Posts Tagged ‘Carnival Cruise Lines’

Summertime Blues

April 18, 2013

Wednesday April 17th, 2013 – Libertyville, IL

   Summer will be here sooner than later, and I’m probably one of the few who live in the climate region I do that is dreading the thought. While everyone else is out barbecuing and camping and having the times of their lives, comedians are scraping to piece together a living. It’s a struggle.

   It can be a struggle all the other months too, but summer is the toughest time of the year by far. Who wants to be inside seeing a comedian when there are baseball games to attend or swimming pools to enjoy? I was born and raised in a place that has nasty winters, so I feel that way myself.

   It’s always been a challenge to stay booked in the summer, and it’s not getting any easier. I’ve managed to squeak through and survive all these many years, but it hasn’t been easy. Some years are better than others, but as a rule summer is the slow time for comedians. I need an alternative.

   Bands can work festivals, and that’s often a solid source of income for them. Comedy does not play well outdoors, even though it’s been tried. I’ve worked many an outdoor gig where I’ve had to talk over a plane flying over or watch someone change a dirty diaper in front of me as I work.

   One of the few places where comedy business carries on as usual during the summer months is the South. They’re used to the hot weather and they deal with it accordingly. Comedy clubs seem to do well year round in the South, and in years past I’ve gone down there to salvage a summer.

   When I was working for Carnival Cruise Lines I had a great summer – probably the best I have ever had. I was surprised to discover people want to cruise in the summer, but apparently they do and it was great for my wallet that year. I’d gladly do it again if I get the opportunity, but I’m not in that loop these days. There’s a new booker in charge, and I haven’t been able to get a booking.

   Part of the reason is that I haven’t tried to get in his face about it. I’ve been too busy getting my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show off the ground and everything else I’ve got going on. Bookings are the last thing I’m worried about, when in fact they should be the first. Now here comes summer heat and my bookings are ice cold. After I complete my Schlitz run in two weeks my calendar is bare.

   I’ll get some last minute stuff thrown my way as I usually do. Bookers I haven’t worked for in a while will contact me and I’ll be ‘fresh meat’ on their schedule. There’s always a fallout at the last minute for whatever reason, and that’s how I’ve been able to make a living for all this time.

   I don’t want to have to depend on having to wait for other people’s scraps though. I’ve been at this long enough where I should be enjoying the lion’s share of the bookings and not playing the role of the buzzard hovering above a rotting carcass. I’ve earned my place, and I need to claim it.

   Once again, it all boils down to a successful marketing plan. If I can find a way to pack fannies in seats, I’ll work all I want. I’ll have so many gigs I’ll need to clone myself to take them all. It’s not that way now, and I need to change that in a hurry or I’ll be mowing lawns or setting up rides at a carnival. As each year passes, leaving my summer bookings to the fates is not a wise choice.

   Maybe I’ll be able to carve out a summer niche for ‘Schlitz Happened!’ at some point. There is a big church festival market in the Milwaukee area, and that could be a perfect fit. This won’t be the year as it’s way too late, but next year is a definite possibility. As of now, this summer is one of the slowest I’ve had in a long time. I’ll either adapt or starve, and I don’t like the last option.


Knuckling Down

October 25, 2012

Wednesday October 24th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Another day of hard work, and I feel like I’m on the right track. I made a point to get organized for next year’s tax return so I don’t have to go through the torture I’m going through now. I don’t ever want this to be a problem again, and even though I’ve said it before this time feels different.

All of my receipts to date are not only in one place, they’re in order separated into individually marked envelopes. My friend Todd Hunt is a business speaker who bills himself as a ‘recovering anal retentive’. I think I’m getting onset type 2 anal retentiveness, but I’m not going to complain.

Getting this part of my life straightened out will help free my mind up for more creative things. I’ve still got a ton of ideas rolling around in my head like lotto balls, and I know in my heart one of them will have the winning combination. Before I die I’d like to experience at least ONE hit.

In a perfect world it would be great to have a string of them. Everything I’m doing is great fun, but I have to believe it would be more fun if it were making a profit. One healthy run of comedy work for six months would change my life around completely. It’s not like I can’t handle the job.

Working in nice venues for decent money on ONE tour would make my life dramatically better in a hurry. 100 cities with say 1000 people at $20 a head would be what, $2 million? I’d think I’d have to sell some merchandise too, so conservatively that would be another cool million. I’m in!

And those are conservative numbers. I look at guys like Louis CK or Jim Gaffigan and wonder how they did it. I don’t begrudge those guys in the least, but they’re of my generation of comics and I know I could do very well with their fans. How do I cultivate my own group of loyal fans?

It’s not a matter of talent or ability. I can do the job on stage, it’s off stage that I stink out loud. I need help with my business, and I’m not too proud to admit it. Who could put me in front of an audience that would like Louis CK or Jim Gaffigan or Brian Regan or any one of a group of guys that is doing what I want to do? I don’t have a clue how to do that, but I’m sure going to find out.

I want to work in Las Vegas and Reno and Atlantic City. Why am I not doing that? I should’ve been a regular in all those places years ago. Mr. Lucky is a perfect persona for casino gigs, and if I could get a few steady gigs in those places it would help immensely. I’d pay my debt in a jiffy.

Cruise ships are another possibility. I’d go back out in a second, and a few months at sea would turn my whole world around for the better. There’s a new booker at Carnival Cruise Lines, and if I can catch a break and connect with her I know I’d prove myself all over again. I’d be a lot more prepared than I was the last time when I had no idea what to expect. This time I’d be a lot better.

These are my prime years, and they’re fading quickly. If I’m going to make my mark in a good way it’s going to be in the next little while or it won’t happen at all. Lighting this fire under me is the best thing that could have happened, and I’m not going to let the opportunity pass without an all out effort on my part. I’ve come this far, why stop chasing dreams? I want to WIN this game!