Bob’s Garage isn’t an autoshop, I explain to the Lyft driver who’s taking me there to meet up with Teresa Roberts Logan for lunch. It’s a bar, restaurant and the eighth wonder of the world. It’s decorated to the max all year long, but naturally right now it’s Christmastime at Bob’s. Every nook and cranny is covered in wrapped gift boxes, twinkling lights, ornaments, stockings, garland—the works.
Logan works under the title of “The Laughing Redhead” in her cartooning (which can be found in each issue of the Current), and that red hair makes her easy to spot at the bar. She’s doodling santa hats in a notebook, brainstorming ideas for future cartoons. I can’t think of a better place for some holiday inspiration.
“I love that they put this much heart and soul into it,” Logan says, remarking on the decor. Though, she admits she’s more of a Halloween person. She likes the bats, zombies, and ghosts.
Logan has put a lot more thought into holidays than most people, given that out of college she went to work for Hallmark as an artist and writer in Kansas City for several years, and she still makes and sells cards today. I ask her if being in the greeting card business ruins the holidays.
“It doesn’t affect how I feel about holidays, but it does make me break things down,” she says. “I brainstorm and take everything in; like I’ll do all the jokes I can think of about a santa hat, or I’ll draw the shape of a santa hat and think is there anything funny about that.”
We’re both especially excited for our lunch at Bob’s. Logan tells me that she lost her senses of smell and taste a few years ago due to sinus problems.
“When I can’t taste or smell I’m really into the texture and visual, so what I find really satisfying is sushi and Japanese food,” Logan says.
But, good news; today, she’s getting over a bout of laryngitis for which her doctor has her on steroids that have temporarily made her able to taste again. So she happily orders the Ramblin Rachel sandwich, which is a sister to the reuben, filled with turkey and coleslaw instead of corned beef and sauerkraut.
I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to try a Pittsburgh dish that’s eluded me in the years since I moved to the city—Turkey Devonshire. Our server says that the recipe for the creamy, cheesy Devonshire sauce that blankets the open-faced turkey, bacon, and tomato sandwich is more than 50 years old.
You might be afraid that a place that puts two weeks of work into their decorations each year would be neglecting the stuff that really matters, but Bob’s manages to be garish-as-hell and yet somehow avoids gimmick. There are regulars and the staff is friendly and apparently there’s great karaoke nights. Everything is done with a sincerity that shows Bob’s isn’t trying to make a buck off of holiday cheer. Bob’s is just being Bob’s.
Logan isn’t just a cartoonist and card-maker. Once, in a presentation at Hallmark where her coworkers gave slideshow after slideshow, Logan and friends decided they wanted to do something different.
“We did a game show called ‘You Bet Your Job’ and I dressed up like a gameshow host in a leisure suit and a mustache and this real pretty blonde friend of mine was the silly assistant and we improv’d this whole thing,” Logan says.
A coworker came up to her afterwards and asked if she’d done stand up before. She hadn’t, and he said she should give it a go. So they started going to open mics together and she loved it.
“Soon I had to make a decision: do I keep working at Hallmark full-time or do I hit the road and really try to do this?” she says. “And I hit the road.”
Logan started putting a thousand miles on her car each week in the late 80’s, travelling around the midwest doing shows in clubs. She opened for Jerry Seinfeld in Kansas City on a night when the whole Royal’s baseball team had come out to see the show. Logan moved to Colorado and opened for Ellen Degeneres at a club there. Afterwards, they did karaoke together.
“We did Lady Marmalade,” Logan remembers. “So I kind of feel like I should never do karaoke again because that’s my story now.”
Between cartooning, stand up, and also her paintings (one of which hangs in Whoopi Goldberg’s dressing room at The View) Logan is juggling a lot of creative ventures. She goes through phases where one will fill more of her time than the others, but she isn’t willing to abandon any of them entirely.
“I used to feel a lot more sensitive about that, like maybe I should just focus on one thing, but I thought, all of these things feed me and I feel really successful that I get to do these things,” she says. “I’m just happier when I’m doing all of it.”
Logan’s brand of comedy used to be family friendly, and it still is for the most part. But she’s finding as time goes on, she’s not as concerned with keeping to that standard. She’s feeling more driven to talk about politics and to use her stand up as a way to work through the things life throws at her.
“Moving here from DC was really hard for me because I’m in love with DC, and I like Pittsburgh a lot but it’s a new place,” Logan says.
“I was just in this period of moving from a place I really loved to a place I didn’t know that well, and within two months, my father passed away, I lost my senses of taste and smell, we moved and I was t-boned in a car accident in Colorado.
“I hadn’t been doing comedy very much, and I just thought, I have to do comedy about this because that’s all you can do. You have to do something with it.”
And so she started opening her set by rattling off that list: the passing of her father, the loss of her senses, the wreck. Logan even did a whole seven-minute set on death. She’s found that the more personal you get, the more universal it is.
“It’s interesting to me doing real, real stuff that is close to your heart, but everybody can relate to it, and we have to laugh about this because it’s so tragic,” Logan says. “There’s not much I can’t laugh about.”
After two years in the city, she still feels new in town. But Logan is liking what she’s seen in Pittsburgh so far—both in the food scene and the comedy community.
“I’m really impressed with the comedy here, and I came from the Denver comedy community [which is] known to be one of the best, the hottest. Pittsburgh’s there. They’re amazing. And of course the fine arts and the cartooning community is great here, too.”
As we’re leaving Bob’s Garage, we tell our server how much we enjoyed our meal. We’re both already planning return visits with family and friends that need to experience Bob’s around the holidays.
He tells us to come back for karaoke some night and we laugh to ourselves, because we know why Logan can’t do karaoke. Well, unless maybe Ellen comes to town.