More lessons from the road in comedy. I would be more articulate with my opening, but I am assuming you read part 1. If not, read that first or shut up.
Locals/townies are quite the grab bag. I did a show once, where I was told, “If they like you, they’ll send up shots during your set.” I asked if there was a cab service in town. “No, but there’s a good back way to the hotel and there’s only one cop working.” Well, sounds foolproof! Give me shots! I had another show in an even smaller town in Pennsylvania where a small, drunk, older man told me, “You should have done more ni**er jokes.” Well, by more, that means I did one to begin with. I started explaining that failure in logic to him and began to insult him overall when a woman ran up. “I’m so sorry, he is racist when he drinks.” No, he’s racist all the time, he just talks about it when he drinks.
You’re not in Kansas anymore – actually, maybe you are and it may not be cool. Add to that the fact you’re probably outnumbered badly wherever you go and they usually pay you in cash, so keep that in the back of your head. I was on vacation once in West Virginia on a rafting trip and the guide told us, “You guys seem cool so I’ll warn you, don’t accept any invites to go to a bar with local girls, you’ll get robbed.” In other words, try to keep your cash fairly hidden, but I would still rather have cash than a check. Not that there’s much money in comedy anyway. I’m talking about it like you’re getting $4000 a show. “Here’s $25 and a rib bib from our sister bar, Smackey’s BBQ. You be safe out there – good show!”
On that note, you deserve to be paid. One comic told me after a show I was running, “I didn’t have a good set, I don’t want any money.” Well learn from it, you’re getting the money. I told you I would pay you and you filled the time. Think of all the great sets you had where you didn’t get paid. Take the money. To put it in perspective, I’ll leave you all with this story. When I first started, I got booked on a show to emcee. Unbeknownst to me, he booked nine comics on the show and told them all to do 20 minutes. Most of the comics were brand new or not actually comics. I had to oversee this train wreck and do time between every comic to bring the show back. He brought crock pots and was trying to sell $4 hot dogs and even brought his own bouncers to this bar…which had signs up telling people not to do drugs in the bathroom. I was mentally exhausted after the show, which ended up being almost 4 hours long. He had tried to offer me free beer from the bar originally, but I insisted on at least $50 (I’m a cruel and savvy negotiator).
After the show, I asked him for my money and he asked we go outside to the patio. “Um, yeah, so here’s the thing. I didn’t get a great door tonight, and here’s the thing, I couldn’t even pay my bouncers. So the thing is, I lost money on the food and the flyers. Um, so the thing is, I can’t pay you.” Warm rage filled down to my fingertips. I leaned into his personal space. “No, here’s the thing. You ran a shitty show and I need paid. I don’t care about your damn hot dogs.” I think I said more, but the anger was clouding over me. He changed his face from apologetic to smug. “Um…, it ain’t happening.” More tingling, warm rage. “You made two mistakes! One, you told me you didn’t pay your bouncers, so no one has your back. Two, you don’t fuck with a redneck!” (I don’t why I said that, but it felt good.) My two hands shot out like lightning and closed around his neck. He began flailing about and tried to break my grip. He quickly reached into his pocket with one hand while the other slapped against my forearms and handed me $50. I stormed out and as the adrenaline left me, I realized I better get in the car and get the hell out of the there. Get your money. Trust me, if you don’t deserve, you’ll quit getting booked eventually. Take what you’re owed. Oh and learn a good chokehold just in case.
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