If you haven’t noticed lately, your local standup comedian has been a little on edge. Unless they are some big named draw, there is a good chance these comics get to most of their gigs with an automobile. This week I’m doing a Wednesday through Saturday run of shows which has me in a different smaller Midwest city each night. The routing is actually really good, but it ends up with me being 12 hours away from home. I’m estimating I will spend around 300 dollars worth of gas to get around to these gigs. This is about 100 bucks more than I expected to pay when I booked this run 4 months ago. Not the booking agent’s fault, but it is getting to the point where I’m going to start turning down certain gigs because I can’t make the financial math work at these prices.
A comic friend was telling me about how his Mom had said he needs to start telling these booking agents that he needs to get some kind of fuel stipend. We both laughed when he relayed this. There is no shortage of comedians who will take the work when you turn it down. Now there might be a step-down in quality, but the booking agent has a financial bottom line, just like me, so they are going to make it work if I want to take it the offer or not. Just the financial realities of the business. This is why it becomes so important to have a car which gets good gas mileage.
When speaking to young comics, one of the first things I say is remember that your car is as important as your material in making this comedy thing work. If you don’t have reliable transportation, you will get blacklisted by a lot of agents, as no matter how good your reason, missing a gig makes you a risk no one wants to take a chance on. Ever since I started doing comedy, the road comic car of choice has been either a Corolla or a Civic. These cars get great gas mileage and also run for a long time.
I have cost myself a little money by driving a step up from these cars, but I did always have some Toyota, be it used Camry’s, a Celica, or a Matrix. They all got around 30 mpg, which definitely helps when you are putting 40 to 50 thousand mile per year on your ride. When my wife got pregnant for the 2nd time, I felt she would need a bigger car, so I traded in her car for a new Honda CRV. A month later at the ultraound we were given the news that we were having twins. Not good since the CRV does not fit 3 car seats in the back. It’s funny (well, not that funny) that your local automobile salesman doesn’t let you take back your new car and exchange it when something like this occurs. Since I didn’t want to lose 5000 bucks in a month by trading it in, I decided that this would be my new road car and my wife would get a used minivan. All of our dreams are basically shattered at this point.
Now, let me state that a Honda CRV is too nice to be a road car. It gets decent gas mileage (26-28 hwy), but that is a few miles less than optimal. About a year into it a rock hit the windshield and it cracked all the way across. Now to most people they would have went right out and gotten it fixed. I didn’t fix the windshield because every time I looked out through the cracked windshield, the view was the one I felt I should be looking out at. I know this sounds crazy, but I like metaphors.
After a couple of years, my Mom got tired of thinking I had this cracked windshield on an otherwise nice vehicle, so she paid for someone to come out and replace it for my birthday. I appreciated it, because I wasn’t looking forward to spending the 300 bucks to do it myself. Just 6 months later, the windshield cracked again, so I’m back to my old view and I’m comfortable with it. When I’m spending 3.65 a gallon, the last thing I’m going to do is re-fix a cosmetic blemish. As a road comic, my CRV with a cracked windshield is like dating a really hot girl with a messed up tooth. It gives her some character. The current state of my CRV is like I’m dating Jewel. I have no problem spending time inside my Jewel.
RELATED SCOTT TIP
When you are giving your pitch at the end selling your merchandise, don’t mention how much extra you are paying at the pump. I know you are offering this up to gain sympathy for you making less money at the gig, but it is my belief you are damaging your chances of selling. You see, you are not the only one who is losing money every time at the pump. Don’t be such a fucking narcissist. And yes, I realize me throwing out a don’t be such a fucking narcissist could come off a little hypocritical considering I’m a guy writing a blog about himself which features a photo of myself on top of it each day. I have no defense for this one, but I’m telling you I think you are doing damage to your sales opportunities by mentioning the extra financial hardships we are all suffering.