Second Chance Success

Friday April 21st, 2012 – Wilmington, IL

   I think I ended up learning a lesson tonight, but I’m still a little fuzzy as to what it actually was. I did a one nighter in Wilmington, IL I wasn’t looking forward to that turned out to be a very hot show and I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it was. Top to bottom, it was a total blast.

I did a show at the same place maybe two years ago, and it was a pretty rough night. There was an incessantly babbling drunken female heckler – the worst kind, and that turned it into more of a verbal fist fight than a comedy show. And there was a sparse turnout on top of that. No fun at all.

This time, it was the polar opposite. The place was over full, and they even had to haul in extra chairs from the restaurant next door to make room for everybody. I got to bring my own opening acts, and I chose Mike All and Daryl Moon. Both did a fine job, and appreciated the opportunity.

The whole thing went about as well as a one nighter in Wilmington, IL could go. The audience was there to laugh, and they hung on every word. The show built correctly, and everyone in front of me did exactly what they were supposed to. If every night was like this, life would be a party.

I even sold some merchandise. People didn’t flinch when I said my new DVDs were $15, even though I hesitated a little when I said it. I’ve never felt comfortable selling anything after a show, but it’s becoming a necessity to survive. I’ve tried to keep it simple and reasonably priced for the most part, and all I’ve had to sell were CDs at $10 each.  But I’ve seen guys get as much as $20.

I’ve seen a lot of others get $15. I think a lot of it is how it’s presented. If someone comes up at the end of a show and wants to buy something, price is usually not the issue. They want to take a little piece of their experience home, and often they’ve had a few cocktails so that helps open the wallet a little easier. I’ve observed the process for years, but I’m still uncomfortable executing it.

The best marketers I’ve seen usually have a mediocre act at best. They put laser beam focus on the marketing, and their act is just a means to an end. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but that’s never been where my attention has been. My focus has been on doing the shows.

If someone should happen to want to buy a CD afterward, I’m happy to oblige. I tried offering t-shirts for a while, but that was a huge pain in the ass for many reasons. No matter what size I’m carrying, there’s always some freak of nature dwarf or 7 foot Swahili tribesman who has to have a special size that I don’t have, and then I get that size and then don’t sell another one for years.

All of these are useful lessons to learn, and I’d be smart if I started applying them to my career – or lack thereof. Doing shows in bars in Wilmington, IL and towns like it is not what I pictured myself to be doing at this point in my life. There was nothing wrong with those people, and I did enjoy myself tonight. But on a larger scale, this is just not what’s going to put me over the top.

But what is? That’s the nagging $64,000 question that’s been eating me alive and still is. I gave this particular gig a second chance, and I’m glad I did. The first time didn’t thrill me, but this one made up for it. I didn’t get rich, but they treated me like I was famous. That’s not the worst thing.


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