I try to do one out of town week each year as a feature act, so I can hang out with a friend and work on new material at the same time. Working on new material is much easier as a feature act, as I don’t feel the pressure of killing the whole time on-stage. Being in the middle is the sweet spot of the show, as the audience laughter is generally at its peak, plus you don’t get the dreaded check drop. (The sweet spot after the show is being the headliner, though, as you make a lot more money:)
This year’s feature week for me will be at the Funny Bone on the Levee in Newport, Ky (outside of Cincy) I’m looking forward to it because I get to work with my great friend, Dan Cummins. I haven’t done a week with Dan since I first met him when he opened for me on a Tribble run over 10 years ago. At the time, he had not being doing comedy very long and his best material were songs he did while playing the guitar and a character he had named Pastor Terry. I thought he had lots of potential, but he has blown up since then, as he is one of the most prolific writers in the biz. He also has one of the most original voices as a standup.
I feel I have good instincts about standups. The half dozen comics I’ve touted to management types I know have all had success. This isn’t to say all my instincts are always great, though. When Dan told me he was going to stop playing the guitar, I thought he was making a mistake. I thought Dan could be a guitar act on the scale of Stephen Lynch, as his dark, catchy songs were so much different than your typical guitar comedian. Well, he ignored my advice (and I think his manager at the time, too) and he ended up taking his comedy to whole different level. The thing I respect most about Dan as a comic is how he has changed his comedic direction a few times and has come up with a great new headliner set. I feel my show has evolved into different places a few times in my career, but nothing on the level of Dan Cummins. You should check his calendar and catch his show sometime, as he is one of the best. This week would be a great time to do it.