The main thing Brandon Roberts was worried about Tuesday night was not tripping on the stage.
The hulking comedian — who grew up rocking both mullets and fades in his childhood, which spanned between a trailer park in Lone Grove to a small home in Southeast Ardmore — didn’t trip.
And upon finding his footing and the mic, Roberts faced his next challenge: Staring at 180 eyeballs — comprised of pastors, his grandma and over 80 Southern Oklahomans — waiting to be entertained.
“I took a deep breath and made it work,” Roberts said.
His timing was on point. The jokes he wrote — gleaned from his life experiences on both sides of the tracks — hit. And he even had enough material to go past his ten minutes of allotted time, at one point riffing on a relative in attendance.
“That got me in trouble,” he said, laughing. “Grandma liked the rest of the show though.”
It was the second set of the budding Springer comedian’s career and a big improvement from his first time on stage just two months ago.
Roberts, who works for Southern Market as a food distributor or ‘snack pimp’ said he learned a lot from his failures and hopes to learn more soon. On Tuesday he followed in the steps of comedians who have made it big. The realization of a dream he’s becoming more comfortable with by the set.
“I hope to take comedy as far as I can,” he said. “Wherever it takes me.”
But if it wasn’t for Mill Street Garage, Roberts said he might not have ever taken up his new passion.
On the first Tuesday of every month since February this year, Mill Street Garage, located in downtown Ardmore, has become a fertile oasis in a wasteland of local comedy.
It’s a place where local comedians have gotten their start, while also bringing in headliners like Cyrus Steele, a comedian who’s been featured on HBO and Comedy Central.
So far, it’s been a hit.
Tim Longest, the owner of Mill Street Garage, said every show has sold out, and the tickets to the last comedy night were gone within 80 minutes.
Where many saw a desert in terms of local comedy, Longest said he saw opportunity.
“My wife and I looked around and couldn’t find any comedy within 45 minutes,” Longest said. “We just felt like the people of Ardmore deserve as good of quality of comedy as Dallas or Oklahoma City has.”
The Tuesday night shows feature big-name guests and local comedians like Roberts and Zach Collins, looking to get their start.
”Some comics die in front of the crowd, it happens,” Longest said. “They’re swinging at every pitch, sometimes they miss and sometimes they hit a home run. But I think we’ve kept a promise to our customers that we’ll provide big city quality.  And we’re keeping our promise to the locals, that if you think you can get up and go on stage, you can do it here.”
Zach Collins, a 29-year-old Health Inspector for the State Department out of Sulphur heard the call to comedy in February, taking the stage as a comedian for the first time at Mill Street Garage.
Now he spends his weekends in Tulsa, honing his craft at comedy clubs and bars.
“For comedy, there wasn’t anything local,’ Collins said. “There’s good comedy in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Dallas, but around here — it’s a wasteland. It’s awesome that they’re doing this in Ardmore.”
Collins said Mill Street gave him his shot. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was part of how he found his voice as a comedian.
“It’s the only way to do it,” Collins said. “You’re not gonna get good at stand-up by reading from a book or emulating somebody. You have to get up there and suck a few times.”
Both Roberts’ and Collins’ mugs now occupy the same wall space alongside the headshots of the professional comedians who have passed through Mill Street in the past five months.
For Roberts, getting to see the professionals first hand is special, and sharing the same stage is an honor, but he had trouble picking up on any tricks to the trade Tuesday night.
“Standing on the same stage with Cyrus Steele, it’s something else,” Roberts said. “if I could get to be as funny as him, I’ll be satisfied. I’ll have made it. But seeing him, I didn’t really learn much. I was too busy cracking up.”