Some days are traditionally the best day of your biz’s year for making money. Obviously for retailers it’s Black Friday. If you are a stripper I’m guessing it’s whenever Motley Crue is in town. In standup, it’s New Year’s Eve.
One thing you need to know about performing on NYE is that it’s different than any other night of the year. People really want and expect to have a good time. They are generally paying more to see the show, so that is part of the expectation. Many of these people come to a comedy club just once a year, so NYE is like Easter for lapsed Christians. The audience is revved up and often really drunk. All these factors don’t make them a great comedy club audience. You have to have a strong stage presence and higher energy to succeed.
The worst thing that can happen is for the venue to pass out noise makers before the comic is off-stage. I learned this the hard way, as my first NYE gig people kept blowing them, which isn’t the best thing for timing. From that point on I have made sure the patrons are not given noisemakers until after the show. A couple years ago, one of the audience members brought his own. I mentioned to him that if you blow it again, I will rip it out of your hands and by the time I get done you will be able to demonstrate how well-designed it is to blow-out your ass. That seemed to do the trick. No more noise.
For 7 years I did the Indianapolis Hyatt NYE event, which is the largest one of its kind in Indiana. It was a great gig, as I got paid really well and I got to stay at home. Having said that, it was not an easy gig. I was the only comic, so there was no warm-up act. I was in my own ballroom and I would just walk-up onstage and start the show. I got to do that 3 times in one night.
One year, the floor above had a pipe burst, so it was leaking all over that area of the hotel. This also set off the fire alarm which automatically caused the speaker overhead to warn, Please Leave the Hotel. Please Leave the Hotel. Please Leave the Hotel. This went on in the middle of my show, so kind of hard to keep the audience involved when this repeated in a loop every 30 seconds. After a couple minutes I stopped my show, apologized to the people, and gave out free DVD’s of my show to everyone who wanted one.
The following year the sound system was messed up, so I projected my voice which worked well. The only problem with this was that I did three 45 minute sets, so my voice was ragged for the next month. Then I went in and discovered that I had polyps on my vocal cords and had to have surgery on them. It ended up costing me more than what I made that NYE. 2 years in row I had busted pipes, one above head and one inside my throat. Then the Hyatt decided to not have standup comedy anymore, so for the past 3 years I’ve done different places. The gigs have been farther away, but I still made my nut.
This year I was in the South Bend area and did a Friday and Saturday night show at Laugh Comedy Club. Sold-out on Friday and oversold out on Saturday, but the shows went well. There were some glitches with the night, but I always think first of the audience, so I did my best to turn that around. As you can guess, I was awesome, so give it up for me. My New Year’s resolution is to continue to be fucking great, just like in 2011!