Breaking a City

I wrote this a year ago about the state of comedy in my city.  Things have changed but I figure this is a good place to look back at where I was at that point in time.

It’s March 2013 I’m staring dead-eyed at my computer screen and I notice a Facebook posting from my friend about an open mic at Jake’s Backroom.  My name is Aaron Durbin and I live in Lubbock, Texas.  Lubbock, Texas is a town of 250 thousand people.  We have a major university, we have Buddy Holly, and large drinking scene.  What we don’t have is a comedy club.  Where towns half our size have very successful comedy clubs the last comedy club in Lubbock Froggy Bottoms closed in the mid-90s.  Lubbock has become comedy dessert.

Back to me.  Around the time Froggy Bottoms closed its doors I was a young high school student just becoming a fan of standup comedy.  I remember sneaking in the living room and turning on HBO to see Eddie Murphy Raw for the first time.  Lubbock would occasionally get theater touring acts and every chance I could go I would.  Vince Vaugh’s Wild West Comedy tour stopped here and I was there.  But, there was no local scene.  People would start a few open mics it would die and people would move to Austin.  A scene could never sustain itself and people never blinked an eye.   This is the same city that when a new restaurant of any kind opens the lines flow in to the streets for months until the next one opens.

Last year, after seeing my friend Adam’s posting about the open mic I was interested.  Adam was one of the people trying to create a scene a few years back with his Chuckleheads shows but at the time I was still a fan.  I told no one went up did 10 minutes walked off stage and knew I would be back next week.  I met Joe Gardener who was a graduate student at Texas Tech and asked the bar if he could start an open mic.  This was the beginning and all troubles of the previous mics started to happen.  The crowds diminished at Jake’s be the comics continued.  We found an Owner of a bar that felt that Lubbock needed a scene and we started at show at Backstage Lubbock.  It was difficult at first with low turnout and fighting drunks for the right to be listened to.  The students left for summer and the few us left kept the scene alive.  This is Lubbock this where the Interstate ends.  A city once ranked the prudest city in America.  “There’s nothing to do in Lubbock” was uttered ad nauseam but we kept going.  The owner of Backstage gave us a night at a hotel bar which became the comic’s clubhouse.  We now had three shows a week.  We had to keep going to change this the culture of this city.  Doug Stanhope stopped at Backstage sold out and killed.  We paired up with LMAO comedy and now have a touring comic do a show once a month and we provide the MC and guest comic.

February 12th 2014.  We just finished our second straight week of having all the covers filled with people at the Backstage Show.  We have a show on Tuesday at Ravi’s Hookah Lounge, a show at the Recovery Room on Wednesday, and our main show at Backstage on Thursday.  Jason Russell through LAMO Comedy with be preforming at Backstage Valentine’s Day.  We are doing our first showcase next week at Gatsby’s coffee house Friday February 20th where I will be preforming a 15min set of my killer bits from over 50 open mics.  Lubbock is changing and we are breaking the city.


Aaron Durbin


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