DAY ONE-HUNDRED-EIGHTY-SIX: Small Worlds and Funny Stories

greenI’ve been looking for places to stay and perform for the first couple of weeks of the trip. It’s been going well. Only three more days to arrange now and we’re all set for the first 25% of the Spokes and Jokes adventure.

Yesterday, I searched for housing for the first day of the trip, during which I will end up around Greene, Maine. I found a couple of churches there and the photo on one of the church’s websites showed a youth leader that looked a lot like a man I work with at the Kennebec Journal. I emailed him, making no mention that I thought we might work together, but making my request for lodging.

It was confirmed by a coworker that morning that the man who ministered at the church was a man who is among about thirty that works in the same office that I do.

Later in the afternoon, I got an email from him saying it would be fine if we stayed at his place.

I responded by saying, “You know what’s funny and what I’ve come to learn since I emailed you this morning? We are both in the same room right now. I work in the graphics department at the KJ.”

He responded that he thought he had heard my name before and that he thought it was “awesomely funny”.

It was. I’m enjoying all of these unique personal interactions as this trip comes together.

DAY ONE-HUNDRED-EIGHTY-THREE: CLAIM Speaking Engagement and Laptop Donation

CLAIMTom Obey of the Lighthouse Radio Network gave me the opportunity this morning to speak to the newly formed CLAIM, which is a support and encouragement group for Christian business leaders.

I shared a few jokes and my song parody of “Anyway”, by Martina McBride. Always a good time to take people’s expectation of encouraging spiritual talks with a goofy song partly about shoving a jalapeno pepper up your nose.

I had 50 minutes and used the rest of it to balance out the comedy by openly sharing what God has been doing in my life in the last few years in challenging me to not settle in relational, moral, spiritual, vocational or other ways. Apparently, it was very well received, and I had more than one person say it was refreshing to hear transparency behind a microphone.

That is confirmation for me. I think people are tired of disengaging speakers who feel it is their station in life to act as a public relations department for a Christian ideology. I take responsibility to the measure that I’ve played this game for decades of my own life.

My conviction now is that Christians need to exalt God in the stories they tell, not themselves. This is simpler to do, for who does not have the information and perspective to speak on such issues.

It is quite engaging, though, and my experience has confirmed that such honesty is a catalyst that encourages other to open up as well, letting light into their lives through confession.

Also, at the end of the meeting, I met a lady who offered for me to borrow her laptop on the trip. I will be able to use it to do any graphics work I have, to blog, to process video and to publish Funnies Extra from the road.

Also, I spoke to another lady who has two thousand pounds of contacts down the East Coast.

I do believe those will come in helpful. I’m looking forward to see the continuation of all of these developments.

DAY ONE-HUNDRED-EIGHTY-TWO: Worship Radio Interview

worshipfm_logoI had the opportunity to meet with the fellas from the Breakfast Show on Worship Radio this morning in Augusta. They graciously allowed me to talk about Spokes and Jokes and we also had some great off-air conversations.

After meeting with them, I taped an interview that will run on God’s Country on February 19, 2012.

The guys were supportive and commented on how cool this adventure seemed. It also appears that I got another gig from this meeting. One of the gentlemen from the show is a pastor and would like to get me into his church.

More good things a happnin’!

DAY ONE-HUNDRED-SEVENTY-EIGHT: Grace Evangelical College and Seminary

index~~element15Last night I enjoyed the opportunity to speak at a chapel service at Grace Evangelical College and Seminary in Bangor.

I have taken a couple of classes there during the last year, and they have helped me sort out my thinking about how to proceed into the next season of my life.

I did a little comedy at the beginning, but mostly it was an opportunity to share my testimony of learning how to determine God’s will for my life. I also explained how I came up with the idea for Spokes and Jokes and solicited prayers. When I was done, Dr. Smith placed his right hand on my left shoulder and prayed out loud for God’s blessing on this adventure.

Attendance was light, with only about a dozen people including me and Heather, but it was a nice exercise in speaking before a small crowd, which is actually much different and harder for me than a large crowd. It’s more intimate and can be, therefor, more intimidating.

This was a nice bit of practice for me in working out how to be entertaining, but also inspiring and encouraging at the same time.

Thank you to the people at Grace Evangelical who invited me to come and speak.

DAY ONE-HUNDRED-SEVENTY-TWO: Performing at the Tea Party

mY3YtAULast night I performed for a gathering of the Midcoast Tea Party. I suppose we need to a better job homeschooling our children, since when my son, Jordan, heard about the gig he reminded me that I don’t even like tea.

To his credit, he joined the conversation halfway through.

As one of the presenters during the evening commented, the people in the Tea Party weren’t nearly as scary as the media would have you believe. People were very kind and quite concerned about the direction this country is headed.

I tried to add what I could to their efforts by singing songs about throwing up beside the road and an obsession with egg foo yung.

I am very busy with gigs cropping up every few days or so. I’m very thankful for this. It’s helping me gain exposure and funding for the April 29 exodus on the Spokes and Jokes Tour.

Plus, I have already started booking places to stay and performances for the first two weeks of the actual trip. Thankfully, because of the generosity of others, I have people’s homes to stay in for almost half of the first two weeks so far, and it’s something I’ve only been trying to arrange for 4 days now.

I’m still looking for a place to stay around Greene, Maine, Southern NY and/or Northern Connecticut. Do you know anyone in those areas who won’t kill us in our sleep?

Thank you for your help.

DAY ONE-HUNDRED-FIFTY-NINE: Usually Laughter, Sometimes Threats of Violence

iron_mask_corrado_BI’ve normally enjoyed pleasing results when performing comedy. I’m thankful for that.

Even still, I get quite tense during the hours leading up to a show. Oftentimes, if there was some honorable away to flee from the responsibility, I would. However, I always try to remember how fun it usually is and that the normally the only bad part about it is my own negativity.

Normally.

There are those moments that justify fear. In fact, last winter, I performed at a Christmas party for a Bangor company. In the middle of the room were a bunch of men who I believe were affected by equal parts alcohol and testosterone. It become abundantly clear that  they were not “picking up what I was lying down”.

In fact, just 10-15 minutes into my 45-minute show, one man in the middle stared me down and, with a look of complete disdain, slowly moved his finger across his throat.

Talk about fight or flight. I wanted to leave immediately, and hopefully not find him in the parking lot. It gave me an idea what David must have felt like when he tried to play some tunes for Saul while Saul kept chucking spears at him.

Such occurrences are rare though, and I am happy to say that I have not yet been viciously murdered because of my comedy.

I predict a great crowd tonight at my second show at Camp Fair Haven. The first one was a blast. The place was packed tight with about 70 people and there was much laughter. And nobody threatened bodily harm, which was very much appreciated.

You’ll have a good time if you stop over to 81 West Fair Haven Lane tonight. The fun starts at 7:00pm with a funny song or two from Doug Nye, then I’ll share over an hour of my own weird observations including about 40 minutes of my own song parodies. There will be a roaring fireplace, refreshments and plenty of laughs.

I hope to see you there.

DAY ONE-HUNDRED-FIFTY-SEVEN: This Garden is Growing!

whcfThanks to the efforts of friend and Camp Fair Haven Director Tristan Starbird, I was on WHCF being interviewed about Spokes and Jokes. I was very pleased with how it went. Station manager Tom Obey and I spoke for 30-40 minutes and I wish to thank the kind people at the station for the opportunity and their support.

Here’s a list of some of the encouraging developments lately:

1. One of the on-air personalities informed me that Top 40 contemporary Christian singer Mark Schultz biked across America and performed music along the way at some point. It just so happens that we have a mutual friend. I contacted the friend (Doug Johnson) and he gave me Mr. Schultz’s personal email address and said he would call him and mention that I would be contacting him to pick his brain for any advice or suggestions.

2.  The same on-air personality (Penny Ayer) suggested offering me a weekly call-in spot while I’m on the tour to talk about the adventure. I was quite interested. Then, after the show was over, someone called the station and asked if they would offer something like that. This person did not even know she had already suggested it to me, which we took as confirmation that we should do it. I suggested that, if they are interested, I would be glad to come on each week prior to leaving, too, beginning whenever. It would give me a chance to increase exposure to the audience I’m trying to reach an an effort to book gigs, plus talk about how the trip is developing and declare any needs or prayer requests.

3. When I got home, I had an email from someone who booked me for a show on March 2 because they heard my spot on WHCF that morning. This was particularly significant for me since I had already been offered to share a show with some other comics on that day, but refused because some of the content from the other comics wasn’t going to be clean and I feel like I need to exercise better discretion in where and with whom I perform. My pastor had mentioned that sometime the public gets an impression of what someone is about by who they share company with, so I’m trying to consider that more. Certainly, I am not above hanging out with anyone. In fact, Jesus hung out with the worst of the worst, and I’m obviously no better than Him. However, simply from a marketing and branding standpoint, I think I need to be aware of such things. I do no want to be legalistic about it. Each situation needs to be evaluated on its own merits.

4. I got a call back from another pastor friend who teaches at a Calvary Chapel church in the Fairfield, Maine area. He booked a show from me for March. Things have gotten busy and I’m now pretty much booking two months ahead!

5. Another pastor friend is checking into having me at his church in Lincoln sometime in March, which will get me into another new area that I’ve never performed in.

6. My friend, Phil Dow, learned of my need to borrow a pickup truck and camper. He offered me his truck and is taking it upon himself to find me a camper. Man. I have awesome friends.

Those are just a few of the cool things that are happening with Spokes and Jokes, all the more cool because I had pronounced the death sentence on this adventure at the beginning of December.

My second show at Fair Haven Camps is this Saturday, January 26. I will be debuting three songs that have never been performed in public. There will be a blazing fireplace and snacks to eat along with local musician, Doug Nye as the opener.

Admission is free and donations are appreciated.

DAY ONE-HUNDRED-FORTY-NINE: Looking for a Camper

summerland2300We are getting deep into planning, and this endeavor requires much of it.

One of the most important needs we have is the use of a camper for all of May, June and the first half of July of 2013.

We would be pulling this camper behind a truck and living and cooking in it each day for the complete 10-11 week tour. It would find its way to Texas with us and back to Maine when the tour is complete.

Do you know any individual or business that might have such a camper that they would be pleased to loan us? Our budget for this trip does not make provision for such a purchase, but I’m hoping someone might have one available that we could use for the tour.

You might be pleased to know that we practice good hygiene and would make sure the unit was in at least as good condition when it’s returned as when we got it.

DAY ONE-HUNDRED-THIRTY-THREE: He’s (Not) Dead, Jim!

meLulJMThe reports of the death of Spokes and Jokes have been greatly exaggerated.

Heather just suggested a modified plan that has us leave in May and just do two months, still biking to Texas, but me manning up by biking about 60 miles per day instead of 30-40. This will allow us to reduce our food and lodging budgets.

So far, with modifications, the budget for this trip has dropped from just over $11,000 to just over $3,000.

That’s progress.

Here are the present hurdles we must address.

1. Finding a truck and camper we can take on the trip (donated, hopefully).

2 Getting the gigs. Kind of important. I don’t think it will be hard, but we need to get on it.

3. Finding a trustworthy person to house sit for us. We actually have a plan for this, but need to flesh it out.

4. Finding out how to raise just over $3,000 in 4 months.

I will be doing a lot of shows in the next few months in Maine. Why don’t you speak to someone at your church about having me? It costs you nothing. Just let me take an offering there for my performance.

Finally, thank you to those of you who have asked me how the trip planning is coming even through my absence of blogging. You are helping to keep my faith in this adventure alive!

DAY EIGHTY-ONE: Bob Goff Called Me Back!

You might have read this post from awhile ago in which I thanked Bob Goff for recording his episodes of whimsey in his own life and encouraging me to live a unique life unconstrained by perceived cultural expectations.

He posts his phone number in the back of the book, and is known to answer it or call back when you contact him.

I wanted to reach out to the man to thank him for his book and also to tell him about the Spokes and Jokes Tour.

Last Wednesday I tried him, but got his answering machine.

On Tuesday of this week, though, he called back and we spoke for about 5 minutes.

That was pretty cool. Strangely, I wasn’t nervous at all. It felt like I was just speaking to another person.

I was.