With gas prices rising to the point where it makes it hard to even break even on a comedy run (for opening acts), I thought I would show you how to cut some corners to help combat these financial hardships.
I booked a Tribble run about 5 years ago and told David I would need to bring my own feature, if I was going to make this work. I told him I wanted to bring someone from Minneapolis, as I was going to be up there the prior week and it is place with so many good comics. He offered up a few names and I chose a person I had heard good things about. I then called up this comic and asked if he wanted to do the run. He said yes. I then told him he had the choice of using his car and I would pay for 2 out of every 3 fill-ups or vice-versa. Considering the car we used was going to put a lot of miles on it, he said let’s use my car as his was not in great shape. So off we went.
Now, I should mention at this point that I don’t usually carpool with another comic. I’ve started to do it more as I’ve become a more established headliner allowed to bring my opener and it does help save money, but I actually like driving by myself. I have a satellite radio, I have a 160 GB IPod filled with music and podcasts, so I’m perfectly content catching on the alone time that my 3 young children don’t allow at home.
Only a few times have I driven with a comic who I didn’t know. To be in car with someone you are tight with can be difficult enough, so with a complete stranger you can imagine that is tough. Throw-in that on a Tribble run you are looking at driving upwards to 3000 miles and it can get a little stressful. I’m a nice guy, but as you can tell from here, I have my opinions and I have no qualms sharing them.
So the drive began from the Twin Cities and it was kind of like a first date. Fortunately, he seemed like a pretty good dude, so we got off to a pretty good start. Unfortunately, gas prices had spiked like they are now, so it was going to be really expensive. Now the past time this guy had done a Tribble run he had driven by himself, so he was saving some money this time, but I don’t think he was totally on board with the 2 out of 3 fill-up plan, even though he decided not to drive. I gathered this at our first fill-up when he bitched about how much gas was as he put the nozzle in and went into the convenience store.
When he came out he was carrying a bottle of pop and bag of beef jerky. As he got back in the car, I asked him if he was on vacation? He asked me why I said this. My response was that his beef jerky cost him double what it would have at a Wal-Mart and his pop was 4 times what it would have cost him if he had bought a case at a grocery store. I then went off on a rant about how if you want to make this your job, you need to cut costs. Now if comedy is just a hobby that you are going to do in addition to your main job, fine, treat it like you were on vacation, but if you want to do it full-time, bring your own shit.
I’m reading this and I realize I came off like a dick. I did say it with a joking manner, but you could deliver this rant like Brian Regan and you would still come off a little harsh. I just tire of watching young comics bitch about having no money, as watch them squander it all over the place. Here is the things I do to save money.
- I always bring a case of pop. Whenever I stop at a gas station or get fast food, I get a cup of ice. I have to save at least a 1000 dollars a year by doing this, as soft drinks are the number 1 profit product for these places.
- I bring my own snacks. I recommend bringing mixed nuts, as they are not messy, store well in a car, and are a lot healthier snack. Make your own trail mix if that isn’t flavorful enough. Some type of granola bars are another good, cheap snack.
- Since I already have soda, I don’t buy combo meals. I’m a big believer that fries are the worst thing you can put in your body. If Morgan Spurlock would have drank a diet soda with each of Super-sized meals and skipped the fries, the cheeseburgers wouldn’t have made the damage it inflicted on him. I suggest hit the dollar menu for a McDouble or a Buck Double. Buy 2 of these and you are only 2 dollars lighter in the pocket.
- Now you shouldn’t live on fast food alone, so once a week hit a buffet. This way you can slam some large quantities of protein and also get some vegetables and fruit. The very funny comic Brian Aldridge claims that the following is the best advice he has ever been given in comedy. He was opening for me and I told him I would treat him to brunch on Saturday. I told him we would go to a Ponderosa around 10:45. By going then, you could pay the cheaper breakfast price, grab some eggs and bacon, and then not wait long until the lunch food was shifted in. Now I”m not going to say eating like you are the host of Man vs Food is the way to go every day, but once a week it doesn’t hurt and you will be full pretty much the rest of the day.
- This one might be the toughest one for some. Don’t spend money on booze. This is pretty easy for me, since I don’t drink much, but I think it’s a good plan for all comics. Most gigs are going to let you have a few drinks free, so take them up on that. Don’t be ordering top shelf liquor, though, or you going to fuck it up for everyone. I’ve seen it happen too often where one comic drinks half a bottle of good scotch and no longer are comics drinking freely anymore. Now I know that drinking is part of chasing tail, so I realize that sometimes you are going to go out trying to relieve some of your lonely hotel existence, but just don’t do it too often. Buying a bunch of shots for some hottie you are trying to score with is as American as Cherry Pie, but when you are struggling to survive financially as an opening act, you don’t have the dough to make that work. If that is your number 1 goal, quit comedy and become a stockbroker, so you have enough money to go out every night and spend lavishly trying to forget the miserable life you have fleecing your clients.
If you want to make this your career, you have to be frugal. Always treat comedy as your job. Don’t treat any part of it as a vacation. When you have a chance to do something for a living that so many would love to do, you have to protect that opportunity. Being a broke-ass drunk, who is irresponsible won’t keep you getting opportunities. There are far too many others who are dying just to get a chance to replace you. And for fuck’s sake, don’t be buying 7 dollar bags of Jerky at the 7-11.