A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
I think rather than try to describe just another day in that really long depressing blog about what I have to go through. I’d share a few of my favorite pictures from over the years. With the story to each one. There’s also a couple important comedy clips down at the bottom.
If you can’t read the comment card it says “These were the worst comics so far.” The staff at the comedy club said “oh don’t worry. She’s a regular. That’s the wheelchair cunt. She comes every weekend and complains.” STOP LETTING HER COME? Maybe. ” You try to not take it to heart even if a lady is screaming at you and then another audience member calls her a cunt and you laugh because you’re like “I was thinking it, but she said it first.” Mike Birbiglia put it best: “When people don’t like a play or a movie, they can say, ‘We didn’t like the set or the script or the costumes.’ With standup comedy, if people don’t like it, they basically say, ‘We don’t like you. Y’know, your personality.’”
Here’s an old classic. Another bar show. That person asleep in the front row while the show is still going on is supposed to be the MC and the first comedian. The one who introduces everybody and warms the audience up. It’s a hard job, and it’s taxing so it’s best to get a lot of sleep before the show. Again. Movie theaters are dark. The chairs can be comfy. I don’t think I’ve ever dozed off but I could see how it could happen. It’s a comedy show, and you’re the host. and you’re asleep. and I’m supposed to just keep going like shits great. “Hope you guys like dick jokes!”
Another fine story. A friend and I are on an infamous “Tribble Run” those are low paying gigs in small towns that nobody would go to on purpose. This is where you get your “road legs.” You pop your cherry on those gigs, it’s like bootcamp. My first tribble run ever I was bombing so bad and trying so hard. A woman said loudly “under” her breath to her friends at her table “If he doesn’t get off stage, I’m gonna come up there and unplug the microphone.” Yeah. I take it you guys don’t like dick jokes? Then you have to drive 8 hours in the morning to get to the next one. In the glory days there were 4 or even 5 nights in a row of this and the last night you’re in the middle of Montana. Then it’s a 15 hour drive home. That’s a lot of time to reflect on your career choices up to this point. A lot of people avoid these shows. Not saying they’re right or better off for it. but I understand the decision. One of those nights we were driving from Winnemucca, Nevada to Klamath Falls, Oregon. A paltry 6 hour drive. The day before we drove from Coos Bay, Oregon to Winnemucca. A nice 10/11 hours. The day before was another 6 hour drive. You get the point. We’re about a half hour from our hotel and getting ready for a nap. The booker calls us and needs a favor. He forgot he said we were going to do a show at a baseball stadium as a charity event to promote the show at night. Blah blah. By the way. It starts in an hour. We got to the hotel, showered, pulled up to the baseball stadium to do a show. Kids in the audience listening to some lady talk about protecting birds and showing sad videos about the zoo or something. Now. The comedian. Hey… 4 balls law… get it? Baseball stadium? CMON!
It actually turned out to be a fun show. (better than the show we did later too.) and I sold a bunch of CDs and had a good time. In the green room. (the locker rooms) I drew up a gameplan for the show. By the way. I haven’t done one of these Tribble runs in almost a year. It’s a small victory to survive without having to do them. There’s a couple other stories like this, I forget but I had to do “favors” where he “owed you one” a few times. One time I tried to essentially cash them in. They do all their booking via email. One time an email said “features looking to move up, this is your chance. It’s summer, gas prices are really high and a lot of the shows are on break for the slow season so most of the runs are only 1 or 2 nights now.” I emailed asking to headline. They said “where else have you headlined?” I kinda tried to dart around the question and said “I’m one of the better features and I have plenty of good reviews. I’ve done all these favors, and you said this is an opportunity to move up. I just thought I would ask.” I got an email back that said “We sure appreciate the favors. That’s showbiz, kid. You’re a headliner when headliners can’t follow you. This is a courtesy reply, we didn’t want you to think you were being ignored.” I was so angry. I wrote him back: “For a courtesy reply, a comment like “welcome to showbiz” doesn’t seem very courteous.” but I also added let me know what I need to do to work my way up blah blah and still maintain a good reputation. Not the smartest move probably and I’ve done shows for them still. I just have my limits of being pat on the head and saying “good job, there, kiddo.” Which again. Happens very often in this business.
This is my car buried in a blizzard in Denver after 2 feet of snow and half our shows got cancelled. That was fun. Last year I took a gig in Indianapolis in January. I decided instead of bullying my parents in to letting me use my frequent flyer mileage, I would use the opportunity to work some other clubs in the midwest. I was nervous as hell driving around the midwest in the middle of winter. I lucked out, mostly. But still. You gotta take the opportunities as they come. This year I’m trying to book the shows out there for October or November. We’ll see how it goes. My rule that I never follow is that I’ll take anything the first time around. The second time around, after I’ve proven myself, give me a little shred of respect and let me try to work a schedule around it. Please?
Here’s a show I did in Pittsburgh. I drove there. This is the “stage” and it wasn’t a very comedy friendly environment. I did alright. It wasn’t one for the video highlight reel, but sometimes surviving is what its about.
This is the bathroom of the gig in Pittsburgh. This is how they promoted it. Comforting. No door on the stall either. That’s the whole bathroom right there. Mens side at least. I don’t wanna know where the women had to go.
Another classic set up for comedy. Inbetween a dartboard and Monday Night football. I take offense to the sign that says “Top Entertainment” ehhhhh. I’m guessing Top Entertainment would be a little better. I’ve had many shows like this believe it or not. One time I was doing a show in Yakima at a bar called sportscenter. During the NCAA Finals. DURING. There’s a big screen tv on stage next to me. My job at that point as the opener is to kill enough time for the game to end and then bring up the headliner. So I basically told jokes during the commercial breaks and then did play by play color commentary on the basketball game. BTW, don’t try to convince the owner of the SPORTS BAR that maybe you should wait a few minutes for the game to be over. “No. The newspaper is here for the comedy show and they have to leave in 15 minutes.” Well, awesome. Wouldn’t want the newspaper to miss out on the great comedy show. How about turning the TVs off? “nah, a lot of people are here to see the game.” C’mon funny boy, whatcha got?
Cedar City, Utah. Probably the closest I’ve been to getting stabbed during a show. That’s a weird story I try to forget about it. Speaking of fancy promotion. How about a giant inflatable frog that roams the streets. Hilarious. This town was pretty rough. There were a lot of neck tattoos in the audience that night and I secretly wondered slash hoped there was a car bomb waiting for me when I went to retreat back to my hotel.
Aside from interesting gigs and alienating yourself from society and almost getting killed getting to and from every gig and consistently wondering why you’re doing this and consistently wondering why you didn’t pay more attention in film school and why you didn’t go into radio and not having friends anymore and not being able to afford to live. You are literally in hotels all the time. Different ones every night even. Aside from all the stuff associated with not having a home. You start to miss the things you take for granted. Something as simple as knowing the password to the wifi. Or making it easier. It gets lonley out there. Internet porn is a big part of staying out of trouble. If I can love myself before or after a crappy gig. It’s still ok. lol. I’m still alive. Happy thoughts. Naked women. But then you have a hotel where the password is 80 letters long and you spend 2 hours trying different things to type in and the front desk isn’t helpful, they just hand you a paper. Now you’re living in the hotel and you can’t connect to the internet, you can’t update your blog and tell your parents you’ve made a huge mistake and you want to move back in. You can’t check your email and see if any more of these shitty gigs have come in. Yes. ludacris. You want to do this. more.
Then a guy like this comes along and goes “I can’t believe you got paid that much to just sit there.” I’m getting paid retroactively. For all the shit it took to get through here and all the shit I’ll keep going through. For not complaining about it every day. For not quitting. Every comedian has done it. These stories are one in a million. These are just the stories I came up with in the last 15 minutes scrolling through random pictures I uploaded to facebook. This happens every day. Next time you see a comedian. Just give him a hug. lol. or a dollar. Or a role in your next commercial. “I can’t believe you got paid that much to just sit there. Excuse me, I’ve gotta sit here and tell these people what to do. Yeah uhhh, can you smile more when you eat the taco? OK good. That’s a wrap!” “I thought it was a taco.” I don’t mean to come down hard on my brother. I know I went off a little. but it stung a little. I know he didn’t do it on purpose and I know he cares. Yadda yadda. but this is some of the stuff I’ve done 300 times a year. While you’re jetsetting to LA every other weekend because it’s raining in Seattle.
But if you work really hard and you’re kind. Amazing things will happen.
When I was first getting started. I sucked at comedy. I had an idea of what I was doing but really raw. I didn’t really have any plans. Just blissfully ignorant and hopeful. My dad would let me come on the radio and bomb and they’d make fun of me. Of course we both knew he was building my fan base and if I ever got good those people would be with me for life. It was toughening me up. Teaching me how to perform on radio and letting me know via silence that a joke is not funny. One day Titus called in and my dad made me tell a joke. The joke ate it, partially because I just told the joke to everyone off air and they laughed and partially because the joke was terrible. Titus instead of being a dick about it, gave me a quick 3 minute lecture on how to write comedy and get good. I never forgot it. I saved the audio and made it a youtube video to share with anyone else. Even though it’s embarassing because I left my shitty joke in there. 🙂
After busting my ass for 3 years. Titus let me open his show with 5 minutes in front of 800 people. He’d never heard a joke of mine except this 3 years ago. He had a lot of balls. I could’ve just made anything up. I had a great time and those are the moments you savor. You hold on to the good nights when the going gets tough and remember the dream.
It could be worse, I could be making as much money as Adam Corolla:
I watched part of a show and saw Adam do this whole inspirational message thing at the end. I wanted to film it, luckily I got to watch the next show and he made an even better speech.
“Did I believe in myself? Fuck no, I didn’t believe in myself.” haha. That’s what I mean. Every comedian has these stories. This is the norm. How weird is that?