Maximizing The Moment

Saturday May 26th, 2012 – Wonder Lake, IL

   One of the most humbling parts of the entertainment business is that no matter how satisfying a particular show or evening or week of shows may be, there’s always the next one to worry about. Too often there’s not enough time to savor when things go well, and that minimizes the moment.

We wear so many hats as entertainers that at any given time we could be a promoter, producer, sales person, babysitter of egos, damage control specialist and a vast array of other positions that have nothing whatsoever to do with actual on stage performing. The work is never ever finished.

Last night was an absolute blast, but that’s over today. There’s a wedding or banquet going on in the space where we did the show, and nobody there knows or cares there was a killer comedy show in that very room just 24 hours before. A moment was created – but then it’s gone forever.

Tonight was a brand new set of circumstances in a completely different location with a mix of entirely new characters, even though the result was pretty much the same. The people who came had a good time, and I got paid at the end of the night. On a basic scale, that’s showbiz success.

We have to do that same process over and over and over again, and that opens us up to having all kinds of unexpected results at random times that can have maddening results. Any number of catastrophes can jump up out of nowhere to ruin the party, and at some point it happens to us all.

Tonight went pretty smoothly all around, even though there was that typical table of boozed up idiots who wouldn’t stop babbling and ruined the show for the rest of the people who really liked it. I had to be a little sterner than I’d prefer, but I had to let them know they were being too loud.

I don’t think the rest of the audience expected that, and I could feel the energy get sucked from the room for a few seconds as I was doing it. I was able to get them right back, as I have years of experience of handling these situations but it takes years of being in them to know how to do it.

The show tonight was in a town called Wonder Lake, IL, even though I didn’t notice much of a town anywhere near the place we worked. It was set up by a former comedy student named Ruth Ruhnke who lives near there, and she asked if I’d be willing to do a show. Of course I said yes.

There was very minimal risk involved because I made my nut for the week last night and could afford to take a chance tonight. It was only 11 miles from my house, so even if nobody showed it wouldn’t be a total disaster. I told Ruth I would not charge her if it flopped, so it was a win/win.

It’s great experience to run a show of any kind, and I highly recommend everyone tries it to see exactly how difficult it is to get people in a room for any reason. It takes weeks of hard work and there’s still no guarantee even one buttock will show up to fill half a seat. It’s a major challenge.

I know Ruth worked her butt off promoting this night, and there was a very respectable turnout to reward her for her hard work. I helped her by doing a solid headliner set, and she helped me in return by handling all the things I never enjoyed. I just want to show up and perform, but that’s a luxury that’s fading fast. Times are different now. We all have to start setting up our own shows.

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