Posts Tagged ‘rejection’

More Rejection Please!

September 21, 2013

Wednesday September 18th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

As crazy as it may sound, I need to have more rejection in my life. LOTS more. It’s no secret I haven’t been doing my due diligence as far as handling my bookings goes, and there’s absolutely no reason for it other than I can’t stand that part of the business and have focused on other things.

That’s going to have to change in a hurry, and it has already started. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is of ultimate importance, and if I ever want to achieve any real success at what I’ve spent so much time and energy on already I’m going to have to learn to like it or hire someone.

Some parts of life just flat out rot, even for the most glamorous of occupations. I’m sure being an astronaut has its fun parts, but crapping in a space suit doesn’t sound like one of them. Life is often a tradeoff, and we have to make sacrifices of things we don’t like to achieve things we do.

I still enjoy being a comedian, and if I want to continue I need to find a way to stay booked on a regular basis where I can make a living. There are more comedians out there looking to get the same bookings I am than ever before, so I’m going to have to step it up a few notches to survive.

The painful truth is, 99.999% of humanity doesn’t know I exist. That’s true for most everyone, but it’s especially bad for politicians and entertainers. If I am ever going to have a career instead of just a job in this business, I need to overhaul my methods and do it right. It’s been a weakness.

Getting rejected is unfortunately a major part of this game, and I’ve had a heaping helping of it for decades onstage and off. Sometimes I’ve handled it well, and other times beyond poorly. The onstage rejection I’ve learned to completely ignore. I have leathery thick skin, and have tanked it so many times it doesn’t affect me at all. Off stage is where I need to improve greatly, and I am.

Nobody likes being told they’re not good enough or worse yet totally blown off altogether, but that’s what happens on a daily basis as we try to procure work from people most of us wouldn’t choose to have personal contact with in any way if we didn’t need what they have. It’s insincere in my opinion, but also necessary. If we want work, we have to be known by those who have it.

I’ve always preferred to work for people I like and respect, but times dictate that is not always possible. Work is harder to come by than ever before, and nobody can afford to blow off possible bookings just because of a personal jag. Fortunately, I’ve already had my fallings out with most of the top flaming weasels in the business, and/or they have excommunicated me from their fold.

My big mouth has gotten me into trouble, and I’m not going to deny it. I tend to say what’s on my mind, and often it hasn’t been popular with the powers that be. It wasn’t necessarily smart to be that way coming up the ranks, although I still find it refreshing to know I had the guts to do it.

Guts are one thing, but smart business practices are another. I could’ve just as easily kept quiet and gotten a lot more bookings over the years than speak out and burn bridges like I did. It’s too late to change those particular situations now, but it isn’t too late to change how I handle myself. There are all kinds of bookers I’ve never worked for before, and I have a totally clean slate with all of them. Most if not all have no idea who I am, and it’s up to me to sell them on my ability.

I’ve said it before and it’s true more than ever – my true profession is now sales and marketing. It always was, I was just too stupid to see it. I was busy trying to be the ‘artiste’, but that’s never where the real money is. Art is fine, but that pesky word “starving” is all too often in front of it.

I’m not a fan of living like a cockroach, even though I’ve grown very accustomed to it over the years. I don’t mind a frugal existence, but I want it on my terms. Ramen noodles and Spam don’t taste that bad, but they’d taste even better if I had a million dollars in the bank. Just knowing that I could have filet mignon any time I wanted would do me fine most of the time. I’d like security.

So, is that “selling out”? I’m sure depending on the person being asked that term would pop up immediately, but so what? I’m sure had I been asked the question twenty years ago it would have made me flip out and go off on a tangent about staying true to one’s artistic vision and all of that.

I’m still very much into artistic vision, but there has to be business acumen along with it or it’s a dead end street with no way out. I know a lot of talented people who have sold themselves far too short – or worse yet not at all. If nobody knows I’m out here, how can I ever expect a career?

This is often a Catch 22 for most performers. Going to New York or L.A. was traditionally the main way to “get seen”, but that’s not where the pay is. Comedians or bands needed to get out on the road to pay the bills, and that’s the trap I fell into at an early age. It’s great to cut one’s chops on the road, but at some point there needs to be a payoff. I am now ready to get in line for mine.

I have been paying extra attention to this part of the process of late, and today I took part in an online seminar talking about marketing skills for entrepreneurs of all kinds. It was a solid hour of interesting tips and hints to make everyone’s online presence better, since that’s so crucial now.

I’ve got Facebook and Twitter accounts for both my comedy and ‘Schlitz Happened!’, but I’ve not taken them very seriously quite honestly. The seminar today had three ‘experts’ I never heard of preaching how important it was to grow and maintain relationships with social media contacts.

They made a lot of sense, and that’s just for ‘regular’ people with ‘regular’ businesses. I should be ten times ahead of the curve if I’m in the entertainment business, and that lit a fire in my pants to get out there and DO it. I need to be seen by more people, but that comes with more rejection.

Too bad. I chose to be in this racket, so I’m only cheating myself if I don’t put myself out there to EVERY SINGLE PERSON that could possibly book me for a show, and make myself readily available to get hired when an opening occurs. It’s a numbers game, and if I’m not out there with everyone else how can I ever expect to move ahead? This is a simple truth, but I haven’t done it.

The good news is, I can and will change it immediately. I already have a proven act, now I just need to let more people know it’s available for hire – and at reasonable rates to boot. I’m sure I’ll get rejected a lot in the process, but I’ll also get more work too. I’ll make that trade in a second.

If you aren’t my Twitter friend, would you please connect with me? I’m @dentedcandobie and @schlitzhappened. I also have a King of Uranus @UranusTweets. I’ve got Facebook accounts at http://www.facebook.com/dobiemaxwell and http://www.facebook.com/SchlitzHappened. I do appreciate it.

The Emotional Toilet

July 21, 2013

Friday July 19th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   An especially unpleasant part of being both a dented can and creative artist type is often a total lack of self esteem. People have told us for so long that we’re not worthy or up to snuff and it’s a constant struggle to keep fighting that rejection. Some days it feels like the bastards were correct.

   I’m feeling that way right about now, and it’s not fun. Looking over my entire life, it sure feels like I’ve wasted it and I wish I could either start over or move on. Where I am just isn’t cutting it as far as satisfaction goes, and I feel like I have completely missed the mark in life. I’ve blown it.

   There are some days when I feel like a bullet proof warrior, plowing through the battlefield that most people never put even the tip of one toe on. I’ve made it through countless battles and been able to miraculously survive to fight another day. I can’t think of anybody who has gone through all the front line blood soaked life combat I have on so many levels and hung in there like I have.

   I’m not patting myself on the back as much as admitting I’ve just been too stupid to quit. I’m at a point in my life now where I don’t feel any closer to my goals than when I started, and that’s an unmerciful kick in the gonads of my self esteem. What the hell have I done with all these years?

   I’ve tried to make something good happen, but a combination of bad breaks and poor decisions have taken me so far off any course I thought I was on I don’t know what to do. I sure could use a break right now, but I don’t see one on the horizon. It feels like I’ve just been fooling myself.

   There’s a person I know that has some power in the business and with one phone call could put me in front of some important people that could really change my life. For whatever reason, he is not doing it and it’s been a crushing blow. Very rarely do I ask for favors, but in this case I made an exception. It wouldn’t be anything other than a phone call or two, but it’s not happening at all.

   This makes no sense to me, but what in this insane jungle of a business ever does? I’ve had this particular person tell me I was “the best standup comedian I’ve ever seen”, yet there isn’t a bit of effort to put in a word with someone when I really need it. I can’t figure it out, and it really hurts.

   I do like this person personally, but on a business level I feel completely ignored. This is how it works in the entertainment business, and one of the reasons why I never should have entered into it. If I wanted ‘normal’ – and I did – this is the last place to ever find it. I feel emotionally raped.

   I think the majority of entertainers stumble into the business because they are severely lacking in an emotional area of their lives and hope to make up for it by becoming successful. It’s often the lack of approval or encouragement from a parental unit, and that story has been played out as long as entertainment has existed. The whole business is a giant game of kids needing attention.

   I’m not going to lie and say that’s not a major reason of why I got into it. I wanted to prove that all those incredibly cruel things my father said were wrong, but some days I still hear them and it completely erases anything positive I may have done. I’m sorry, but I’m human and I feel pain.

   Nobody cares about anyone else’s pain, as they are trying to numb their own. Comedy is often a welcome diversion to both those watching and those performing, but if the pain isn’t dealt with on a deeper level it never really goes totally away. Once in a while the emotional toilet clogs and it all backs up to create an ugly mess. What I could use is a plunger, but I don’t see one around.

The Sales Hat

July 4, 2013

Monday July 1st, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   Being in the entertainment business means being self employed, and that means one is required to wear a lot of hats. Seldom if ever do all of them fit well, and that’s why people’s talent level is not always in sync with their level of success. Like in any business, there needs to be a system of doing things correctly. All it takes is one part’s failure to keep that entire system from working.

   As a comedian, I admit I’ve been painfully weak in my off stage matters. Everyone who is self employed has to decide what areas to spend time working on, and usually it ends up getting spent on the things we enjoy doing while what we don’t is ignored. That has been my story to the max.

   I love wearing the hats of being a writer and performer, but I wore them so much I didn’t wear several others that are of ultimate importance in regards to the total package. One of those hats is that of a sales person. I assumed – quite wrongly – that if I had a good product people would find it themselves. Some did, but not nearly enough to launch me to the position I originally intended.

   Most of the comedy clubs and bookers I worked for over the years were smart enough to focus on selling the concept of standup comedy itself rather than individuals, and it’s done them well. I wish I would have seen that flaw many years earlier than I did, but I didn’t. Now it’s a problem.

   For decades, comedy clubs would use the model that coming to their club would be fun, even if you didn’t know the names of who was performing – and more often than not customers didn’t. I was interchangeable with a whole roster of performers who were ‘funny enough’, but not a draw.

   That formula is evolving now, and comedy clubs are scraping the barrel to create the illusion of celebrity to attract customers in any way possible. If some gap toothed dingle berry off the street happens to be able to fart Happy Birthday on You Tube and it gets some hits – it’s a headline act.

   I’m exaggerating a little – but not all that much. Name recognition is more important than I’ve ever seen it but unfortunately it’s also my biggest weakness. I have a rock solid act, but I am not able to sell out a single seat Port-o-Potty. Believe me, NOBODY is sadder about that than I am.

   I suppose some of the other hats that I have neglected are those of promoter and publicist, but the sales one is most crucial. I need to sell myself to people who are in charge of buying comedy acts, and that’s before I get to the public. I need to sell the concept of comedy to potential buyers.

   I’ve heard people I know in the sales business complain endlessly about the vicious rejection of going on sales calls, and today I got a taste of it myself. I had a face to face appointment with the General Manager of a rather large venue about the possibility of starting a regular comedy night.

   It doesn’t matter where it is, but I had an inside track that he might be interested in trying out a few shows to test the waters. Well, my source was wrong as I felt his icy stare the whole time my pitch was being made. I felt myself stumbling over my words because I could see all too obvious total disinterest as I went through my points. He wanted no part of it, and asked stupid questions.

   I wanted to verbally slice him to pieces for his condescending attitude – and I could have done it with ease – but that’s not what to do when wearing the sales hat. That’s reserved for the stage when I’m being heckled by a drunken idiot. I gave the guy my card, but I’m sure he tossed it in the garbage seconds after I left. This is a whole new form of rejection I need to learn to handle.

A Human Armadillo

June 11, 2013

Sunday June 9th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Back up on life’s horse. I’ve been kicked off before, and will get it again. It’s not the end of the world to get blown out of that contest yesterday, but the way it happened was extra harsh. I drew a bad spot on a bad night, and that’s all it means. Everything else that led up to it doesn’t matter – at least not on paper. It just hurts to have put in all these years and get rejected one more time.

   An entertainer has to have a thick skin – almost to the point of being a human armadillo. We’re constantly getting stiffed, jilted and ignored from every angle, and it’s usually by someone who’s never been on a stage even one time. These ‘experts’ run the show, and we’re just pieces of meat to be bought, sold or traded like baseball cards. The ones with talent rarely get to call the shots.

   I read once where Charlie Chaplin entered a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest and placed third. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. Even if that particular tale isn’t true, I’ll bet something like it has happened to a celebrity at some point. There are always glitches and snafus to overcome.

   The best thing to do is just laugh it off and keep moving. That’s very easy to say, but when one gets one’s ‘nads kicked with a steel toed work boot it tends to muddy the logical thought process at least temporarily. My goal has never been to win any contests of any kind. My goal is to find a way to have a career in show business rather than just a job. This was just a means to that end.

   Everybody takes lumps, it’s just that mine seem to be coming out of order. I’ve made it all the way through the thickest part of the jungle, and now I’m getting tangled in the short grass. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. I’m going to dust myself off and get back on some kind of a trail.

   If nothing else, I have the ideal set of problems. I’ve paid my dues and have some natural skills and I’m just one killer show away from going to a whole other level. That’s much better than the majority of everyone else who has little to no experience, but assumes they’re going to magically skip past that pesky ‘hard work and sacrifice’ part and shoot straight to stardom. Best o’ luck!

   Unfortunately, luck does play a role in show business success and it’s not a tiny one. It happens to be a major speaking role, and it has a lot to say as to who will or won’t catch all the necessary breaks required to launch a legitimate career. There are intangibles that have to happen at exactly the right time in the right order, and nobody can control it all. One either hits pay dirt or doesn’t.

   I don’t know if I will or I won’t, but if I do it’s been such a long wait it’ll be pay dust or even a fossil. I hope I hit something while I’m still young enough to enjoy solid foods. How Mr. Lucky would it be to finally have my ship come in but I’m too old to enjoy any of it? I don’t think steak tastes as good drinking it out of a blender, and even a Gucci colostomy bag wouldn’t be stylish.

   Although I didn’t especially feel like it, I crawled out of the rack early this morning and started immediately to work on my million dollar ideas. I spent two hours going through my curriculum for comedy classes so I can get a version online soon. I also spent two hours creating my ‘Schlitz Happened!’ blog to be used as content for the website. It’s www.schlitzhappened.blogspot.com.

  The life of an entertainer is always a matter of dodging bullets and searching for new routes that bypass clueless idiots in charge who clog the toilet for no good reason. Part of the game is trying to stay out of their circle of influence, but it’s tough because there are so many. It’s a big conflict inside to be both human and creative but also hard and callous enough to survive in the business.