I try to be as honest as possible about the standup biz here, but I’m not stupid honest. I don’t trash booking agents or their gigs, specifically. It is hard enough to make this a profession, without adding burning bridges, on top of it. Today I’m not going to be specific about where this gig is that I did a few weeks back, but I am going to tell you why I won’t go back to it.
Background: I picked up this gig on a Saturday night, as the routing was good. It was basically about 20 miles off the interstate I was driving back to home on after doing a great paying gig the night before. It was a small-town, so I wasn’t expecting much. Kind of a pit-stop, tell some jokes, and then drive the rest of the way home, afterward. Well, when I get there I see the place is packed. I quickly discovered that the kitchen was almost an hour behind on food orders, which was important since most of the tickets were sold as a comedy/dinner package. The people were not happy.
Well, since the food was so far behind, they decided to delay the show by 30 minutes. Not a great thing since I was driving home, but it isn’t my call, so I waited. The patrons were obviously not in a great mood, but the opening act did a good job of getting their minds off their troubles. I ordered some food, since I had to wait an extra 30 minutes.
Not a great set-up, as the waitress would walk right in front of you and there was no stage. Didn’t make a big difference, as I played off of these problems and rocked the house. Had a great show and sold a ton of DVD’s. While selling stuff, the owner came over and wanted to get some merchandise. Usually I would sell my stuff at cost to the owner, but since I had completely saved her ass, I asked full price. She said to me, well I thought we were barter since you ate on the house.
This type of short-sighted cheap-ass behavior is the reason I will never go back to this joint. They fucked up the whole night by not planning properly in the kitchen, including not defrosting the chicken that was on the menu, which put their orders so far behind. I (with the help of the opening act) did a great show which had people excited about the next show despite their ineptitude. And to show their gratitude they acted like they were doing me a big favor.
Now I worked in bars and restaurants for 7 years and I am big on touting the staff. I know how important tips are for someone making $2.22 an hour. It is strange to me with this being the case, that I have had only 2 bar owners ever pay me more than the money I was contracted to make. You would think if someone did a great job and made your customers excited about coming back, you might want to throw them an extra 20 bucks or more, so they would be more apt to come back.
Well this gig I have outlined above was below my ability level. Only reason I took it last minute was because it was great routing and I had a hole in my schedule. I know this sounds egotistical, but I seriously doubt anyone else they have will do as well as I did that night. Considering the obstacles they set up to make my job harder makes it even more remarkable. (I know, I sound completely full of myself. Well, I’ve written here about shows that didn’t go well, too.) For this owner to expect free shit from me after the show made me ill. And for her to pull this shit with me after making a ton of money on a packed house made me even more pissed. I told her fine, take the merch. And the looked right past her to ask the next person standing behind her, “Can I help you with something?” Never talked to the owner again, since I had already been paid. Left soon after I hope I never see them again. I know it is not a big deal in her life, but considering I have to make enough compromises in this biz, I’m not about to help this fucker out again.
I try to do the best show I can, no matter what I get paid or what is the situation. It’s called be a professional. Too bad that a few people who run clubs or bars treat their talent like shit. I wish I could say it catches up with them, but I’ve seen beautiful comedy clubs built on the backs of comics who were underpaid. I try not to help these sleazebags. I know that there is never a shortage of comics who will take just about any gig, I just hope that this place never has a show as good, ever again.