Pulling Backup Duty

Thursday April 3rd, 2014 – Rosemont, IL

I’m pulling backup duty this week, and I’m glad to get it. I’ve got four nights of work at Zanies in Chicago at two of their locations, but unfortunately it’s where the action isn’t. Jeff Garlin from the shows “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Goldbergs” is in town, and I am backing him up.

Last night and tonight Jeff appears at the Old Town location on Wells Street, and I’m covering at the new Rosemont location. Tomorrow and Saturday it’s exactly the opposite. He’ll sell out all shows in Rosemont, and I’ll be in Old Town. There is an upside and a downside to this situation.

The biggest plus is that I am able to stay home and get paid. It’s not the heaping wad of money Jeff Garlin will be hauling in, but the factor of him being a draw and me not dictates our payday. I was grateful to get the call, as it could have gone to any one of a long list of needy comedians.

Times are tight, and this will put some much needed cabbage in my pocket that I can throw at bills one more month. There’s nothing glamorous about it, but it beats setting up at a flea market trying to sell trinkets I bought at thrift stores for a profit. At least I’m practicing my craft a little.

There were small crowds last night and tonight in Rosemont, but everyone expected it because of Jeff Garlin being in town. That’s where the focus was, and I knew that going in. I don’t know Jeff all that well, but we’ve crossed paths several times over the years and we always got along.

He’s more of an improv guy than a standup, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what he does, and he has taken it far. He was always a good schmoozer and understood the business, and those are the people that find their way on to sitcoms. Kudos to Jeff for understanding that.

I’m still struggling with that equation, and it seems that as I start to get the concept it’s going to likely be too late to do anything about it. I’ve said it before, but only because it’s true. I spent my time working only on my show as I came up the ladder, and paid little to no attention to business.

The Jeff Garlins of the world were smart enough to know that was the wrong recipe for success and wisely built a network on their way up. Now Jeff is consistently selling tickets for top dollar, and I’m mopping up at the other clubs as he does – and I’m thrilled to get it. There’s a cold slap.

If that’s not a valuable lesson for some kid, I don’t know what is. Hopefully someone will read this years after I’m dead and a light will go on in their head early enough where they can salvage a career rather than fall into the trap I did along with so many others. Pay attention to business.

I will say, I went up last night and tonight and gave those two tiny audiences a better show than they ever expected. I had people both nights enthusiastically come up and tell me afterward they could not laugh any harder. That’s as good as it gets – but unless the room is full it’s incomplete.

So here I sit at this point in my life, able to rock a room but the room is almost empty. Putting butts in seats is what constitutes a career, and I’m still feverishly trying to figure out that elusive secret formula. Jeff Garlin sure did, and he’s raking in the cash. I feel like I missed the clue bus.

Last night and tonight, I get to headline a beautiful comedy club - Zanies in Rosemont, IL. www.zanies.com.

Last night and tonight, I get to headline a beautiful comedy club – Zanies in Rosemont, IL. I’m grateful. http://www.zanies.com.

Jeff Garlin will be headlining in Rosemont this weekend. He's at Zanies in Chicago tonight, where I will be this weekend.

Jeff Garlin will be headlining in Rosemont this weekend. He’s at Zanies in Chicago tonight, where I will be this weekend. We switch.

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