As I outlined in the previous piece, New Year’s Eve is an important financial night for comics. It’s almost like the comedy boom (before I started) when there were more gigs than there were good comics. It’s a money grab night more than a artistic opportunity. Too much of the time even really great comics make pretty shitty money, so when you have to be aggressive about taking the money and running when you get a chance.
So this year it’s October and I have nothing on the books yet. This might be a good place to mention that agents seem to book one of two ways. They book things 4-6 months out or they book things a month or less out. I had been offered one thing that fit the money figure I was looking for, but it entailed me doing a whole week and featuring. I turned down this opportunity for a few weeks, but by the end of October I decided to take it, as I didn’t want to risk getting shut-out on NYE.
The deal was for me to headline a one-nighter and then feature the club for the week, staying around through Monday to do NYE’s. The money was very fair for a feature week, but I was making not much more than what I had usually made on just NYE’s. I also admit, I wasn’t crazy about featuring and it wasn’t because of my ego. After a decade of headlining I am tough to follow. Also, it’s a little weird for me to not be the center of attention. OK, I guess it was all about my ego.
Before I bit, I looked up the comedian who would be headlining. I wasn’t about to feature some comic I thought was inferior or who I couldn’t stand. The headliner was Andrew Kennedy, who I didn’t know much about. I figured that I would do my thing and I would walk off the stage thinking, “top this, motherfucker”, as I walked past him. More ego-insanity, huh?
A month later the booking agent calls me and says he has some bad news. The one-nighter fell-out. He is standup guy and said if you want to cancel–you can. I told him I would get back with him later that day. Unfortunately the week before I had been offered a great NYE gig, but didn’t cancel, because I was already booked. Another problem with this change in Latitude was that I had already bought a plane ticket and it was to the one-nighter city. The extra hotel and rental car issues were going to kill my bottom line, but at least I had been wise enough to buy trip insurance, so I could cancel the flight. I checked new flights and they were 150 more at this point, so that was a bottom line killer, too. So I cancelled the flight and with gas being low, I decided to keep the week and drive 14 hours to get there. The agent was appreciative that I kept the gig.
So the first show is Thursday and I felt like if the judges were scoring it, I won the first night between the 2 comics. At that point I was thinking, well, I will be keeping my heavyweight standup crown through NYE. Well, guess what, the rest of the week, Andrew stepped up his game and I thought he had the better set every other show. He does amazing character voices and his story of being part English/part Columbian really connected with the Florida audience. I did well and most nights it was close, but overall the show was really fucking strong. It also helped that Andrew is a good dude who has a similar life in that he’s been married for a long-time and has a couple kids. How 2 great looking guys like us have managed that is remarkable, but I guess it’s our modest nature.
The new club in Jacksonville had it’s best week so far and the owner is a great guy who is passionate about the business. It’s an uphill climb opening a club, but he has the work ethic and vision to give it a strong go. New Year’s Eve was a sell-out and even though there was some small snafus which happen almost every NYE, people walked out of there having a great time. Well except for this old-timer…
My guess was the guy was in his late 70’s/early 80’s and the night was a little much for him. It was the first show I’ve been part of where EMT’s came in before the end of the show, but I told you, it was a strong fucking show. Andrew finished 15 minutes before midnight and then the countdown happened. I grabbed a glass of champagne and sat with my smartphone–which is the high tech version of a kiss at Midnight. I then go paid and drove back to my Hampton Inn and watched the ball drop for the Central Time Zone. I have heard a few comics say NYE is the loneliest night of the year and I have a hard time disagreeing with that sentiment. Such is the glamorous life of entertainment.
So the next day I got up very early and made my nearly 1000 mile drive back home. I hadn’t seen my family in a week and I was going to have to leave the next day for my next tour, so wanted to be able to tuck my crew in bed that night. I drove in a steady rain for 6 hours and ended up setting my all-time record of going through 8 states in 1 day. From Jacksonville to Savannah to Columbia to Asheville to Knoxville to Lexington to Cincy to Indy. I’ve been everywhere…man. So the next time you hear some athlete complain about the travel in their chartered jet, send them this link, PLEASE.