For the past couple of weeks I’ve been lamenting losing 2 weeks of work, after being bumped at comedy clubs for Tim Meadows. A little known fact is that unless you are a big draw act, you play without a contract. You are booked, but if the club/booker can find someone they think can make them more money, you are kicked to the curb. It’s not done with malice, it’s just the way the standup world works.
I made a video with help from my twins to poke fun at the whole situation.
If you didn’t watch the video, let me restate I’m not blaming anyone and I like Tim Meadows, but it was a major hit to my bank account. A few people joked to make me feel better that Tim Meadows had really fallen on hard times to have to do these type gigs. I got the sentiment, but it just felt like a shot, as I’m happy to do his hard times type gigs and would be ecstatic if I was paid as much as I’m sure he was getting.
I scrambled last minute to find something to fill these openings, but all I could manage was consecutive Saturday nights in small towns in the Midwest. The first scramble was close to my house and was the beginning of a make good from the booking agent who had to bump me for that week. That is all I can ask for in a situation like this.
It was the 4th time they had done a show at this place and it had averaged over 100 people, so I was hoping with merch I could come out close to even for the week I had just lost. Well, this night they sold 35 tickets. A few factors were weighed in on this deal, with the killer being it was a beautiful night outside and it was Mother’s Day the following day.
The first couple comics on the bill are excellent acts. I’m telling you this was a bill you could have seen at a good comedy club. The problem they had was the sound wasn’t working right and there was poor lighting and no stage. They did fine, but not to the level they usually do. I had noted these things, but still wasn’t connecting any better during the first 5 minutes, so I decided to go into the middle of the room and do my show from there. It kind of became like a show in the round, as I continually rotated myself. I was truly a man of the people and made it 1 big circus. This definitely did the trick, I hurt this group. Every once in awhile I get to brag on myself here, especially when I am doing a show with bad sound and lighting, while playing a small-town one-nighter after being bumped from a club. The only negative was that since it was a small audience, my merch sales were less than half of what I was hoping for. But I am choosing to be positive here. Think about 2 weeks ago on Saturday night. Was your night memorable? Mine was.
So the second week of my Meadows bumps found me rolling the dice on a gig over 4 hours from my house in Michigan. I decided to take it mainly because I had a streak of not having a week-off since last summer. Now it was kind of like if Cal Ripken had to play a game in Flint to keep his streak alive, but I was still swinging the bat.
I am tired from driving when I show up to the Eagles Lodge I would be performing at. I will admit I was not excited about this show. The room was pretty full, but at this point I wished I was still at home with my family…BUT THE SHOW MUST GO ON! The opener gets up and is a good performer with a lot of energy, but he is green and his material is lacking at this point. 15 minute act trying to do 30 minutes. The audience is starting to stir until the last 5 minutes when he brings out some good sex jokes and the people are back on board.
I hit the stage and I decide I’m going to try to perk not only them up–but me–as I thought by going out into the crowd and riffing on whatever presented me would energize the place. It worked like a charm. I have spent most of the past decade trying different stage elements and material that I felt would be hurt by riffing off the crowd too much with. I’ve got the new act down now, though, so I’m incorporating more of the audience improv again at the start of my shows and it’s been really fun. It is a big part of what makes live standup so much better than watching it on youtube or comedy central. I’m back motherfuckers!
So all the improv with the audience works magically and then I go into my material which is focused on having a child with special needs. That hits home hard, too. And if the show hadn’t of already been great, afterwards, a number of people came up to me telling me how much my message/comedy about people with special needs really impacted them. I heard a number of stories about family members and friends who have people with developmental disabilities and how they loved what I said onstage. I’ve been getting this more and more and it’s the best feedback I’ve ever gotten in my career. Oh and if you were wondering, I sold a lot of merch, which got me halfway back to what I lost for the week.
- Lost 2 higher-paying weeks to Tim Meadows. Flukey, but it sucks all the same.
- Booked 2 shows which were both kind of wild, but fun.
This is the up and down life of a working standup comic. Now if anyone has a lead on a paid show(s) for this week, get with me. The streak must not be broken!