Dues Paid Off

Thursday December 22nd, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I’ve got some work this week and I’m delighted to get it. Last night I was in Decatur, IL at a sports bar in what used to be a Holiday Inn Convention Center. That gig has trickled down through several booking agents over the years, but it’s usually not horrible and I’m glad it’s still going on. It’s always nice to pick up a few low pressure week night dollars.

I chose to drive home instead of staying over and having a long drive this morning. It’s exactly 225 miles door to door, and whatever thrill there might be in staying in hotels has long faded. Even though it’s a nice place, it was nicer to get on the road and start driving. The show was over by 9:30, so I was able to get home by 2am. I made the right choice.

Tomorrow night I’m in Springfield, IL at a club called Donnie B’s. I’ve never worked it but I’ve heard positive things. I also get a chance to see my friend Max, so no matter how the gig turns out I’ll be fine. I don’t anticipate any problems, and I also hear the owner has a club in Bloomington, IL. I wouldn’t mind working there either, to add to my club list.

This is a constant process in the comedy world, and I need to greatly improve my tactics and come up with a battle plan in 2012. I want to stay closer to home, and places like this are exactly the gigs I’m looking for to stay sharp. I’m not going to get rich, but that’s not the issue. The objective is to have enough places close by to maintain my comedy chops.

I’m a solid headliner now, and do especially well in the Midwest region. I would put my show up there with almost all headliners working the road, just because I’ve got so much experience. I’m right at the correct ripeness to be plucked for bigger things, but for now a chance to keep money coming in is important. I’ll give Donnie B. more than he pays for.

That’s not a problem, because my first few years on the road I was stealing money from the club owners then. I was green, inexperienced and absolutely horrible. Every performer is bad in the beginning, it’s part of the process. At first we steal money, then they manage to take it back over and over again forever after. Welcome to the world of show business.

I’m fine with where I am now though. I know I’ve paid my dues, and those dues did not come with any half off coupons or employee discounts. I paid full price and then some for all the experience I’ve got, but I’ve got it and I know when I step on a stage I can deliver.

That’s a very comforting feeling in the heat of battle. I see the ghastly look of unbridled sheer terror on the face of a newbie who has to go up and try to pry laughs out of a herd of drunken meatheads and I know exactly what they’re feeling. I’ve done it way too often for way too long, but that’s the only way to gain any real experience. Shortcuts do not exist.

Now I need to find a way to make all this experience pay off. If I’m going to be working the road, I want it to be worth my while. I’ll go to Springfield and tear those people a new one tomorrow. I know I can do the shows themselves, now it’s a matter of drawing people in to see them. I’m too deep into this to quit now. I want to stick it out and get my payoff.

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