Friday June 5th, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN
There are three specific weeks each year in the comedy business that are especially difficult to find work of any kind much less quality work. In no particular order those weeks are Christmas, Halloween and the 4th of July. Comedy clubs traditionally don’t do well on any of those weeks.
I’d have to look at my records, but I can’t recall off the top of my head when I’ve been booked all three of those weeks in the same year. It may well have happened back in the boom years, but I don’t recall it happening in at least a dozen. Any time I can score even one is quite noteworthy.
This year I happened to score a cherry weekend booking in Indianapolis at a brand new venue called “Latitude 39”, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Any booking at all would have been really appreciated, but this one was way beyond expectations in many ways. I’m thrilled to receive it.
Everything about this booking was dead on. First off, there was a contract involved, and that’s a rarity in itself. Standup comedy - at least at the club level - has traditionally not used a written contract of any kind, and it’s been that way for as long as I’ve been around. A verbal agreement between act and venue is binding, and there have been remarkably few issues with that system.
Anyone I’ve ever met who hasn’t dealt with the business at the club level thinks this method of conducting business is asking for disaster, and I can’t say I disagree. There really is no reason for it other than that’s the way we’ve always done it. It does save on paperwork, but that’s about it.
Looking back, it does seem more than slightly ridiculous how many total strangers I’ve trusted implicitly to pay me a specific fee they said they would over an unrecorded phone conversation. I’ve travelled all over North America with deals like this, and so have countless other comedians.
As the internet came of age, we began to get bookings via email rather than phone calls, and at least there was usually some kind of written proof that an agreement had been made and for what amount. That’s still how it is today, but the more I think about it the more insane I still think it is.
It wasn’t that way with this gig, and that made me take notice. They were total professionals in all their dealings, and I was very impressed. They sent me a contract to sign weeks ago, and I did exactly that. It was nothing complicated, but it covered everything from what I was to be paid to what was expected of me as far as amount of shows, length of performances and things like that.
I was fine with everything, and we both had copies so there was no confusion. I could get used to that very easily, and with some of the experiences I’ve had in the last year or two I think it’s a very wise idea to have a contract every week. I did get scorched badly by a deal last year where a contract was signed, but I should have gotten a deposit beforehand. That was an ugly scenario.
This was completely different and everything about it was a pleasant surprise. They put us in a fantastic Hyatt hotel about a minute from the venue, and I get to work with Brian Hicks, a super nice guy and a rock solid act. I couldn’t have asked for anything better, except the week we were booked. This just happens to be one of those three tough to draw weeks, and it’s nobody’s fault.
Still, we had about 100 people in a gorgeous venue with a huge stage and an outstanding sound and light system. The manager apologized for the small crowd, but Brian and I were very excited to have such a nice crowd to perform for. This is a well run facility, and I wish them big success.