It was a particularly rough day to start off December, I was feeling the hangover from a breakup, again. Consequently, I became unwilling to drive an hour and a half to PA to do a show where I opened for someone who was recording an album but brought no one to hear it. The audience consisted of maybe twenty people and I brought at least fifteen of them. It’s odd that the closer I get to home the less status I have, even when I bring the entire audience, none of my work seems to matter. At least I had a good set, and after I pulled myself together and mustered up the courage to drink with everyone I brought to the show. I stuck around even though they kept asking where my boyfriend was and laughing that I would never do better them him. I drove back to Baltimore slowly and slept for four hours to make my flight back to Tampa to get my car.
I arrived sleepless and starved, but relieved my car was in the lot I had left it in. I went to put air in the tires at a few different gas stations until I gave up and took it to a shop, I took a nap sitting upright in a fold-out chair somewhere in Tampa. I wasn’t ready for the ride to Miami to meet Megan Graves, the other comic that is accompanying me on another one of my make-shift tours.
I know what you’re thinking, and yes maybe I am always on tour. But the thing is I am generally pretty lonely and anyone that wants to come for the ride is always welcomed. I have learned after almost five years of being on the road that people will always say they’re coming, to the point where I don’t really believe anyone until they’re in the car. Megan has a successful Onlyfans account and can afford to live well on the road, whereas I am making PB&J’s and buying water by the jug. When she’s not around I am always staying somewhere or making my car comfortable enough to sleep in, with her I am on the top floor of some fancy hotel making fun of it but also thanking her butthole pictures. You can visit her only fans at @hollyfoxtrot .. it supports her and she loves it, might as well put it here.
The nice thing about our different lifestyles is that we can talk candidly about them. She likes it when I say that she’s Coachella and I’m Burning Man, I think this describes our personalities perfectly. She likes to say that between my suicide jokes and her butthole jokes we are covering all the bases. So before you ask, no I don’t have an OnlyFans account, not anything against anyone who does, I do enjoy living off the fruits of her butthole. This may come to you as a surprise but I’m a f****** prude.
Miami was marvelous, we went down for Art Basel because my friend in production said he could get us into a private Lizzo concert. He was unable to fulfill that promise, but I didn’t care at the time because I was so tired I just wanted another hour before going out all night. I tried to explain to Megan that I spent ages 17- 23 having frequent sometimes grungy, sometimes luxurious trips to Miami, and I used to be heavily connected in the underground dance scene. But I don’t think she really understood the gravity, especially since all my connections were long gone, it really hit me at that moment just how long it’s been.
Art Basel became Bit Basel and I was so inspired, NFT talk was everywhere, and I got to talk about the Meta universe as much as I wanted without anyone rolling their eyes. My favorite thing to do is talk about how dumb the name Meta Universe is, that’s just not what meta means.
I kept calling spots in Miami lift-off points, points where you literally stand and wait for someone to bring you somewhere cooler for free. It worked, we got into parties and eventually got taken into one of my favorite places, Club E11even. It is a magical place, I am not a huge fan of strip clubs or anything but this place is the best. You walk in, the floor is covered in money, there’s a guy eating a cheeseburger while getting a back massage from a hot girl wearing a nurse costume, and there are naked acrobats flying from pole to pole. Magical.
We got back to the hotel around noon the next day, and then came the time we’ve all been waiting for, to get the f*ck out of Florida. I made it as far as Daytona, let Megan get a hotel instead of insisting on going to a place in north Florida where I had a friend, and got drunk as piss by myself at a local dive bar; it felt so fitting for the last night in Florida. In the morning we headed four hours out of our way to visit my friend in Georgia, Christy Inhulsen. I met Christy in Bangkok and she was my best friend in Thailand when I lived there last year. Christy is a middle-aged woman who has been living a nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years, she’s a hilarious comic, and a true humanitarian. Just believe me when I say the world could use more of her.
Christy kept leaving the room to change outfits and personalities, it was very entertaining. Her friends that we stayed with were empowered older women I could only dream of being one day. Christy told me about how her life was going, how the women in Thailand she is helping are experiencing tragedy, and how she doesn’t know what her next step is in life. Then she told me this crazy story about how she turned her life into an interactive game and had her friends play. This story blew my mind because I have played one of Christy’s games before and she used to use these “games” to help students at Stanford University invent new solutions, so the one for her own life must have been intense.
The actual stand-up tour started in Wilmington, NC, at the bar where I used to live in their parking lot, The Barzzare. The show was small but I made enough to pay everyone else for it, and we had a great time, It was all I could ask for during December in an off-season town. A man kissed me outside and I made fun of him on stage, we don’t talk anymore. The night got blurry as I celebrated with friends. The most exciting part of the show was to see who was showing up from our online campaigns, it was astonishing how well it worked, I needed that hope. The night after we were in the same town doing an even smaller show, but Megan was glowing when someone said they came from seeing her on Twitter. Even though she had spent an irregular amount of time trying to convince me to do more on Twitter, it took seeing its rewards firsthand to give it a shot.
On our last night in Wilmington, I got a spot at the Dead Crow Comedy Club. I tried to make a cleaner set for the first showing and laughed when it was explained to me after that joking about my dead dog isn’t clean. But everyone seemed to love it and the second showing went even better because there were no content restrictions. The comics from Dead Crow wanted to hang out after so we sat around and swapped travel stories. My pandemic stories of being stuck in Thailand took over the conversation, I can see how it could be hard to imagine being in that situation, it made me miss it.
We left Wilmington to drive to a parking lot in Raliegh, NC. I was recommended to the booker by someone in Wilmington. I asked him about a week before if he had anything for us and he put this show on just to see us in action. Only six people showed up, but again everyone wanted to be there and I sold merch to make money so it was a success in my book because I didn’t lose anything. Is that a good measurement?
Ten hours of driving later and we made it to Tennessee, I was worn down. I had been trying to plan a Christmas party I throw each year, doing a show every night, and getting too excited to see people that I consequently party with too much. It came to be a cycle of me waking up and instead of going to hot yoga like I usually do, I did breathing exercises to get away from anxiety and then drinking hard seltzers like it was making me better. I needed a break but went in harder instead. It wasn’t great going from forty-five-minute slots to getting ten at best, but that’s just how it is. I got to do my last 45 minutes for the first Nashville show because I produced the show and it was pretty magical. I said sick stuff to a small bar full of people I knew from a past life when I used to live there. I got on stage, thanked them for coming, and then declared “all seats matter.” I was thrilled to fill them, I might have gotten carried away.
I took Megan to a few open mics after to show her around Nashville. This guy who is new to comedy, what we call “an open mic’er,” said some rape jokes that weren’t very good and then came to say Hi to me. Megan made it known she didn’t want to be around him but he kept trying, so she swung on him. I did a bad job calming everyone down so I hustled her back into a bar. I was glad we were leaving the next day for Kentucky, I just had a strong urge to get out of Nashville. Maybe it was Megan fighting open mic’ers, maybe it was the lingering of an old life, but it was probably all the booze with little sleep weighing on me.
The stress of Christmas started to get to me, every call or text I got about not being able to make it was weighing on me. The only thing that made me feel better was that I knocked out most of my shopping at the thrift stores in Kentucky, don’t ask me why but there were a lot of them. I saw my old friend Judy there and played at a local comedy club, all while trying to avoid making fun of their recent tornado. It was a good joke but I wanted to make a good impression and poking at a tragedy isn’t everyone’s favorite. I caught up with Judy and spread out my air mattress, woke up to a cold day and wanderlust. I love skipping town but I hate backtracking and we had to go back to Nashville.
Nashville started to feel like a waste, I did little time on shows and the people who went after me weren’t very good. They kept giving priority to men who have been in the scene for a while making friends, and it showed. Megan and I were both over it, we planned to leave Friday night but then Chad Riden offered us a slot on his recording for the NECAT channel. I think it stands for Nashville Education, Community, and Arts Television. Megan was apprehensive, she wanted to get out of Nashville badly and be ready for Baltimore. I told her she was free to leave but I wasn’t going to give up a local TV appearance to be well-rested for a Baltimore show at a Pizza shop.
Obviously, no one is going to see the local airing, but I pitched it like Dolly Parton could be watching. I mean after all, what else would she watch? The truth is no one will see it and it might get buried on Youtube, but I do know I was more comfortable in front of the camera than last time so I imagine it only gets easier. The recording was in a small building on the campus of a technical college, it was freezing rain and hard to find but I’m happy we did. When it was over I drove five hours towards Baltimore and Megan got a hotel, I woke up sick but tested negative for Covid. The show in Baltimore got canceled because the staff got sick and I struggled to drop Megan off in Baltimore and drive three hours to my parent’s house. When I finally made it I slept for two days, hot and sick, only leaving the house to get tested for Covid.
I wanted to sleep forever, but I had to throw Trishmas. Trishmas is a party I’ve been throwing since I was 18, in 2010. The year before (2009) my friends told me they didn’t want me to show up with gifts randomly, they needed a deadline, a Trishmas; so I didn’t come up with the name. The first time I threw it too many people showed up, I didn’t realize what would happen back then with a Facebook event. I had only been using it for two years at that time. It was called Mary Trishmas back then, this girl I used to know would help me throw it. I tried to make jello shots but made them too strong, so everyone I invited was passed out in their car because I had a megaphone and forced it on them. The party went out of control, at one point we were worried the floor was going to cave in and tried to make an announcement to stop jumping but everyone thought we were kidding and jumped more. It was out of control, but everyone left with a gift and it was magical, the main reason for the party is so everyone can get a present. I buy and hand out at least 30 every year, anyone who helps in any way gets a personal one.
The next few years after my first party I had it at my parent’s house, they loved it because it was like a once-a-year cleaning. They were such hoarders they didn’t notice I had a closest in the basement desiccated to Trishmas for five years. I loved it because the most fun part was the week before, all my friends would come over to decorate, we’d all just get high and cut out snowflakes. It made the holidays so special. One year the cops came and every girl in slutty Santa suit went outside to talk to them. One of my girlfriends came back in and said “don’t worry I got his number!”
My mom would be up in her room wrapping gifts every year I had it, and later on, I invented a gift wrapping station but before that addition, I would say if you need your gift wrapped go see my mom upstairs. She said she loved watching the twenty-something boys in her room trying to wrap gifts. My friend Judy (yes, the one from Kentucky) used to call me in September to ask if I was still having the party because that’s when she would get started with her extremely elaborate gingerbread house. I’m talkin’ gum as roof shingles, melted jolly rancher river, gumdrop ice skaters, it was incredible.
One year my brother was living abroad and as my present, he offered to buy a maid service, they told me at midnight and I got on a microphone and told everyone to trash the place. He never offered to help clean my parent’s place again. When my parents moved someone would call me each year offering to host it, I would say “are you sure, you know what it is right?” and they would always say,
“Yeah dude it’s a rager but you get a maid service, right?”
Every year I put Stefan Zimmerman in charge of music, and every year he would bail the day of and I would be tasked to find a DJ and equipment in under six hours, and somehow everything always worked out. This year Stefan missed his flight and the party, we called it a good omen.
The tenth year I had it in a warehouse near Baltimore, Maryland. It was crazier than the first year, almost 200 people came and every single person got a gift. Some people still take it really seriously to this day, and all those people showed up this year. There was a covid scare so the usual 100 that show up didn’t make it, it was about 30-40 people that have been coming for a decade, donate, bring gifts, food, and show in costume. I was truly touched to celebrate with people who take it seriously, making all my stress worth it.
When it was all over I just wanted to sleep, I wanted to be swaddled like a child and held. It felt like I had just given away every part of myself and I needed a moment to put myself together. Of course, Michael felt his spidey senses tingling and knew I would crack. He called me and I came over, he held me tightly and even though I was so mad at him I was grateful. Grateful for a moment of warmth on a cold winter’s day. I asked him to wrap me up in the blanket, “ like a burrito?” he asked playfully.
“Tighter,” I said, “like a taquito.” We giggled and made fun of each other, he let me catch up on all the shows we used to watch together and I’ll be the first to admit I am too vocal while watching TV. I treat everything like a Tyler Perry film and yell at the TV. Most people find it annoying and I don’t blame them, but Mike loves it. Picture us on a screen, fade out on us being happy on Christmas eve, and me yelling at myself on the screen, “don’t go back!” As I go back.
Christmas morning I drove to my uncles and gave out gifts, I was in awe of how pleased they were that I showed up this year. I drove that warm feeling three hours to my parent’s house, we watched movies and I listened to mom yell at the screen with a smirk. I spent the next few days standing still, and even though I think I spent the entire month running to this finish line, I was so ready to race again.