“There is a huge sober community in the city,” says Patrick Strait. “But it’s kind of tough—especially when you’re new to sobriety—to really know how to reintroduce yourself into the world and start having fun again. But there is a way to keep doing that even if you don’t drink or do drugs anymore.”
Enter this Tuesday’s Recovery Riot.
“We are doing a full, sober night of comedy at the Acme,” says Strait, who often covers the comedy scene as a contributing writer for City Pages. “It’s a pretty solid lineup. We’ll have Greg Coleman, Cy Amundson, Mike Earley, and Moe Yaqub.”
As the show’s name suggests, no alcohol will be served at the event, nor will there be any jokes about alcohol or drugs. The show is this week on October 15 which, coincidentally, is the fourth anniversary of Strait’s sobriety. “That wasn’t planned,” he notes, “it just worked out that way.”
As a fan of standup comedy at the area’s comedy clubs, Strait became wary of those spaces after getting sober. “I never really figured out how to do anything fun that didn’t involve drinking. Going to a comedy club, a game, a concert; drinking was always a part of it.”
He didn’t go anywhere near a comedy club for six months after he got sober. “The idea of being anywhere that served alcohol, but me not drinking, was kind of foreign to me. I wasn’t sure how to handle it.”
Eventually, he eased his way back, exploring different venues with sober eyes.
“I started going back to Acme and the other clubs in town when I realized it’s not about the booze,” he says. “It’s about the comedy and having something you enjoy doing and seeing. That’s what really good standup is.”
For Strait, it wasn’t one big event that put him into recovery, but a series of mishaps. “I had a kid who was only five weeks old at the time,” he recalls. “I was trying to figure out how to still live my life, but do it as a parent. There was a lot of pressure, and even before that my drinking was already out of control. I was a bad drinker, man. A lot of people don’t know how to go and do some things that are fun without drinking; I didn’t know how to do anything. Every occasion was a good reason to drink.” Strait would wake up and count the hours until he could get to a liquor store and quell the shakes. “My whole life revolved around drinking, and it sucked. It was exhausting. It eventually made everything stop being fun.”
Even going to Acme to enjoy a standup show broke bad. “I’d leave there and be super drunk after drinking way too much, not remembering the show; I wasn’t as focused on the comedy, and it just wasn’t a fun way to live.”
It took two tries to get sober. “I’m a very slow learner,” he says. “The second time I tried doing all the things the sober community tells you to do. I moved into a sober house in St. Paul, which was a great experience, though I’m glad I’m not there anymore.”
Proceeds from the show will benefit his former home, the Stepping Stones sober house. Strait is now remarried and shares custody of his son with his ex-wife. He hopes Recovery Riot will be just one of many events in the Twin Cities that those in recovery, not to mention those who just don’t drink, can enjoy.
“There are restaurants that are doing sober Sundays,” he says. “It’s funny, because as a recovering alcoholic I hear about these events where alcohol isn’t the focus and think, ‘People can’t drink responsibly,’” he says with a laugh. “Then I remember that not everyone has a raging drinking problem like I did.”
IF YOU GO:
Acme Comedy Co.
708 N. First St., Minneapolis
8 p.m. Tuesday, October