Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Weather Advisory

February 27, 2013

Tuesday February 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   It snowed today, and that got me to thinking about how much something as random as weather can have a very real impact on someone’s business. I guess I’ve always known it, but it really hit home today as I was cleaning off my car so I could get to the grocery store before it got too bad.

It’s inevitable that snow will happen in this part of the country. If anyone who lives here hasn’t figured it out by now, they deserve to turn into human popsicles. That being said, when the snow comes exactly is a matter of random chance. We know it starts right around early November and stays until March or April, but exactly how often and on what days is a matter of random chance.

I happen to have had the night off tonight, but if I was working somewhere local this weather’s impact could severely cramp my style. I would have had to leave several hours early, and there’d probably be a lot fewer buttocks in the seats than usual – even though Tuesdays are usually slow anyway. There aren’t many places that do shows on Tuesdays, so I dodged the bullet for tonight.

Tomorrow through Saturday however, I’m booked at Zanies in Chicago. That’s about 50 miles from where I live, so I’ll have to make sure I get a super early start and get there so I can secure a parking spot and get to the club by show time so I can get paid. It all revolves around the scratch.

Snow isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure can be a downer in the comedy business. It tends to keep people from going out at night, at least a percentage of them. Even in a place that knows all about winter, it’s a fact of life. Tonight I caught a break, but tomorrow and all other dates are up for grabs. Maybe people will show up, and maybe they won’t. Filling any room is never easy.

Then there are the people that need the snow to survive. Plowing services and ski resorts come to mind. They’re happy whenever the snow shows up, even though most of the rest of us are not. If there’s a mild winter, we’re in heaven but they hate every minute of it. It’s never unanimous.

I’m not sure if a perfect business exists, but I know being a road comic isn’t it. Too many small things can turn into big things as far as having an audience show up, and when it goes south it’s a major disaster. Weather is never a small thing to think about, and both good and bad weather can keep customers away. Bad weather keeps them at home and good weather chases them outside.

Today I used the time indoors to finally get to the tax receipts I’ve been meaning to get to for a few weeks now. I’ve been all over the road and once again let them pile up, but I refuse to return to my habits of old. I’ve had too much pain in that department, and am going to find a way to get better if it’s the last thing I do. It’s getting close to filing time and I want to avoid the extension.

I also spent a few hours sorting out my projects into tangible piles that I intend to organize into a three ring binder so I can keep better track of everything I’ve got going. I probably should have done something like this years ago, but I was too busy working on everything else. Weather isn’t the only factor that makes a difference as to how things turn out. There are all kinds of things the self employed person discovers and has to deal with that aren’t thought of at the start. Surprise!


Piper Payment

December 11, 2012

Sunday December 9th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI/Harris, MI

   Today was the day to pay the piper for all the weather breaks I caught on this week’s run to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I knew when I accepted the booking that the wrath of winter could end up with a starring role as the week unfolded, and that’s exactly what happened. I can’t bitch.

I left a day early on Wednesday to hedge my bet, and I’m glad I did. It eliminated a lot of stress or at least postponed it until today. I had smooth sailing from home to Sault Ste. Marie, and from Sault Ste. Marie to Negaunee. It snowed a bit from Negaunee to Milwaukee, but not a whole lot.

I crossed my fingers and toes before going to sleep after last night’s shows I’d be able to dodge the bullet one more day, but that doesn’t happen to Mr. Lucky. It started snowing about half way to my friend Russ Martin’s house who lives on the south side of Milwaukee. He wanted to come along for the ride and do a guest set at the Island Casino in Harris, MI, and I was happy to oblige.

The scheduled opening act was Steve Purcell, who lives near Madison, WI. He was also on the bill in Milwaukee, but drove home after the shows as comedians tend to do whenever possible. It isn’t a thrill to stay in a hotel past the first few times doing it, and I totally get it. He has a family.

It started snowing about halfway between Russ’s house and Madison, and didn’t let up all day. It got wetter and sloppier, and it was the kind of snow that made lane changes almost impossible and required both hands on the wheel to keep the car on the road. My knuckles were lily white as I kept both hands on the wheel at all times and my eyes glued to the road. This was road combat.

It got even harder as we crossed the border from Marinette, WI to Menomonie, MI with about a 50 mile home stretch to the Island Casino in Harris. It’s all two lane highway on US 41 which merges with US 2, and conditions worsened by the mile. We made it within just a few minutes.

Showtime at this gig is 7pm Eastern Time, which is 6pm Central Time. That’s a lot earlier than most show times, and it’s good and bad. It makes it more difficult to get there on time, especially after doing two shows in Milwaukee the night before, but it also ends early to give us a head start on the drive home. Steve had to get home for work in the morning, and we all knew it going in.

There was a surprisingly large audience waiting for us when we got there, and the show ended up being a lot of fun. There’s a radio personality named Bo Reynolds who hosts the show, and he used to work in Chicago. He’s a great guy and very hip, and sets the tone for a really fun show.

Russ, Steve and I had a blast on stage as is per usual at this gig. It’s a long drive, but the people really enjoy the shows and we love doing them. What none of us loved was the journey home. It kept snowing while we were on stage, and we crawled back to Menominee at 25 miles an hour.

To make it worse, we hit Packer traffic on I-43 from Green Bay to Milwaukee and that slowed us down further. By the time I got home I was ready for a massage or a sedative – or both. I love to perform, but getting there and back can be pure stress. I should be a piper. They get paid well.