Friday November 23rd, 2012 – Springfield, IL
I am thoroughly delighted to be making a return to Donnie B’s Comedy Club in Springfield, IL this weekend. I can’t say enough good things about this place, and I wish every last comedy club in America would take lessons from Donnie B on both how to run a business and people skills.
This guy just knows how to do it right. I loved it the last time I was here, and it was even better this time around. He has since changed locations, and now the club and hotel are side by side in a place called the Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center. That’s always a welcomed convenience.
The other club was very nice as was the hotel, but being in the same building makes it so much easier. I can go back to the room between shows and relax, take a shower, whatever. I also don’t have to worry about getting to the club in traffic, finding parking or many other annoying things.
An example of how well Don pays attention to detail, when I checked into my hotel room there was a business card sized piece of paper in with my room key card letting me know the club was now located in the hotel and their hours of operation. How smart is that? Every club that’s part of a hotel complex should absolutely do the same, but I’ve very rarely seen it done in all my years.
The new room seats about 100 more people than the other one, and there was a much healthier audience for the first show than I expected on a holiday weekend. Not only were there more than I expected, they were polite and smart and ready to laugh. Don hosts the shows and warms up his audiences, and also trains them how to behave during the shows. Over time, this pays a dividend.
The late show wasn’t as well attended, but there were still a respectable number who were also there to see a show. The typical late show Friday in a comedy club can be a babysitting of drunks but not here. They were totally into the show, and I had an absolute blast – so much so that I took it upon myself to see how much different material I could pull out since Donnie B was watching.
Not many club owners watch all the shows, but Donnie B is not the typical owner. He wants to see how his audiences react to the comedians he uses so he knows who to bring back. He knows who his clientele is, and busts his ass to please them so they’ll keep coming back. And they do.
I also thought it was good practice to stretch out a little and use some material I hadn’t used in a while to keep in practice. I’d say I was able to do 95% different material in the late show, and it felt great to do that – especially knowing that headliners need to do 60 rather than 45 minute sets. That’s another smart move on his part. He gives the audience more comedy and less bad openers.
I really had fun both shows tonight, and as I was on stage I wished it could be like this in every club in every town. I know I won’t have to fight for my pay at the end of the week, and it will be the exact amount we agreed on. There will be no hassles, and that’s exactly how it should work.
It doesn’t, and that’s just how it is. I will enjoy this weekend as much as I can, and hope I’ll be able to make this a regular stop for a long time. Now, I just have to find 51 more weeks like this.