It was an unseasonably warm evening in March, the wind whipping through the city. We hardly ever go out on weeknights, but we were determined. In spite of crazy weeks prior, hectic work schedules and heavier stress than usual, we needed this.
Months prior, we bought tickets to see the show of one of our favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia. He had been one of the other comics touring with Dave Attell, Lewis Black, and the late Mitch Hedberg, at the historic Tower Theater, we had very much enjoyed his act. Having seen his specials on Comedy Central and heard his contributions to This American Life on NPR, we were so thrilled that his latest tour was coming through our little town.
We found the parking garage near the theater, the jubilant attendant who works there greeting us with an abundance of “sweetheart,” “honey pies” and various other pleasantries that wouldn’t be believable under normal circumstances. This woman is literally high on life. With the rebuilding and renewal in the city of Wilmington, this woman being the first person you encounter sets the tone for the night. Every time we come there, we feel better, renewed, and most of all assured that our decision to leave the house was indeed a correct one.
We’re right on time for our reservation at Chelsea Tavern, a great little restaurant across from the Grand, the historic opera house where tonight’s show will be. It’s a good thing I made one, because there are no other tables available. Thank you Open Table app! Several groups ahead of us are turned away before we are able to check in with the hostess. I can feel their collective stink eyes boring into me as we are seated and they are left to forage in the bar for stools to open.
They boast a very respectable beer list, I start with the oak aged arrogant bastard and my husband gets the local 16 Mile IPA, and the famous naked wings. They arrive piping hot and absolutely delicious, needing no sauce as they are perfectly seasoned. I dip into the Gorgonzola sauce anyway, because I’m a sucker for a good cheese sauce and am not disappointed.
We order our entrees, I choose the steak frites with fried tiny potatoes and Stoudt’s Scarlett Lady ESB. My husband opts for the pizza and another IPA. Everything is just perfect and we are really enjoying ourselves. We opt for Guinness and for dessert. A perfect dinner in our bellies, we cross the street to the venue, decked out in colored lights that change hue every few minutes.
In the lobby, I see what I think is the comic chatting with some customers/fans at the merchandise table. In spite of the three beers gurgling away in my belly, I’m still too shy to approach him. I overhear him asking the couple a question we get often from outsiders, “So, you live in Delaware, what’s that like?” I chuckle quietly to myself, because we have no real answer. I didn’t hear their answer, but I imagine it went something like, “well, our schools suck, but we don’t pay any sales tax. Also, the Vice President was our Senator.”
We got pretty good seats for the show, about ten rows back, aisle seats. The audience seems to be a cross section of NPR listeners and Comedy Central fans. The only people who seem out of place are the couple in front of us. A man with a shaved head of undeterminable age is seated in front of my husband, while his lady friend who resembles an emaciated and elderly Amy Sedaris is seated in front of me.
Normally, just about anyone fits into a comedy crowd, but these people were all over each other in a very weird and creepy way. It was almost like the guy had sprung her from the Alzheimer’s unit, slipped her some ecstasy and took her to a comedy show. Even the librarian looking mother and daughter seated next to them could do little to stop their make outs and juvenile wrestling. I kept waiting for her to tell them to simmer down, but she was off the clock and not saying a word.
As the show started, which was as hilarious as expected, the dude in front of my husband decided to sit like a cool guy, wrapping his arm around the back of his shaved head, essentially blocking my husband’s view. Just as he had had enough and readied himself to say something, the guy got up suddenly and left. He was gone a long time, almost a third of the set, before he came back. He didn’t stay long, whispering something to grandma, before they left together.
I’d rather not think about what he said or what filthiness transpired in the moments that followed. I imagine he probably needed to get her back to the unit before someone noticed she was gone, but wanted one more dry hump before then. Meanwhile, Mike is on stage killing it, in spite of the crappy job the spotlight guy is doing. The show is awesome, the night was epic and as expected in a small state like ours, we ran into Baldy and Grandma lighting up a post-coital cigarette in their car on our way back.