Five Comics Tell Their Best Stories from the Road


  • Costaki Economopolous, who will be performing in St. Louis on December 6.

Every comic worth his weight in salt (why is that a saying?) has some good and bad stories they picked up on "the road." If you plan on having any sort of career in comedy it is something you have to go through. I have my stories. The night Steven Wright walked into the club I was in to do a set. The failed show in a strip club in Clarksville, Tennessee. Let's just say comedy wasn't what those good old boys were looking for that night. Knowing the entertainment value these stories can bring to the table, I asked a few friends to recap an event from "the road" that sticks in their mind.

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Costaki Economopolous: Many moons ago I was working Halloween night at Harvey's in Portland Oregon. Several people in the audience were dressed in costumes, including two people in the front row in full clown face paint. I opened with this line:

I can't tell you how many times the other comic has come off stage and said to me, "Watch out for those two fucking clowns in the front row." And here you are.

In addition to entertaining countless fans as an internationally touring headliner, Costaki Economopolous is well known for his segments on the nationally syndicated radio show The Bob and Tom Show as well as Quick Snaps on Sirius XM. He will be making a December trip to the state of Missouri, with stops in Springfield, Columbia, and Brennan's in St. Louis on December 6th. He will also be doing a show in Arkansas, where he will probably be called a Mexican because of his Greek demeanor and features.

Daniel Chopin: In the Spring of 1994 I was working at Slapstix in Baltimore one week before attending my friend Nicole's wedding in Washington DC. I had lots of time to kill so I went to the local mall to buy her a wedding present. I decided on a nice mantle clock, a nice looking piece made of glass that only cost $65 and ran on two AA batteries. I didn't know that batteries were included in the purchase and I was not aware - as God is my judge - that they put batteries in the clock before they gift wrapped it for me.

The following week, my friend Nicole Boxer, daughter of Senator Barbara Boxer of California, married Tony Rodham, brother of Hilary Rodham Clinton, in the Rose Garden of the White House. That night, I met the President and his wife. I drank champagne and danced in the East Room and I had one of the most memorable evenings of my life. I must say I was totally star-struck and the whole night seemed kind of dreamy. It was awesome!

I didn't find out until later that Nicole and Tony never got that mantle clock and the Secret Service probably kept a very close eye on me the entire evening.

Because stupid, stupid me......walked into the White House with a box that was ticking.

Dan resides calls St. Louis his home when he's not "on the road" touring as a heavily sought-after headliner. He has started a show at the Dubliner on Washington Avenue and will be headlining that room December 21st and 22nd. I would like to point out that I'm not exactly sure what this has to do with "the road", but it's funny. Ryan Singer: In my early days of doing stand up, back when any gig seems like a great gig, I did a biker bar in Louisville, Kentucky. A woman so drunk she could not form even the simplest of words was heckling me relentlessly from a pool table on the side of the bar. I did what any comic would have done. I tried to make her wish she was never born. Little did I know that her boyfriend or lover or hell-sent demon bodyguard, a biker named Detroit was ready to defend her. After apologizing into the mic for the rest of my set, two of the scrawniest and hilliest fellas offered to "go get the shotgun out of the van, flip over a pool table, and start spraying some motherfuckers!" They weren't kidding, and they apparently had become fans of mine. I slinked out of the bar after barely getting paid and tried not to cry on the way home.

Ryan has since gone on to do great things in comedy and has embraced the road. He and Jarrod Harris will be coming to St. Louis in January on their recently announced Organic tour. All you really need to know about Ryan is that acclaimed comedian and WTF Podcast creator Marc Maron had this to say about him: "Ryan Singer is one of my favorite comics to watch. He is bizarrely creative and hilarious. The real deal." For the record, I agree on all accounts. Andi Smith: One of my favorite road stories though was the time I was working with Kevin Nealon in California. We had two shows on a Saturday night. I was watching Kevin's first set from a table in the back of the room when Kevin James and Adam Sandler came and sat down next to me. I didn't say anything. I just sort of sat there and pretended that famous people sit at my table all the time. They said hello. I gave a head nod. The show was still going on so saying nothing seemed helpfully appropriate. Before the show ended they were ushered into the green room. The club manager informed me that they were working on a new movie, Funny People, and were going to do sets on the next show.

"So I can leave?" I asked.

"No. We'll do Kevin James first, then Adam Sandler, then you, then Kevin Nealon."

"What? Fire me. I can't follow Adam Sandler. Why don't you just throw me to a pack of wolves?"

"You'll be fine," he assured me as he walked away without any concern for my impending nervous breakdown.

I paced and smoked fifteen cigarettes. Ya know, trying to look cool.

I begged the manager to fire me in one last ditch effort to avoid embarrassment.

"Send me home. You don't even have to pay me. I can sneak out the back."

I don't know if it was for my benefit, maybe the look of terror in my eyes prompted the re-order, but at the last minute they changed the lineup. It would be me, Kevin James, Adam Sandler, and then Kevin Nealon. The news was like finding out I'd been cured of a horrible disease. I did my set. It went well. It was pretty cool to walk off stage and have Adam Sandler say "That was awesome."

"I'm putting that on my resume" I said as I walked back to take my place at the table in back.

After they were done with their set they each came back and sat down in a very normal-we-don't-have-a-billion-dollars-way. They had a drink and made a little small talk which was nice considering I was doing my best to not say anything at all. Eyes straight ahead. Don't be weird.

Adam Sandler leaned over and said, "Hey, we're taking off to avoid the crowd. It was nice to meet you. Good luck."

"Good luck to you too." I said.

He looked at me with a face that clearly pointed out "I don't need luck" and walked away.

Andi must have done something right on stage that night, because along with appearances on Comedy Central and a strong showing on Last Comic Standing, she is the preferred opener of former SNL cast member Kevin Nealon. Andi and Kevin will be at the Westport Funnybone this weekend. More importantly then any credit, my wife, who's seen to many comedy shows to count, thinks Andi is really, really funny. That's something we agree on.


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