Booking Day Backslide

Wednesday March 26th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

It’s one more Wednesday – aka Hump Day – aka Booking Day. Whatever kind of slick or pithy moniker I might decide to attach to it, the fact remains I’m still falling short of what I need to do. No matter how I try to trick myself, I still find ways to blow off what I know needs to get done.

The bottom line is if I don’t get bookings, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, I don’t eat. If that isn’t a motivator, I don’t know what is. But for whatever reason, I just can’t bring myself to light a fire under my fanny and really do it right. I’m getting a little better, but it’s not close to enough.

Finding work can be a daunting task, and I don’t know of any act that enjoys it – or any good one anyway. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I can’t think of any that I know personally. Most of my comedy friends loathe it as much or more than I do, and that says a lot. I deeply despise it.

It’s not that it’s particularly difficult physically, it’s just the process I can’t stand. It’s glorified panhandling in a way, and through the years we as performers are conditioned that we aren’t in a position of power and need to take whatever we’re given and shut up. It’s like a giant bread line.

I’m sure the bookers like it this way, because they have the upper hand. If we don’t obey all of their whims, we’re off the list and there are a dozen more hungry slugs standing in line behind us to step in immediately. Until one becomes a draw – which rarely happens – there’s no recourse.

All bookers aren’t felons and scumbags, but you wouldn’t know it by the way more than a few act. Each one has their own set of self imposed rules for us to follow to the letter, and they’re all different. Some want us to call by phone, others want us to email only. Some want us to send our available dates monthly, others quarterly. One I know books his entire club for the year in a day.

That’s the way he chooses to do it, and it’s his club so who can say what’s right or wrong? I’ve known the guy for years and I happen to really like him – but I have never once been booked for a week of work because I wasn’t able to get through on “the day”. It’s like a big radio contest or something. The 748th caller gets a week of work next October. But that’s how that guy handles it.

I’m in a precarious position of not being a draw, and I admit it. That’s not a good position to be in bargaining wise, but that’s where 99.999% of us are on any level of the business at any time. It took blood and sweat to fight my way through the herd, but now I’m a solid headliner. Bookers I work for know that, and there have been enough that kept hiring me so I’ve been able to survive.

The trick is to get my name out – in a positive way – with every single living human that might ever be able to hire me to perform at any event on the planet. That ramps it up a bit from just the tiny circle that handles the comedy club business – and I haven’t even gotten to all of those yet.

There’s just no excuse for this, and the more I think about it the more angry and frustrated I get at myself. This should have been a priority decades ago, but it never was. I’ve always had plenty of work because of the times and because I was a strong act. Well, the times are now changing.

I’m still a solid act, and in fact I’m getting better all the time. Even the people that can’t stand me personally all admit that I am good at what I do, and there’s a hollow satisfaction that comes with it. “Yes, he’s funny – but I will NEVER use him.” Does that do either of us any good? No, but it happens to more acts than just me. It’s political, and another reason I don’t enjoy any of it.

I’ve tried to tell myself how important this process is – and it really is – but I just can’t seem to get myself in the habit of taking at the bare minimum ONE day a week and focus on it for maybe two or three hours. I’ve done it a couple of times, but then I get tired of it again and that’s wrong.

It’s kind of like trying to get a dog to swallow a pill. I’ve seen people try to hide it in the dog’s food, but it never works. The dog scarfs down the food, and sure enough right there at the bottom of the bowl is the unswallowed pill. I’m taking the dog’s role here, and I’m only hurting myself.

It’s completely to my benefit to be known from coast to coast by anyone and everyone that can possibly use me for any projects whatsoever that pay money. I’ve been (stupidly) limiting myself to standup comedy work the majority of the past three decades, and that couldn’t be more idiotic.

There are innumerable ways to make money with the skill sets I have now, but until I properly get word out – and keep it out – to all those that could potentially hire me it’s a case of ripe crops rotting on the vine. This needs to be THE single biggest ongoing P.R. campaign I’ve ever done.

A big positive has been the addition of a monthly newsletter. That goes to several bookers that I know and like, and I have already gotten a couple of small bookings from it. The matter of just keeping my name fresh in their head is what did it, and it’s solid proof that it is worth my while.

We’ve only done three so far, but each one is getting smoother and better. That will continue to grow, but I still have to get myself to swallow the pill and take care of my comedy bookings on a much more regular basis. What makes it an even harder sell is that I’m trying to evolve from that level and graduate to more corporate and speaking work. That’s fine, but I still need to maintain.

For at least the next little while – say two to three years – I’ll be young enough where I can get work in both comedy clubs and corporate or business type settings. Eventually I’ll be too old for the clubs, and I can see that coming now. That’s something everyone faces eventually, but if I’m smart I’ll be able to milk as much money out of it as I can until geezerhood wins. It always does.

There are many places I’ve never worked, and there’s really no reason for it other than I’ve had plenty of other work and never needed to. Denver is an example. I love the city, but just have not made it a point to look for work there. It wouldn’t take much to get the lay of the land, and I will.

Other bigger cities like Boston or Toronto or Houston should be on my radar too. I used to love working in Houston, but the club I worked for closed a few years ago. I never sought out another even though I loved the town. That’s on me to go back and start looking again. I know on paper I should be doing it, but will I get it done? That’s what scares me, but at least I admit it’s a fault.

I've never enjoyed the booking process, even though it's a necessary evil of being an entertainer. To me, it's glorified panhandling.

I’ve never enjoyed the booking process, even though it’s a necessary evil of being an entertainer. To me, it’s glorified panhandling.

There can be a telemarketer aspect to it too to make it extra annoying. I'm not going to lie, I have NEVER enjoyed it.

There can be a telemarketer aspect to it too to make it extra annoying. I’m not going to lie, I’ve NEVER enjoyed it.


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