Friday, November 15, 2013

Ode to Maui Taco

Several years ago, when I was earning my wings (I think I have earned them, but the bigger set is coming in the mail), I inherited an open mic at a venue called Maui Taco. For almost two years I had been a regular at the Taco. It was close enough to where I lived plus I liked the hosts. However, the Tuesday mic was hosted by someone the comedians didn't like. The owner, Christine, asked me if I wanted to step up. I said sure. Hosting at the Taco seemed like a big deal at the time. It was the next step to making me legit.

The Taco was a taco joint owned by a Chinese lady named Christine. They served food that was subpar at best, but she worked hard. I always ate for free at the Taco, and ordered chips and dips that served to perhaps spike my insulin in a most unnatural way. Instead of a red light I had May. As news spread that I was hosting I attracted my regulars. However, being an open mic host is not all it is cracked up to be.

My mic barely worked half the time. Sometimes we went without. The stage was a safety hazard. It nearly broke under my feet once and nearly flipped on several male comedians. The ceiling leaked. I always did my best to try to boost the morale in this dream morgue. Truth be told, my comedians were always good sports about the whole thing. They wanted to laugh and work on material. Plus there is something special about giving someone their first time onstage, even if there is no heat in the place in the middle of winter. Or even if on a summer's eve their is no air conditioning and everyone is melting in the basement that probably has some fugus that could kill. Either way, it is a testament to the things young comedians do to earn their stripes.

The upside was sometimes tourists came and we got to perform for them. Sometimes they knew no English and could have cared less. Sometimes they were awesome and some even still follow me on facebook and have even purchased copies of I Came, I Saw, I Sang. The Taco was proof that while some places are dream killers, if you use it wisely the payoff is good.

As time went on the quality at the Taco diminished. Heat was sometimes on in the winter but more often than not. The ceiling was leaking to the point where that too was a safety hazard. The stage had almost killed a few people. The mics stopped working. Also, there was no communication between management and the hosts sometimes, and the mics were cancelled without me knowing. Around this time I became a part of a regular show at Stand Up NY and scored a promo job where the hours were brutal. As such as I loved the Taco I had to let it go. Shortly thereafter, the rest of the mics were cancelled.

About a year later the Taco had a severe electrical fire, and then a few months later closed. Yes, the place was depressing. Yes, the place was where jokes went to hang themselves, if the comedians didn't use the mic chord as a noose from the rafter first. Yes, the place made anyone with dreams want to abandon all hpe ye who entered.

However, it is part of what made me who I am not as a comedian but a woman. The Maui Taco taught me to work hard and ultimately inspired me to do what I love best as an artist, create my own work. It was also part of how I earned both my stripes and wings as a comedian. As I see some success and continue to grow, I always hold a place in my heart for that mildew infested tourist trap that sometimes made me doubt my choices in life. Sure, it was a mess and a trainwreck most of the time.

But The Maui Taco and the comedians who set foot on the safety hazard of a stage with the microphone that didn't work are part of my fabric, they are part of who I am.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

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