Reputations are established fairly early in a comic’s career. Sometimes they don’t even have anything to do with how funny the comic is on stage. It can be something else like drinking too much, always requesting a pay advance from a club, or chasing ass after a show. One of the most important things is reliability. Not making it to a gig can doom you in a booker’s mind for years. If they hear more than one instance of this, you’re done getting work from that booker.
One of the biggest decisions a comic must make is whether or not they can finally quit their full-time job (or well-paying part-time job) to make comedy their only source of income. Sure it’s important if you’re funny enough, but can you make it everywhere? Do not attempt to become a road comic if you don’t have a reliable vehicle. Needing a ride somewhere is crippling because once you’re known for that, comics will stop answering your calls. (Yes, we bust the chops of one of our locals because he’s so young he doesn’t have a drivers license yet, but he’s getting there with his permit.) If you’re asking favors of other comics, you’re now responsible for making it up to them. What if they aren’t funny but they ask you for a recommendation to a booker? “Yeah, I know you drove me to four gigs last years, but I’m not telling Eric Yoder you’re funny!”
In Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage I mention when I relied on my girlfriend at the time to drive me from Columbus to Dayton for a gig. HUGE mistake. She was over a half hour late and then got in an accident in Columbus rush hour. We made my set by two minutes. You cannot afford to put your career in someone else’s hands ever.
So if you have a goal date for quitting that job and making the plunge into
even more poverty full-time comedy, bump it back to whenever you can afford a better car. It could be another 6-9 months, but it’s worth it.
*This post inspired by the check engine light I was greeted with this morning. I have to drive over 400 miles to Chattanooga in two days so my Civic is at the shop. Please buy a book on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, iTunes, or any other format so that I can pay for the repairs. Thanks!