Two comedians were having lunch. One of them said, “Man, I had the worst gig last night. I performed in a bowling alley in front of four people for free!” The other comic said, “Man, that’s brutal. So, uh, who books it?” (Credit to Bruce Baum)
When you first start out in the world of comedy, you’ll take any gig you can get. It doesn’t matter where it is, what it pays or how far you have to drive to get there. Stage time is the only thing that matters. If you bomb, who cares? You’re hooked. You crave it the way the Kardashians crave attention.
I have performed for a guy’s 60th birthday in small house – in the kitchen! I know! I did a show once in a dark cave where there were more bats than audience members. True story! You have to pay your dues. It’s good to go out on the road and do one-nighter hell gigs in small town bars. It really toughens you up and helps you gone your act.
Eventually, if you stick with it and work crazy hard, going through at least two cars due to the mileage from driving 400 miles between the hell gigs, you finally start getting paid gigs in comedy clubs. Much nicer, although you still have to drive hundreds of miles to get there. Slowly, it’s gets better each year.
Somewhere along the line, you might catch a break and land a spot on a TV show or start getting gigs on a cruise line and make a decent living. You get an agent who may or may not be of help to you. You keep giving it all you’ve got, year after year until you aren’t able to perform any longer. For George Burns it was 100! For me, it was 59. All in all, it’s a really fun career that I would recommend to anyone. Maybe avoid the gigs in dark caves with bats.