I once knew a comedian who was an idiot. He thought a punch line was waiting to get a fruity drink.
The business of comedy is very strange. It is really like no other. There is no safety net, no one else to lean on in case you stumble. It’s just you and a microphone.
I’ve acted in plays, movies and commercials. I also belonged to several improvisational troupes. I even sang on Music Row in Nashville. ABC even taped five episodes of “America’s Funniest People” in my back yard. No joke.
Even with all of that, there is still no rush for me like the one I feel when I do a show for 300 people. If I’m being honest, the crowd size really doesn’t matter. I’ve done a show with no one left in the club and I’ve done shows in front of thousands. The rush is still the same.
I’m really not the daredevil type. I’ve just always lived by the mantra “Why not me?” So many of today’s stars started out acting in music videos. I’m sure the successful ones never decided to throw in the towel and give up, only to be “discovered” down the road. The business doesn’t work that way.
It’s important to keep working no matter what, in order to keep your wits keen and never lose your edge. It is also easier to work more if you keep in touch with the street. The more you work, the more you’re seen and the more your seen, the more opportunities present themselves. Sure, there is some luck involved, but it’s mostly hard work and dedication.
I can’t accurately count the number of comedians who have spent many a night sleeping in their car because the pay is so bad they can’t afford to stay in the cheapest of hotels. I swear to you that the accommodations were so bad in one place, they actually gave us rooms upstairs in the condemned part of the hotel. There were actually bed sheets held together with duct tape. There were no lights on in the hallway and I swear to you that there were cockroaches that were so big that you couldn’t simply kill them, you had to make it look like an accident.
I suppose there are plenty more horror stories outside of the comedy business, but it’s the one I know best. For example, when I open for a big name, like Neil Sedaka, I get the royal treatment and feel like a king. The next week I might be working one nighters where no one really cares if you’re there or not.
I’ve opened for Frank Caliendo a couple of times. Once in a comedy club where my greeting was a tad on the cold side. The next time was at an amphitheater with a couple of thousand people there, and the difference was amazing.
Next week, I might perform in someone’s living room for a 50 dollar bill. Maybe yours?
See you tomorrow.
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