Three Times A Night

Saturday February 13th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Zanies in Chicago is one of the few comedy clubs left that do three shows on a Saturday night. I’ve talked before of how difficult that is, and it is. But I love it. It can be a grueling experience, especially as the headliner. Forty-five minutes of solid standup comedy is one of the most difficult tasks I can think of to do ONCE, much less three times in one night.

When I started, three shows on a Saturday was pretty standard. A few clubs tried it on a Friday too, and if I remember correctly even Zanies did for a while. That’s a lot of shows, but back then comedy was red hot and they could pack them in like sardines so why not?

I’ve read stories where vaudeville performers would have to do six shows a day. I don’t know if that was every day or just Saturday, but that’s still a lot of work for one day. They had a lot shorter time to do, but they still had to stay around the theatre and be ready to go on when it was their turn. Those people really worked hard. It wasn’t a glorious existence.

I’ve always been of the mentality that if I’m going to work, I want to WORK. I’d prefer that all clubs did three shows on a Saturday, and if we could fill it, let’s do Friday as well. There was a club called The Funny Firm in Chicago during the boom years and they ran a brutal schedule every week. They had two shows on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Friday and Saturday had three, and I think they also ran one on Tuesday. Monday was a new talent showcase night so I won’t count that, but all together that’s still 13 shows for a week which is unheard of today. Most people now are happy to get 13 shows in a month.

I was ready for my marathon tonight, and that’s exactly what it is. I’m very physical and jump around a lot on stage, and after forty-five minutes I’m usually soaking with sweat to show for all my effort. The lights can be very hot, but my bouncing around like a jumping bean also adds to it. I definitely work when I’m on stage and when I’m done I’m spent.

Another thing I have to be careful of is how I move my material around. It’s not hard to confuse the shows and not be sure what material I did for what audience. I happen to have a ton of material, and sometimes I’ll bring out an old bit or switch order on the fly and for three show nights that can really put me in the trick bag if I’m not paying close attention.

Tonight was a dream night for many reasons. First, all three shows were totally sold out to the last seat. It was Valentine’s Day weekend and even if it wasn’t me that drew I don’t mind at all. People were in seats, and they paid top dollar to be there. I gave them a show. It’s funny how it works, but the more people pay, the more they pay attention to the show.

The openers were great guys and easy to work with too. Pat McGann is a fresh face that has a really bright future. He’s smart and funny and knows how to network. He’s doing a lot of things right, and he did a fine job as host. Fritz was the feature and he has a style on stage that’s very laid back and low key. It’s a perfect fit for me because then I go up there and blow the dust out of the speakers. Everything fell together and it was a fantastic night.

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