Usually, when you tour with somebody, after the first few nights, their act becomes stale and trite; you've heard it all before, you know what jokes they're going to tell, and you know what song they're about to play next. So, after a few weeks, you start to hide out back of the club during their set just to avoid hearing those same damn songs again.
But it was never like this with Chris. I'd watch his set every night, because every night he brought a fresh perspective to the stage. It was mostly little things, new inflections and implications, or a sudden reaction to something going on in the room, but it was always new, always engaging.
One of my favorite memories from those years was of a night in Colorado when we all stayed at the club long after our audience had gone home. The manager was serving us drinks, and lazily sweeping up the floor. We were all laughing and joking, playing a bit of pool on a dusty old table in the back of the room.
Then, Chris got up on stage, even though he'd just played an hour-long set, and he started performing again. It was a pantomime of sorts, a parody of his typical act, but it was just as great, and just as engaging.
We all stood around and watched him, in the middle of the night, after having taken hundreds of photos with strangers in a loud and smelly room, after having sweat under hot lights, and having dragged our heavy equipment to and from the stage, after having driven sixteen hours just to get there, and knowing that we had another ten-hour drive ahead of us, despite all of this, we stayed up till almost dawn and watched him play because it was pure entertainment-- because he was great.
That's how I remember Chris, but we still keep in touch sometimes online. Just a few nights ago, I heard that he was on The Voice, a popular television gameshow. I don't own a TV, so I haven't seen his performance, but apparently he didn't make it past the first round.
On the show, they have three giant chairs, with three celebrities sitting in them like kings, and if you're deemed good enough, they turn around and actually watch your act... But if they don't like what you're doing, they'll just sit with their backs turned, as if you don't even exist. For Chris, they all sat thusly, ignoring his performance.
I think of this, and it makes me a little sick... To know that such an incredible talent can fight against the world's ugliness and indifference, and persist in offering beauty for over a decade, and that still, almost predictably, the world seemingly turns its back on him.
So anyway, I suppose this whole rant was just my way of acknowledging Chris, and his incredible gift. It was my way of turning my metaphorical chair around, and watching his talent unfold. (And if you're curious to hear what he's all about, I've attached his latest video below).
I think that the world is a better place when people like Chris can afford to share their art, and if you agree, he's looking for patrons to help him do just that. Even if you can't assist an artist financially, take a moment to share their work, to help tell their story. It's so common to see petty memes or political propaganda popping up on Facebook-- why not make it just as common to come across something beautiful?