Posts Tagged ‘Orland Hills’

Monday Money

May 5, 2010

Monday May 3rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Speak of the devil. Yesterday I read of Jay Leno’s difficulty having to perform in a very awkward situation, and lo and behold today I get to do it myself. Again, nothing new. I’ve been doing it my entire adult life. It goes with the territory of being a full time comedian.

Money comes when it does in comedy, but it’s always welcome. Most shows happen at night in some sort of venue that’s hopefully done comedy before. Even those can be a bit tricky at times, but then there’s the other kind of bookings that have no parameters at all.

Those can and do occur any and everyplace from a flimsy tent to a garage to who knows where? I still recall the time I had to stand on a diving board of a swimming pool in some lawyer’s back yard in Madison, WI for a performance that ended with me walking off the ‘stage’ after a drunken oaf in the pool kept splashing me while I was trying to do my act.

Another time I had to perform in the hallway of a hospital floor so people in the rooms could look out and see the show. One guy started groaning in pain, and they ended up just closing his door and telling me to ‘ignore it and finish my skit’. It was a major disaster for everyone, and I had to do thirty minutes as I remember. I’d rather be in bed as a patient.

I’ve worked on moving buses, floating boats, and on top of a picnic table in 100 degree heat at a sleazy carnival in Tucson, AZ not far from the tilt-a-whirl. Why did I attempt all these insane stunts? I needed the money. Still do. I thought I’d have it figured out by now.

Today I was asked to do a show for the business operators of Orland Hills, IL. They had a luncheon meeting and somehow word got out they wanted to hire a comedian. I heard of it from my friend Dennis Ross who lives in New Jersey of all places. How he got the gig I have no clue, but he asked if I wanted it and of course I said yes. Monday money is sweet.

That’s one day of the week most comedians don’t get paid, so any time anyone can turn a buck on a Monday, life is good. That’s the reason I host the shows at Zanies and also try to schedule comedy classes, so I can save the rest of the week for other work that doesn’t always come as often as I like. It’s a common struggle for all performers to stay working.

The people of Orland Hills were very friendly, from the mayor to the Chief of Police to all the other people who went up before me. The audience was diverse, mostly over thirty and needed to get back to work. I had to hit them hard but keep it very clean and stand on a podium with a short microphone leash and a less than stellar sound system. That’s hard.

I’ve learned to deal with these situations over the years, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to kill every time. I have very high standards and if someone hires me I want to give them as good a show as humanly possible. Yes I like being paid, but I really do want to earn my money. I feel bad if anyone would feel cheated, but in these kind of gigs it’s very difficult to get a true roll going, only because there are too many obstacles in the way from having to deal with bad sound to being in a room where there are windows and sunlight shining.

The person who buys the comedian is always the one I try to please, and this time it was a very nice lady who was very easy to deal with the whole time. I know she had to present the idea to a committee, who in turn had to find some alternate choices, and then they had a vote and I won. That’s usually how it works, and I never want to let those buyers down.

If even ONE person complains, it can be a disaster for those people. I’ve gotten several over the years, but all comedians do. There’s a very fine line with some people as to what is considered entertainment and what is considered offensive. Usually the people who are the most offended are the ones who had nothing to do with the process of hiring anyone.

The mayor of Orland Hills set the tone, and luckily he was a very laid back and likeable gentleman named Kyle Hastings. He wasn’t the typical stodgy boring mayor type and he’s a natural on stage. I was glad that he brought me up, but he attended to local business first so it got to be a little longer than expected. The degree of difficulty was extremely high.

I wanted to represent Dennis Ross proudly, because he’s a good guy and didn’t have to call me for this gig. I wanted to please the lady named Karen who called me because she was very nice and booking entertainers isn’t her job. I’d hate to make her look bad. I also thought the mayor and Chief of Police were good laughers and wanted them to enjoy it.

I saw some blank looks on some of the rest of them, but I kept on going. I know most of them had never been to a comedy show before, and they had no clue I was going to be on the docket for their meeting. I don’t blame them, but I still wanted them to have some fun anyway. Nobody was mean, and I did my best. I closed on my regular closer and got off.

I usually try to stay and at least thank a few people who don’t avoid eye contact with me but today I was in a hurry to attend a meeting with the other guys in Jerry’s Kidders as we haven’t seen each other in a while as Jerry has been filling in on a big station in Toronto.

Ken Sevara and Tim Slagle live way south so as long as I was in the area it was wise for us to reconvene and reassess where we are as a group. We agreed that we’re probably in a position of transition right now and the possibility exists we could be finished as an entity especially if Jerry gets a full time job offer. It’s doubtful he’ll be able to use us up there.

We’ve still got the play “You’re On The Air” we wrote with Vicki Quade and if Jerry is not here we can still rework that, but it will take lots of time and money and effort to get a quality product polished and ready to sell. I don’t think we’re ready to do that at this time, but we definitely could do some standup shows in the WGN listening area as the Kidders.

Ken and Tim are really good guys to work with, and we all have fun doing the Kidders. We all wish we could have a steady local outlet in Chicago like we did at WLS. We were on Mondays at a set time, and even though we didn’t make money it was still a sweet gig.

We put ourselves in a position to earn money, but it never came. We were yanked off the air at WLS when Jerry got fired, and then WGN started moving Jerry all around and that in turn moved us all around. Now we’re sitting around waiting to go back and do it again.