jokes over brunch this morning.

*Please click and read “Mission (Almost) Impossible”, the true story of how I ended up in a restricted area of O’Hare airport and was escorted out by police when attempting to pick Veronica up from the airport. http://talesofwildboomba.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/mission-almost-impossible/

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