Browse Author

Dave Drake

Dean Smith Center seats

Dean Dome Seats – Cleaning 30 Years of Grime

Like I said in the previous post, these seats were rescued from a construction trash bin and then sat in a garage in Charlotte for 11 years.  Oh and before that they were used for every event in the Dean Dome for 30 years.  They had a fair amount of grime on them.

Softscrub with bleach was the way to go. You can see the difference it made.  Presumably the Sharpie “X” was on there to mark which seats were supposed to be removed in the remodel.  The Softscrub didn’t touch that. I’ll have to deal with them later.

Dean Smith Center seat restoration
The line of grime was even more visible in person.
Dean Smith Center seat restoration


Of course since I was using bleach on the plastic and metal, I removed the seat covers first.  Check out the fading that went on over the years…

Dean Dome stadium seat opened
Amazing color difference.

I thought about having them recovered but I like the idea of them being the original seat covers.  And if that’s the case, into the wash on sanitize cycle – twice.

Dean Dome seat restoration
The foam in the seats was disintegrating- some of that is visible on the underside of the cloth. That’s Oxy Clean sprinkled in there and “regular” detergent was used in the cycle too.

They looked considerably better when they came out. (I didn’t get a picture.).  The gum was  still on one seat thought so I’ll have to deal with that in my next post.

I think I’m leaving the foam as is – it’s in tact throughout but around the edges it’s disintegrating.  I don’t know where to get new foam and how to cut it to the same dimensions.  I’m sure I could take it to a reupholsterer  but I’m trying to keep costs down (and I already  know I have to get some welding done).  If you have any ideas let me know (either on Facebook or in the comments).

Here’s the foam…


Overall I’m really happy with how the cleaning went. Next up is dealing with the gum on one of the cushions.

Stay tuned and Go Heels!

Dean Smith Center seats

Dean Smith Center – Seat Restoration

They were renovating one of the most famous college basketball venues ever: the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC (a.k.a The Dean Dome).   So many classic games have been played in the Dean Dome. So many moments. So many close games with the crowd roaring and the seats filled… if you’ve been to a game there, you’ve likely been on the edge of one.

Back in 2005, I worked on campus and I’d heard about a remodel they were doing.  Apparently they were just throwing stuff away.  Fans quickly got wind of this and were hauling souvenirs out of the dumpsters.  Their targets: the stadium seats – from which fans had watched so many historic games all the way back to when Warren Martin sunk the first-ever basket in 1986.  I’d seen all of the home games as a student. I was there on Feb. 5, 1992 – for the “Bloody Montross game“.   I greeted the 1993, 2005 and 2009 National Championship teams with their trophies there.  And that’s just the basketball.  The Smith Center had also been the place where I’d seen R.E.M., Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Billy Joel… the list goes on.   And now 20 years later, I’ve even taken my kids to several games there.  There’s so much basketball — and my own personal — history there.

I went by after work to scout but I didn’t have any success.  There wasn’t anything left other than the typical construction debris.  I told myself it was just as well, I didn’t have any place for them anyway.  And by the way, you can’t even use these things as seats to begin with.  They attached directly to the concrete behind the seat (not on the floor) — they have no legs and they wouldn’t stand up by themselves.  It would just take up space in my garage anyway.  A garage that was full of other, half-complete projects as well as all of the “outside toys” that go along with two young kids.

Flash forward to 2016. My daughter just graduated high school and my son is driving.  My wife has put up with a hundred projects by now, most of which are Halloween-related or have something to do with the man cave.  (I don’t love that term, but you get the idea.)  I’d seen someone post online on a college basketball message board that they’d just fixed up a set of Dean Dome seats.   Really?  Could they they still be out there?  My interest was renewed but where was I going to get a seat? Off to eBay and Craigslist.  Here’s what I found…

As is. Two seats from the Dean Dome as they came - backs and seats only. Nothing else (except 30 plus years of grime).
As is. Two seats from the Dean Dome in the condition they were received – backs and seats only. Nothing else (except 30 plus years of grime and some chewing gum). Click for larger.

These 4 pieces have been in a garage in Charlotte for 11 years.  I drove to the far side of Charlotte and met the owner (great guy – 2006 grad and rabid fan himself).  We exchanged money for goods but then stayed around and talked Tar Heel sports for another 10-15 minutes.  He was selling these which he’d rescued on that fateful day because he’d found another set – lower level – and was ready to part with these.  We’ve actually texted and emailed over the last few days as he’s been interested to see the progress.  Me too.

Below is a set of seats that someone else has restored.  This is what I’m going for. I’ll be posting updates here; everything else will be more photo-heavy and not as wordy as above.  I just want to be able to chronicle the project in case others want to follow along or restore a set of stadium seats on their own.

Dean Smith Center stadium seats
Not mine — but this is the goal.

5 Ways You Won’t Become Famous In Comedy

We all have dreams of making it big. Every comic has entertained the idea of what it would be like to be famous. You may run into the “comedy snob” who says that they don’t care about becoming famous and only do stand-up for the art. They’re lying. I know, I was one for the first year.

Typically new comics don’t have much of a handle on what it takes to become famous… err… successful, in the world of comedy. You can’t plan for fame (that’ll be a different post). It’s easy to let yourself think that you’ll do a few sets at a local club, an agent will see you & sign you, and then you’ll be famous. Not so.

  1. You won’t get famous from one set.
  2. You won’t get famous from the coffee shop open mic.
  3. You won’t get famous from performing once a month.
  4. You won’t get famous from stealing someone else’s jokes.
  5. You won’t get famous from doing just one set in New York City or LA.


The danger for most is that they think one single event will change everything. They think, “If I can just get one show in front of a high-powered agent, I’ll get signed to a big contract.” And who can blame them. That’s what happens in the movies & TV. American Idol (and the like) has destroyed reality for hundreds of thousands of performers.

If you want to work, you have produce a reliable product. Nobody’s going to take a chance on someone who hasn’t proven themselves.

So go prove yourself.

Marketing Yourself In Comedy

If you’re going to try to market yourself online pick the easiest name to remember… usually your name… so you can tell people onstage and off. Say your name is Ed Barnett. Register and sign up for @edbarnett on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Don’t go around using some random twitter handle like @FunnyEd456 or a website like  It’s all about branding & being easy to remember.

You want to  be able to say to the audience just as you’re leaving the stage:

“Check me out at or on Twitter at @edbarnett.”

It’s also much easier to communicate this to industry types (if you’re at this point in your career).

If you can’t get try ( or Hyphenated names ( are less preferable because you’ll always have to remind them to use that hyphen.

Whatever you pick, stick with it.

Topics to Avoid When Starting Out In Comedy

Tampons, douche, and any other feminine hygiene related topics

Go to any open mic anywhere in the world and you’ll likely hear a first-time comic talking about tampons.  Watch an hour of your 3 favorite big-time comics.  They won’t go near the subject. Why? The laughs that come from this are typically nervous laughs.  Men don’t understand them; women are taught to hide them. Talking about something that makes people uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily make it funny.

Rape and Child Molestation

Everybody wants to be the next Louis CK and many think that by copying his “shocking” style they’ll jump on some sort of “hot trend” and be able to find work easier. The thing is that audiences know what to expect from Louis CK so they give him a lot of leeway. They’ve never heard of you and if you try to cut your teeth on tough subjects like this, you’ll most likely fail. Learn the craft first & then tackle hard subjects.

Racial Issues

First time comics should tread lightly here.  Even minority comics.  White comics can come across as bigoted without intending to be.  Minority comics can come across as hacks. Unless you have some great new personal twist on the race thing, it’s probably already been done.  I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see a new black comic do 5 minutes without ever mentioning that he’s black.

Funny at Parties ≠ Funny on Stage

People tell you that “you’re so funny, you should go on stage”.  You hear it all the time. You’re able to tell jokes, make references to funny movie sayings, or just react quickly and humorously to a given situation.  You’re likely a very fun and funny person.

This doesn’t mean you’ll do well on stage.

Time and again, I’ve seen the “funniest guy in the frat house” go up on stage becasue he was dared to by his buddies. He not only bombed, but outright embarrassed himself.  It’s not his fault.  He did well at parties. After a few drinks, he’d do his “Will Ferrell from Anchorman” impression and people would go nuts.  He could pull in references to what the Indian teaching assistant said in class this week and wasn’t afraid to sing in a girlie voice to the Justin Bieber song that just came on the radio. He’s frickin’ crazy bro!

Think about how any of those would play on stage. If I want to see  Anchorman, I can rent it. I wasn’t in class when the T.A. said that thing, because I’ve been out of school for 10 years. And singing in a funny voice to Bieber? Really?

The thing with performing on stage is that you can’t just act silly and goofy. You have to have jokes. Jokes can take many different forms but they need to do two things: set the audience up and then give them something to laugh at. Your style can be like Bill Cosby, Ellen DeGeneres, Louis C.K., Demetri Martin, Carrot Top or Steven Wright… or like none of them, but you still have to have jokes. Even though it probably doesn’t seem like it, there’s a framework to stand up comedy. The audience in a club, whether they realize it or not, is expecting that framework.  Always think of things from the audience’s point of view.

If you’re naturally funny like the frat boy, then you can likely write jokes and build such a framework.  Like anything else, you just need to work at it.  You can learn what a “tag” and a “call back” are.  Applying them in the right way is what learning the “craft” is all about.


Where Do We Go From Here?

So I’d like to start blogging about stand-up comedy. I’m not famous and never made it big in NYC or LA, but I did perform somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 shows around the US over a 5-6 year year period and made enough to pay the bills just from comedy! Frickin awesome right?

Anyway, I’m under no illusions that some advice that I may give would turn someone into the next Jerry Seinfeld, but I’d like to help new stand ups get over the open mic wall. Help them hone their first 5 minutes and turn it into 15 minutes. Help them get to a point where they might have something worthwhile to submit to an agent. I still keep in touch with a few agents I knew back in the day and hope to get them to weigh in here as well.

I plan to write about joke-writing pitfalls, structuring your act, stage presence, “the business of comedy”, and even getting an agent. Most of this was sparked by me stumbling upon a great community over at Reddit known as /r/StandUp. In fact, that’s my first piece of advice: check them out over there. It’s worth your time.