Pleasurable Business

Saturday September 24th, 2011 – Chicago, IL

This is a very solid week of shows at Zanies on multiple levels. Audiences have been at full or near full capacity for the most part, and the on stage talent lineup is a healthy blend of styles that not only fit together for a quality show – we also get along off stage as well.

That’s getting rarer in comedy unfortunately, and we all acknowledged it. All too often at least one of the comedians on a show either don’t fit into the on stage mix or are a pain in the ass to deal with in other areas like consistently going long or stepping on premises.

Audiences don’t realize that most comedy clubs are booked haphazardly and there’s no rhyme or reason as to why certain acts are on the same bill for any given show. Usually it boils down to random chance of who happens to call or email the booker at a certain time, and that’s a recipe for disaster. There’s a delicate chemistry that makes or breaks a show.

There used to be at least a little thought put into it by most bookers, but then the internet came along and changed the game for the worst. Now, most of them treat it like a contest on the radio where the sixth emailer gets the gig and they’re matched up totally at random with another act who sent another email for a different spot on the show. It’s ridiculous.

I’ve gotten some insane bookings through the years that have made me scratch my head in disbelief as to why a person who knew even the least little bit about live entertainment would put me on a show with some of the acts I’ve been paired with. They haven’t a clue as to how to construct shows properly, yet they’re responsible for the livelihoods of many.

When I was an opening act, I wasn’t hard to follow because I made a conscious effort to avoid stepping on premises of the headliners whenever I could, and I also knew to keep it clean. That seems to be a lost art now, and all too often I have to dig myself out of a giant hole after one or both opening acts take an audience into the gutter and leave them there.

Not this week. The host is a guy named Tim Benker and I’ve known him for at least 25 years. Zanies uses veteran acts as ‘house emcees’ and it makes for a much better show on so many levels. The host slot is very important, and it usually gets filled by a total newbie who has no idea how to run a show and it’s over before it starts. Tim knows how to do it.

Plus, we’ve also been riding together all week and that helps save big money on parking and gas. Little things like that all add up to a fun week onstage and off, and that’s exactly what this has been. If more road weeks were like this, and they used to be, comedy would be a lot better off. Too many idiots and inexperienced greenhorns have watered it down.

The feature act this week is a young lady named Cameron Esposito. She’s 29, and has a great work ethic onstage and off. She’s quite talented and markets herself way better than I ever did at that age, and I respect her very much. Our acts are very different and make for a nice flow. The booker Bert Haas said he was proud of himself for putting the three of us on this show and he should be. We all had three solid shows tonight – and a lot of fun too.


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