I have seen a couple articles recently about comedy on the road, so I thought I would shed some light. I don’t do nearly as much as I used to with a family now, but for about four years I hit it pretty hard. Here’s some insights.
Most comedy venues put you up in a hotel. Their goal is to put the room within their budget, so they usually strike up a deal with a local venue for a good price. This means about 40% of the time, you’re staying in an absolute shithole. I’ve stayed in rooms where there were fresh makeup stains on the pillow, the carpet was a version of that putt putt green stuff you see on boats, and a motel where a drug couple had their pit bulls tied up in front of their room to keep people away. My goofy golden retriever almost got eaten by wandering too close. Even worse, sometimes they decide you’re cool with staying with the other comic, which I bet is fun for female comics. I’ve been put in a room with two other comics (I paid for my own room) and once the bar forgot to book a room on the little town’s busiest weekend of the year. I had to drive 18 miles in the wrong direction and share a bed with a grown man. I built a wall of pillows between us like the Mongolians were attacking.
You learn to fight back. I had a hotel once tell me, as the feature contracted to do 25-35 minutes that the show was supposed to run two and a half hours. I told them that was incorrect and offered to get the email, but they didn’t care. They insisted, so I did over 50 minutes. The headliner went up, did 45 and got paid more than twice what I did. Another show the headliner went to the wrong city, so I had to “fill” the time until he showed up. Rather than delay the show 15 minutes, I had to do an hour and 15 minutes with almost no prep time. The last 20 or so minutes I was literally telling stories from college and even asked if anyone wanted to come up and sing. When the idiot finally showed up, I passed the mic off. You know what I got for my heroism? The same pay and five free beers. I learned pretty quickly what doing favors gets you – nothing. Except for sometimes five beers, which actually is pretty cool normally, just not I’m dying in front of 45 strangers for 20 minutes cool.
Car problems. Don’t ever underestimate you are driving yourself to the gig the day of. This means your whole weekend is usually shot and God forbid you have a shitty car, like 98% of all comedians. I’ve had a battery die on me, got a speeding ticket that exceeded my show pay and got stuck in the snow by myself in Sault Ste. Marie. I had to cram an old shirt under the tire to make it and perform at an Indian casino with no stage in a cafeteria for 15 people. It was a pretty hot venue – Bubba Sparxx was there the next week, so you know it was happening. I’d rather be a backup dancer for Ms. New Booty than tell jokes again in a cafeteria.
That’s a start, maybe I’ll do part 2 later this week, but I’m having flashbacks of awful shows and I need a break and perhaps a therapist.
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