Sunday December 8th, 2013 – Island Lake, IL
When I started doing comedy in Milwaukee, all I wanted was to be the best comedian in town. I thought if I could achieve that, everything else would take care of itself. I’d eventually achieve my goal after several years of struggle, but it didn’t mean anything. I had been chasing the wind.
Then I moved to Chicago aiming to be one of the top comedians there. I realized it was a much bigger city, and claiming the top spot might not be realistic. Still, I did manage to become one of the top acts in town but it got me even less than it did in Milwaukee. I’d pursued the wrong goal.
I’m very proud of how far I’ve come as a performer, and there is a tremendous personal delight and satisfaction in knowing I have been able to live my original dream. Now I need to establish a new dream and make that one reality. From now on, I aim to be the very best MARKETED act.
Wow, what a difference that will make. I always assumed marketing would take care of itself, and if I was the best comedian around people would just find me. Nothing could be further from the truth, and what a painful realization that was and still is. The good thing is is that it’s fixable.
The first item that needs fixing is my title. ‘Comedian’ is akin to ’witch’, ‘leper’ or ‘pedophile’ when it comes to landing highly paid corporate work. Unfortunately, I clearly see why this is and I get it. The word itself has been forever linked to ‘dirty’ or ‘filthy’, and there’s no going back.
I had nothing to do with this negative association, but it absolutely exists and I need to avoid it like the plague for business purposes. In my heart I’m proud to be a comedian, but that won’t fly with those who hire entertainment. As with ‘gay’, the definition has totally changed over time.
Perception is reality, and I can’t change it. People who have a significant amount of money to spend on comedy related entertainment will gladly hire a ‘humorist’ or ‘humorous speaker’, but shudder at the thought of a ‘comedian’. ‘Comedians’ tell dirty jokes in honky tonks and saloons.
That’s the perception in a business environment, and I’m not going to try to fight it. I’ll let them call me anything they want if it will get me hired, but that’s when I’ll really shine because I have the skills to pull off exactly what they want. I have thirty years experience as a live entertainer.
Whether they know it or not, I’m able to deliver a funny show without swearing once. That’s a daunting task, to which any professional will attest. I was never a ‘dirty act’ in a club setting, but these people don’t know it. From now on, I won’t refer to myself by that term. It’s career-o-cide.
Next on the list of things to fix is finding out who books humorous speakers and getting myself on their radar with a positive association. They don’t know me from Adam but I’m sure there are a lot of mediocre acts in that area just as there are in comedy clubs. Being funny to strangers isn’t easy in any arena, and the supply of quality is always lower than the demand. I have to stand out.
My new ‘pit crew’ Eric Feinendegen is helping me in this area. He’s a speaker himself, and he comes from a corporate environment which will be a huge help. He’s got contacts with people in places I’ve never approached, and that’s exactly what I need. I’m finally chasing the right dream!
|"Humorists" and "humorous speakers" get paid on average far more than "comedians". After thirty years, I am no longer a comedian from this moment forward.|