I was doing a show at a winery tonight. I think I just blogged about that story a few days ago. The last time I performed here, my mom became a fan finally. It’s time to re-up on that contract. They gave me another bottle of wine. Should keep her off my back for a little while. If I can keep doing shows in Snoqualmie Casino every couple months and having really cool things to talk about like going on tour for 6 weeks. I’m sure they’ll stay motivated to keep me alive for a while. Someone compared it to a gas tank that can get you so far before you have to re fill it. You’ve got to have some really good gigs to fill the tank to make it through the tough gigs. I’m good. I’m not going to quit anytime soon. The tour was kindof a big deal, but now that I’m done. It was just me doing what I do in other places for a long time in a row. It wasn’t that special. It wasn’t my first time away. It wasn’t my first feature sets. It wasn’t anything I don’t know how to do. My set travels. I’m good at it most of the time.
Just going to work but to everyone else it was a big deal. Because It was 6 weeks in a row. That’s a new level of achievement when you can do it out of town for a long time in a row. Nobody cares or noticed that I once did 22 weeks straight of paid work in Seattle before a last minute cancellation broke the streak. No one cares I’m at 18 weeks in a row currently. 6 weeks out of town is cool! Sometimes I look back at my calendar and I don’t even know how I’ve done it. Some luck. Some hard work. Then I look at the empty spots on the calendar coming up and I get sad. I would love to say that it fills itself after I’ve proven myself. Nope. Still gotta work every day on filling that up. It’s cool though. Because eventually. I’ll have to work less at filling it myself and I can count on a few things every so often. Right now I can count on Laughs giving me some dates every so often, but I’ll try to book other stuff first because I know I can always fill in with local stuff.
Sometimes you assume these are distinguished people or classy by the fact that they have money. You’d be wrong. They’re just normal people but sometimes they think they’re distinguished, so you watch out for that. I remember last year the comic who booked me was … maybe not surprised when I did well but exceeded expectations I guess: “I can’t believe some of the stuff you pulled off. Dick jokes.” I kinda shrugged. That was that fun ignorance. I had confidence. I was funny. Why wouldn’t they like me? Now that I know better. It’s a catch 22. I get myself into a show and I look around and I know what I talk about and I guess what these people are going to like. Winery. Upscale. I’m comforted that some of my jokes about my family might exceed their normal comedy club potential, but some of the rap music stuff would get lost and become offensive.
I was hanging out in the green room before the show. A guy poked his head in and said “That’s where the talent is.” I made a joke “I wouldn’t say Talent. I just tell jokes. That’s not hard.” and we carried on a conversation. “I would love to do what you do. I’ve dreamed about it.” “Yeah well. Laughs up the street has an open mic every week.” “Yeah every tuesday. I’ve thought about it but my wife won’t let me.” and then his wife jumps in: “I just don’t want him to talk about masturbating for an hour.” – Those are the people you want at a comedy show. They respect you for what you do, they aren’t afraid to talk about “no no” topics. Humans. Another guy came up to me and said “Hey I saw you last year, you were great.” I said “Thanks” he said “I brought some friends this time. Make sure you bring your A game.” I was lying but I was just trying to go with what I thought he would want to hear so I said: “Oh, I always do.” and he said “Well. I saw you when you first started. Not always.” Hey! fuck you, buddy. haha. That was my A game back then. Why do you need to tell me to bring my A game? I don’t want to bomb as much as you want me to be funny. Why would you bring it up? I know you thought you were being funny but you didn’t think that would screw with my head?
That’s the guy you don’t want at your show. Seen you before when you were good, and seen you when you started and admits he thought you were terrible. Not even a handicap for being new. Just didn’t bring my “A Game.”
It’s a pretty common thread to think about for comics. “This is our job. We don’t mess with you at your job.” “Hey there. Make sure you build those wings nice and sturdy. I was on a plane one time and it got really bumpy.” and the guy is there dumbfounded like “Dude. That has nothing to do with my wing.” and he can’t even explain it to you because you’re an idiot and it’s not like you can convince him. Nobody starts out at a high level in comedy, people don’t get that. My friend Geoff Tate just signed my book “As long as you don’t quit, you’re a comedian. and as long you don’t quit, you’ll be great. It’s all time.” Theoretically the only difference between me and him is 10 years of experience. In theory. Some people are just born better at making planes. Some people just have an idea. Nobody gets on stage the first time and has it all figured out. Not saying engineers don’t work their way up, but not everyone enters at the bottom. I guess. How many professions allow you to fail on a consistent basis to get good? Not engineers. You need to be perfect from day 1 when building an airplane. I think that’s the point I’m trying to make. Not that you start out good at it. If a plane crashes. Heads roll. You can’t build a plane wrong. They don’t throw you on the factory floor, no instruction manual. “Alright. This thing needs to fly!” Maybe they do, and that’s what takes Boeing so god damn long to build that 777. They keep messing it up and having to start over. “Someone call China. Bob put the engine on the big part of the plane. It’s gonna be another year or two.”
I had a pretty good set, I was happy with it. but I wasn’t comfortable at all. Some shows, I tell my first joke and I’m like “Cool. I got this.” They laughed but I felt like any second they would turn on me if I wasn’t on my A game. I did some new jokes about my family and told the story of the last time I performed there and they were all with it. I ran out of family jokes and started towards the rap music jokes. (Afterwards I completely forgot about my mcdonalds/fastfood chunk that I could have done to try and stall to get them to like me more before we ventured down that path.) They liked it but they were hesitant to admit they liked it. Every once in a while I would catch a look from people who just looked disappointed. I was like “Mom and Dad came to my show?” I recognize that face. haha. Maybe some old people are just stuck looking like that. I did a good job of ignoring their look of “He’s going to hell” and focused on having a good time. After I got off stage, a couple of the people on the aisle stuck out their hands for high fives, which encouraged almost everyone else to do it. That’s a weird reaction to a comedy show. Don’t hi five me. Come shake my hand after the show. Buy a CD. Clap. Give your daughter my phone number. Not a hi five. It’s not a sporting event. I didn’t hit a home run. I did bring my A game though.
Here’s a funny video about comedians and the SXSW festival based on the Hitler MEME:
This is why as a comedian you have to demand SOME money.