As I make the transition from open-miker to occasionally-paid, still-broke, cross-country wanderer, I find myself at the mercy of bookers. That's nothing new, for entertainers or for me -- I've been playing some form of this game since I had to cold-call rock clubs with numbers cribbed from ratty alt-weeklies in other cities in 1994.
The default answer is no. That's accepted. Generally speaking, a club has 52 weeks to fill, minus whatever holidays they take off, and they've got a roster of people by now who can do just that. They're "always looking for new talent," sure, but it's a lot easier to get a few new faces that their favored old comics bring in, or throw in some newbies as a favor to another booker, than to click through and watch yet another hopeful asshole's shitty YouTube video or read his crappy list of credits.
All understood. All processed on a rational level. But there'll always be that whiny, aggravated voice in the background going "come ON, man!"
You booked me once, said I was good, paid me, and now you won't return my emails? Come ON, man! I'd rather get an honest, curt "hey, you really aren't what we're looking for, check back in a year" than get blown off with platitudes.
You booked THAT GUY and not me? That guy sucks! Come ON, man!
I've submitted avails and video how many times, and I can't even get a form letter back? Come ON, man!
It takes a thick skin to be on stage, in front of sometimes-hostile, usually-drunk crowds, saying stuff you made up and trying to elicit a reaction. But sometimes it feels like you need even thicker skin to fire off emails and pester people on Facebook, scrounging for time, hoping to run into the right person at the right place and catch them in the right mood so that one more little tiny door pops open in the off-brand Advent calendar that is the midwestern comedy landscape of 2012. It takes big metal barrels of hope and pluck to assume you're ever going to get into rooms that seem as remote and untouchable as the surface of Mars.
But we got a damn robot on Mars, and one of these days, I'm gonna get a foot on that stage. And I'm gonna make your drunk-ass customers laugh. And then, maybe once, we can be done with the endless dance of the one-sided email exchange, and I can just be the guy who comes up a couple times a year and puts the work in. That's when I'm having the most fun doing this - when I'm on the bill, putting the time in, getting a little something for my trouble, hanging out with some like-minded freaks, then getting back on the road and doing it again somewhere else.
My goals are realistic and attainable. My voice is loud, my will is strong, and my coffee is hot. I'm gonna get there.
NP: Milligram "This Is Class War"
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.