Friday August 16th, 2013 – Crystal Lake, IL
It’s easy to make fun of Branson, MO, and many people do. They talk about it being full of old people and their parents, and I guess to some degree that might be true. The acts there are geared for an older audience, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Those people need entertainment too.
As I rapidly approach geezerhood, I like the idea of how Branson operates more and more. It’s exactly the opposite formula most entertainers are used to, but I could get used to it in a big time hurry. We’re used to constantly being on the road bringing entertainment directly to the people.
Branson’s theory is to put the entertainment in one place and let the people come get it. That’s a brilliant plan, and I’m all for it. Las Vegas has done a similar formula for much longer, but it’s based around entertainment being the lure for people to gamble. In Branson, it’s the main event.
I’ve been through Branson a few times in my travels, but I haven’t worked there as of yet. I’m hoping to put it off at least a little while, so I don’t feel like I’ve been farmed out to the oatmeal circuit just yet. It’s like an AARP card. Everyone knows it’s coming, but nobody wants to get it.
The good thing about standup comedy is that it can be done a lot longer than most other forms of entertainment. Athletes are done for sure by 40, and often a lot earlier than that. Leading men and women in movies are done rather quickly too. Rock bands have been hanging around longer in recent years, but that’s too much work in my opinion. Comedy is the best long term scenario.
The worst part is the constant grind of the road. I’m feeling it now, and it’s a major issue. I still love doing the shows, but getting there is a major hassle. If I had a Branson situation where I was in a centralized location where audiences came to me that would be as close to heaven as it gets.
I was close with the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows at the Northern Lights Theatre in Milwaukee in April. That was a fun experience, and I got to stay home for the entire month. I also put together a few other gigs on the side and had a very productive month. I wish I could do that all year long.
This month has been another close to home bonanza. Last week I picked up the hosting spot at Zanies Comedy Club at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL. That’s about an hour drive from where I live, and I’m very much at home there. I made solid money to stay local, and I loved it.
Tonight I had another local show at The Raue Center in Crystal Lake, IL. I’ve worked there for years, and it’s always a glitch free positive experience. They book quality acts there and charge a substantial price, which results in audiences that pay attention because they made a commitment.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad show there, and the crowds are fantastic. They’re a bit older as a rule, but not walkers and blue hair old. There are people in their twenties sprinkled in, but most of the people range from about 35 to 65. I’m right in their wheel house, and I do well every time.
What’s even better is that it’s maybe 25 minutes from home. I was off stage by 10:15 and after stopping for something to eat I still made it home before midnight. I could get used to this really fast - like today. How many times have I had a red hot show like this but had to drive the whole night and get home after sunrise? TOO many. I’m sold on keeping it close to home. I have more than enough road stories to last me six more lifetimes. It would be a much bigger treat to be able to enjoy my life in one place for a change. It doesn’t have to be Branson. I’m fine where I am.