It’s summer, my focus has been on new material and another book so I’ve asked permission to post some advice from Rik Roberts. You may have seen his post in a few comic groups but it’s worth repeating… Rik and I first worked together in ’01 when he repeatedly BUIRED Pauly Shore. He’s a clean act and can please any crowd. Find him at www.rikroberts.com for more info. Rik writes:
I’ve been at this 20 plus years and have had a great time. Anytime I got off track it was usually because I lost focus. I found I was often guilty of asking the wrong questions. Usually, I only need to start focusing on the right result to rephrase the question. I hope these help anyone who may be caught up in the same situation.
“Ask this … not this.” Some food for thought for hungry comics.
Ask this: What makes that comic so bookable and in demand?
Not this: How come no one is hiring me or booking me for gigs?
Ask this: Do I work hard even when no one is looking?
Not this: Why does everyone else get all the breaks?
Ask this: Am I willing to dedicate 3-5 years of my life getting on stage everywhere I can to get this thing going?
Not this: Where are the good open mics?
Ask this: What can I offer an established comedian in return for some of their time and experience?
Not this: What comics can hook me up with gigs?
Ask this: How can I rewrite this bit to make it work more consistently?
Not this: Why don’t people get my jokes?
Start each day with a goal to create, relate or update and move that ball a little further down towards the goal. Success is eventual not an event!
Hope that provides a little motivation.
Thanks again, Rik! Those tips are very self-explanitory.
My other advice comes from my last three road gigs. One was a 4-night gig 3 hours away, one was a one-nighter 7 1/2 hours away, and the other was a one-nighter 2 1/2 hours away. You know what the most exciting story was from six nights on the road? I almost ran out of gas in Tulsa. In other words, the road isn’t that exciting and that’s fine. If you’re squeezing every last drop of potential happy-party-good-time out of the road, you’re losing focus and energy from your act. Maybe at 26 you can keep this up for a bit, but it will wear on you. The most common thing I hear about most comics after not seeing them for awhile is, “Wow, he/she looks terrible. What happened?” Very rarely do we note physical/mental (attitude) improvements in each other.
The other thing that laying low on the road allows is you actually accumulate some money. Clubs aren’t feeding us and giving us free drinks like they used to before ’08. Don’t waste half your pay on a bar tab. Yes, I may sound like your mother here, but odds are your broken relationship with her has something to do with why you’re a comic in the first place.
Yes, it’s okay to have fun on the road sometimes but don’t force it. You have a responsibility to give just as much energy to the Sunday night crowd as you did for the crowd on Thursday. Sleeping in until 3 p.m. isn’t what I’m suggesting either.
For other tricks and tips on how to survive the road…or just advice on how to get there, read Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage.