Hosting is work, y’all. Not actual physical labor but it can come close; there’s been more than one event where I was running around like a madman making sure shit was in place. In my case, you can include mental labor into the equation as what may seem like a random call of names from a sheet is actually me trying to mix together the style and aesthetic of the readers that I do now with the unexpected surprise of the next reader that I don’t know all in the hopes that the night has enough highs and lows, softs and roughs to keep it a roller coaster ride.
I can tell you that I have come to a couple of reading feeling like utter shit. I had to make the final decision about closing the business about an hour before an Acentos show and had one of the best Tuesdays ever. Inside, I was a total mess but as far as anybody else knew, I was just your typical gregarious, amiable host. On the flip side, I have walked into the Ox swearing that it was going to be an amazing evening of poetry, feeling confident and determined only to see my hosting go flat and struggle to keep the energy of the Open Mic up. That’s why its work, cuz whether I am hyped or depressed, I still go in and try to get the job done.
Last night did not feel like work, it felt like if somebody had just handed me the reigns at the last minute and said, “Go at it!” I came into the Ox with an even temperament, having had a productive day at my 9to5 and no extra personal drama following me in. The start was rough, there was a group of (I guess) regulars who tried to give the poetry a shot but instead decided that there own voices were more important. These mofos talked up a storm while I was doing the opening monologue. I always claim this doesn’t bother me but it actually does. It’s a give and take thing where I would just love if everybody stayed silent throughout all the announcements and such but people have to talk some time and better they do it while I am up there than the poet. So we have a rocky start and I am thinking its going to be one of those nights where I feel like I am doing a crappy job but everybody else thinks shit went well and then, damn if I know when, there was a shift and I just started flying up there, saying dumb shit to get laughs, good intros, nice outros, keeping the attention on the mic and cursing, lots and lots of cursing. My early hosting revolved around saying ‘muhfuckah’ about 5 times every time I went to intro someone. It was a nervous tick. Some stick their hands in their pockets, others clutch on the mic stand as if it were a life preserver, a few do one of their own poems again to recalibrate. I curse. Not as innocuous as the mic grabbing but not as egotistical as the impromptu feature status, tu sabes?
Last night I got into such a roll that the cursing came back up and I loved it. There is no substitute for ‘clap, mufuckahs’ not for me, anyhow.
The Open Mic had 14 folks on it- 3 newbies, 2 occasional visitors, 2 semi-regulars and then 7 of the usual suspects. This ratio is an improvement over what we’ve been doing lately – heavy on the usual suspects – but I would love to see more newbies sign up but for the post.anniversary show this was a damn fine turn out.
Proletariat Bronze was the real deal. Jaylee, Jayson, and Mesej1 remind me of an old school crew from the dizzay. You could call em a gang based on the fact that if you fuck with one of them, you gonna hear it from all of them but I guess it would be better stated that they are brothers of choice. Their set was just as much fun as the rest of the night with the fellas goin up there and doin what the energy of the moment dictated.
So where’s the food, mufuckah? Good question, this time around we went low.tech and headed to White Castle to tax our digestive systems and get a lil ghetto with Proletariat since they are the kind of crew you could bring to a five star restaurant, a chill lounge, a coffeehouse or, yep, White Castle. Fun times.
Year three is off to a sweet start where it feels like all this isn’t work at all.