Gag Reflex Goes to Washington

My comedy troupe’s whirlwind trip to Washington D.C. for the “D.C. Comedy Fest” is over and what a 24-hours it was!

Saturday morning started with a 60 minute wind trainer workout from 6am-7am. Yep, I’m a little obsessed and just needed to get some sort of workout in knowing that I’d be on a plane for the rest of the day. Nothing major, just some spinning time in my saddle.

Our Continental Flight was supposed to leave Austin at 9:10am. They get us on the plane, fire up the engines and announce that they have a mechanical issue that they’re working through. It will be about 10-15 minutes. Not long after, the captain comes back on the PA and announces that there is now a major hydraulic problem and they are cancelling the flight. We had to deplane. Great…Our layover in from Houston to Baltimore was already a short one. We were originally to arrive in Baltimore around 3pm with plenty of time to get the car, check in at the hotel and still make it to the theater for our 8:30pm performance. After an 1 1/2 of waiting in line, Our Hero and Gag Director Dale gets us booked on a Delta flight leaving Austin at 1:30 and arriving in Baltimore at 7pm. He called the comedy festival and they switched us to a later time slot. Great. no worries…yeah, right.

We finally board Delta and they announce that we have to sit on the tarmack for a while so we’re going to be leaving 20-30 minutes late. grrrr….Then, our castmate Clay decides to be an asshole to one of the flight attendants. Basically, she was kinda bitchy and abrupt to him and he snapped back and was a jerk to her. This takes more time, why? Because we had to taxi back to the gate so that Air Marshals and several police could escort Clay off the plane. No freaking joke. Now, we’re down a cast member and we’re late AGAIN! More phone calls to the theater and now role changes. I’m now taking Clay’s part in one of the sketches. Thank God Dale had the script so that I could start memorizing. The show must go on, right?

We land in Atlanta and we’re told to stay on the plane as it was making a quick stop and then proceeding to Baltimore. Well, OF COURSE, as soon as we get to Atlanta, they tell us that they’ve cancelled the leg to Baltimore and the next flight was taking off in 10 minutes. We were going to miss it. By this point, we’re hungry, frustrated, slap-happy and down-right tired. I also swore that I would never fly again. And the irony of it all?? Clay had called Dale while we were in flight and he was actually arriving in DC before we were!!! And this was the guy who was booted from the flight forcing us to miss connections!! All we could do was laugh. (and curse Clay) To spare the details, we did eventually make it to Baltimore around 9pm and by the time we got our car and made it to the theater, it was close to 11pm. We walk in and the stage manager says, “You’re on in 5 minutes! Gag Reflex is closing the show.” And just like that with no time to catch our breath, we were on stage for our 20 minute set headlining a theater at the DC Comedy Fest! Word traveled quickly about our exploits as we soon found out upon arriving at the after-party around 12:30am. Troupes from Seattle, Portland, New York and other great cities were all hanging out at McFadden’s. We were surprised to hear the number of people who wanted to hear the story about the guy who got in a fight with a flight attendant and was booted from the plane. Needless to say, by the end of the night, the story had grown to almost hyperbolic proportions. Dena and I left exhausted at 2am and walked back to our hotel. It was a nice night for a walk and a great stress reliever. Still not drinking, I downed two diet cokes and was still ready for my bed. I didn’t have firm intentions of waking up early. We all wanted a fairly early start as we only had about 4 hours of sightseeing before we had to head back to Baltimore.

Sunday started with a buzz…literally…The alarm must’ve been set for the previous guest and it blared at 7am. Normally, I’d consider that sleeping in, but since I went to bed at 3am, it was essentially a nap. I tried to go back to sleep, but the inner voice started immediately. “Go for a nice jog…Explore the city while everyone else sleeps off their beers.” I tried to ignore the voice, but it’s always more powerful. I woke up, put on some clothes and headed outside around 7:30am. It was a gorgeous cool morning. The second I walked out of the hotel, I saw the tip of the Washington Memoral. How cool…I’m heading that way. We were in a beautiful part of the city near Dupont Circle. I jogged (I stress jog) by several Embassies, fabulous brownstones, CBS News, Departments of this and that and several other buildings where important things happen. I saw a directional sign that said, “White House” with an arrow pointing in the direction I was already running. I wonder how far away I am? I really had no idea. Wait…I’m at 1900, 1800, 1700, I’ll be damned…1600 Pennsylvania was in my sight! See, I’m a D.C. virgin and got the chills immediately upon seeing the Big House. I took a moment to express silent gratitude for a powerful and moving sight, not to mention a beautiful morning in the Nation’s Capital. Why isn’t everyone enjoying the same thing I am??? I suppose it’s a good thing that a few of us really treasure moments like these. I ran for about 45 minutes (I am tapering after all) and then stopped at COSI for some breakfast. I got back to the room around 9am expecting everyone to be up, dressed and waiting on me…ha ha…They were all still asleep. Wow. They missed it.

The day turned out to be glorious and we did a whirlwind visit around the grounds that included the White House, the Washington Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, the new WWII Memorial and, of course, the Vietnam Wall. Although I don’t personally know anyone, it was impossible not to be moved by those who take the time to leave photos, notes and etch names with pencil as a keepsake.

The airplane trip back to Austin rocked. Kudos to Southwest for an on-time departure, direct flight and a 1/2 hour early arrival!!! Thank you!

I’m heading off to bed for my taper week. It’s all about staying healthy now and doing some carb loading. I picked up the latest Runners World with several pages devoted to the Boston Marathon. It literally freaked me out. I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.


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