I don’t moralize with others personal lives, but I can sound a bit sanctimonious when it comes to doing the right thing as a standup comedian. I have never missed a gig and I’ve never even been late to a gig. A couple of times I’ve gotten very lost (before GPS) and got to the show while the opening act was on-stage. When I knew I wasn’t going to make it 15 minutes before showtime, I called my contact and profusely apologized and assuring that I would be there in plenty of time before I was to hit the stage. A couple of times I have made a booking agent upset because I chose not to play their club because I was already playing another agent’s club in the market, but not much I could do in this situation. Only once have I gotten a call from a booking agent saying I should be at a gig when I wasn’t, but he later admitted that he was the one who had messed up. Only a couple of times have I canceled a gig because I was offered a substantially larger payday from someone else and when this has happened, I gave the agent over a month’s notice and sent them a check for 50 bucks for their trouble. There has been times that I’ve turned down a great gig when I didn’t feel like I was giving the other agent enough time to replace me. Those hurt the pocket book, but in my codebook, it’s the right thing to do.
Last week I had a booking agent send out a confirmation email for gigs I was to do for them next week. I had a sinking feeling when I saw the dates, as I was already booked with another agent for a 3 shows the same week. These same gigs I did have on my calendar, for March. I had booked them in March since I already had a special event on March 4th in Michigan, so I wanted to have a couple other dates surround it to help with the routing. (3rd and 5th) What made this more possible was that February has 28 days, so you could book something on Thursday, March 3 and it could be put just as easily in on Thursday, February 3. This kind of February fluke can create a honest mistake, but still doesn’t make it easier for anyone involved.
Now I think I was clear in the dates I initially was trying to book with the agents, but I might have been the one at fault. Where I was 100% at fault was not looking at the itinerary more closely, when it was initially sent out a few months back. That one is on me. I felt like shit about having to tell the agent I couldn’t do these gigs, but I had booked the other dates even earlier and this was a comedy club which I play on an annual basis, a club where I have a small fanbase and a club where they have had promotional materials in the media and online advertising me for the past month. So I told him I was really sorry and said I would do whatever I could to help him with the misunderstanding. I still feel like crap about this, though, because this agent has been nothing but professional with me and I really like him as a person. I know he had to go to extra work to find another comic to do these 2 different gigs and also rush-deliver their promo. I hope it doesn’t impact our relationship, as I have no track record of doing something like this. Definitely one of the most difficult things about doing standup comedy is you are in a different place every week and sometimes a different place every night. Making sure you don’t double-book or forget to put a date down is paramount to keeping a good reputation in the business. Being reliable is more than just being funny on-stage. It sucks when the business part of the job takes precedent over the talent part, but don’t think it doesn’t count.