I did a show a few weeks ago that really should have been better attended. Sure, it was on a Thursday night, in a semi-dumpy roadhouse bar with carpet on the walls (re-read that), and a stage that took up 1/4 of the room. And a pool table that took up another 1/4 of the room. But… it was in an area of Seattle in which I know for a fact that at least 10 of my acquaintances live within 3 miles of. These are the people asking when I’ll be in their area, what shows do I have within 10 miles of their house, etc. The typical exchange goes like this…
Them: Dude! I saw you on TV last weekend, so funny! When are you doing a show up by me? I live in Donomish.
Me: Thanks, yeah, that was fun! I actually have a show in 3 weeks, a Friday night show, 8pm at the Filbert Center, it’s like $10 and you get 2 free drinks.
Them: 3 weeks? Ooooh gaaaaawsh, hmmm… We are busy that whole week with a… there’s a thing for the Donomish Woodworking Society that week. Anything else?
Me: Oh, okay. I am doing a show in 2 weeks on a Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of where you work from 11am to 2pm.
Them: 2 Wednesdays, oooh, gawsh… I am gone that day, I have to go look at wallpaper samples with a friend from High School I haven’t seen in 30 years and I am probably quitting that job, so… What else do you have, because we would LOOOOVE to catch one of your shows!
Me: Wallpaper? Well… uh… this Saturday morning I am doing a show in the garage of your neighbors, the Fardingsons, at 11am. They are serving brunch and have a massage chair for people.
Them: Ooooh, gaaawsh… THIS Saturday? Not next, THIS Saturday? Yeah, our house is gonna be fumigated on Saturday morning at 10:49, so we have to leave and decided to go to Puerto Rico for the day. What else?
Me: I’m doing a show in your living room in 4 hours.
Them: Ooooh gawsh, I, uh… my house is on fire right now. Anything else?
Me: Holy hell… Tomorrow night I have a show in Las Vegas at The Palms with Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan and Garth Brooks, but it’s sold out.
Them: That sounds fun, can you get us on the guest list for 6 people?
I took the gig because I’d heard pretty much nothing about it. It didn’t pay well (less than $80 for 30min), and it wasn’t promoted very well besides by me and the guy who books it. He’s also a comedian, and I genuinely like the dude. So the gig was taken so I could earn a couple bucks and try out a couple new bits that would take up probably 10 of the 30min.
I make jokes about how underattended my shows usually are, saying “I always promise a new perspective on everyday things from Life, and good parking at my shows.” This was no exception. All the people who asked for a local event in the past year, all but one, stayed the fuck home. Too tired. Too parented-out. Too lazy. Too catching-up-on-whateverTVshow… And I didn’t even get upset about it. There were 13 non-comedians in the seats, in a room that fits 65. Plenty of good parking.
A few very dear friends showed up and that was awesome. Totally surprised me and made me happy. The 6 gentlemen playing pool left before I could start. There were 3 other comedians which, while good for variety, cuts into the bottom line. I liked the other comics, too, but none of us were pulling butts to seats. Tis what tis.
What good is it to be able to make people laugh if there aren’t many people? I’m not gonna make the people at work laugh, that’s for sure. I would either get reprimanded by HR or the co-workers would make up some excuse to get out the door. God forbid we invest in laughter.