For the three years I was a doorman at the Columbus Funnybone (2000-’02), there were a handful of headliners and even features who used sound cues. A few even had light cues on top of that. The club had an excellent system with multiple doormen and managers for those things, yet we still messed up at least once or twice a week. Some comics brought in their guitars, amps, etc. Let’s just say that at least one $800 amp was blown up preshow because we plugged something into the wrong kind of outlet. Again, this is at one of the better clubs.
So can a comic trust a one-nighter at a bar with his or her equipment? Sound cues? Light cues? Actually, at a lot of bar shows you’ll be lucky to have a spotlight on your face during the show. The point is this, stay low maintenance. The more things you have, the more things can go wrong. Don’t be dependant on props, sounds, lights, or anything that adds another variable. It’s too much stress. Yes, there are a few comics who can get away with these kinds of things, but most of them have one thing in common…they rig up the cues themselves. For example, Heath Hyche, who’s a very funny comic with props and sound cues, has a way of controlling things himself. He has a device that starts and stops his music that he controls during his show from the stage. Heath also has the benefit of being able to work great clubs now (he gets standing ovations all the time).
Every time I start what people call a “real job” which is currently teaching, I dread all of the paperwork and forms I have to fill out. Even going back to get certified seemed like such a bureaucratic mess. One of the things I love about stand-up is that in an email, I’m booked. I show up when I’m supposed to, perform, and get paid (occasionally there’s a tax form to fill out but that takes 30 seconds). So if you’re just starting out and debating on adding additional elements to your act…don’t. Maybe later on down the road when you’re making the jump to headliner you’ll have a better idea, but for now enjoy the luxury of not stressing about all of the extra things you would have to take care of.
Now, if we just didn’t have to drag around our merch…speaking of, order my book, Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage.