Career Concern

Tuesday July 26th, 2011 – Kenosha, WI

I like to be positive whenever I can, but I have to say I’m not optimistic about the future of comedy as not only I see it, but my peers too. I’m in an extraordinarily difficult spot as far as career goes, and I‘m not alone. It’s a hard enough road being an entertainer, but the business as I’ve come to know it for over a quarter of a century is shriveling up. And fast.

Like a lot of industries, it just isn’t what it was and the prospects of it coming back are getting slimmer by the minute. I feel like the guy (and I know there’s at least one around) who’s sitting on a warehouse full of leisure suits, or his partner who’s got another full of parachute pants. Both may hope those items make a comeback, but it’s highly doubtful.

I got a call from Nick Gaza today. Nick is a funny comic from Indiana right around my age who recently moved back to the Midwest after slugging it out for many years in Los Angeles. He’s from my comedy generation, and we exchanged tales of how it‘s changed.

It used to be a small percentage of people made livings as comedians. It was a whole lot less when we started, and our generation had a few years of a boom before it was infested with hacks, idiots and wannabes which caused it to come crashing down in the early ‘90s.

Then it kind of built back up again, but not to that fever pitch it was in the golden years of the magical ‘80s. During that time, there was a mass exodus of comics who moved to L.A. in hopes of hitting the jackpot. Many did, as development deal money seemed to get handed out like Halloween candy. A good many road dogs got a taste of major moolah.

They were making sitcoms then, and standup comics were the hot thing. I’m sure actual actors weren’t too thrilled about that, but that’s how it went. A lot of those people weren’t heard from again, even though they’d managed to haul in a nice chunk of coin for a while.

Nick and I are from that generation, but never got close to that windfall. He was in L.A. trying to get seen, and I was farting around doing radio, road gigs and trying to stay out of prison while being accused of a bank robbery I didn’t do. I never got my shot at any deals.

Now, all that is ancient history. Reality TV is what’s being cranked out like rabbit turds in a pet store, and comics aren’t the darlings we once were, either in Hollywood or on the road. Most towns are infested with an overabundance of delusional pinheads who actually think they’re professional comedians because they made ten bucks opening for karaoke.

Journeyman performers who’ve earned their stripes have a much harder time squeezing a living out of the road because the local clubs quite often exchange quality for not having to pay for motel rooms for competent acts. I’m feeling that pinch big time, and so is Nick.

So are a lot of others from my generation and even previous ones too. It was never easy to be a good act and survive the road life, but now it’s really getting rough. There are way too many bad acts and even more halfwits who hire them, and the good acts suffer for it.

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