In a few weeks I’ll hit my 14th comedy birthday so I thought I’d reflect on some of the not-so-great things that I’ve had happen. (If I just went over my best moments that would be a little obnoxious.) As mentioned before, my book Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage has been labeled pessimistic by a few people. None of these readers were actual professional working comedians. So if you’re going to try comedy as a profession here are some things you can look forward to overcoming…
1. Your friends show up to a terrible show… They finally made it! After twenty previous “Let me know next time you’re performing!” statements they actually followed through. Sure you comped their tickets, they were late, and it took multiple texts and phone calls before they understood how to be an adult, but they’re finally there to see you. Aaaand, it’s not your best show. The crowd is half empty, you have to go up first, and things just aren’t hitting. Get ready for an awkward post-show conversation where they put on their best acting chops and tell you they thought you were funny. After they leave you get to picture their car ride home where they all discuss your poor life decision. Meanwhile, you’re killing it at the 10:00 show they didn’t stick around for.
2. The famous headliner you worship and get to open for cancels… The booking felt too good to be true. Four nights with someone you’ve looked up to since you even considered doing comedy years ago. You’ll be best friends by Sunday night! You promote it on Twitter and Facebook for weeks, maybe even months. You have that girl you want to impress on your guest list and then 5:00 the day of…the big name cancels…as does the group of 30 who was going to attend the first show Saturday…and the rest of the crowd. Looks like your profile pic is going to have to stay set as you and your dog for two more months. Back in 2003ish I was supposed to open for Jim Gaffigan in Columbus. Obviously he wasn’t as famous as he is now but it was still a big deal. He canceled the week for a set on Letterman or Leno.
3. Sold out show, great set…no merch sales? You just had the set of your life in a packed house. It’s Friday and most of the crowd just cashed their paycheck a few hours ago. They actually applaud your sales pitch for your merch that you’re going to sell after the show. You run back to your car and get more stock while the headliner is up because the box you have right now might not be enough. The headliner isn’t even selling merch so you’re the only market in the lobby! …Fifteen minutes later as the crowd clears you’re standing by an undisturbed table wondering what the hell happened. (April 2012 Crackers in downtown Indy)
4. Sorry man but… (the game’s on, chilifest is happening downtown, we were packed last week)… You returned to one of your favorite one-nighters where you had a wonderful show last year. You can always count on a filled room. You sold three dozen t-shirts last time and killed it but as you pull into the parking lot, you realize that you’re in the front row of cars. No one is there because the bar got lazy and didn’t promote the show. Yes, sometimes it’s for one of the above reasons but those are usually just excuses. You realize that the bar hasn’t updated any of its decor in nine years (Is that a neon Zima sign?) so of course they can’t hang up a poster letting people know you’re coming.
5. I didn’t hit record… Did you know that if you have your Square App plugged into your phone the microphone doesn’t pick up sound? Ever accidentally click the night vision option on your old camcorder back in they day when recording a set? …The same camcorder whose battery dies in eight minutes if you leave the tiny video monitor flipped open? Or maybe you just didn’t click the right button…”I swear I saw the red light on!” Or hell, maybe you did record the set from a device right next to the chattiest table in the room. I’ve had many sets I’d be proud to put on an album to sell…Of course none of them were recorded correctly or at all. Something will inevitably go wrong. What’s that? Have a professional come in a record it? That’ll pretty much guarantee #4 will happen.
For other great reasons to try this ridiculous profession read Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage.
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