Sunday, February 16, 2014

No Rape Tonight

Friday February 14th, 2014 – Loves Park, IL

   Valentine’s Day is usually a pretty strong night for comedy, and tonight I had a booking in of all places Loves Park, IL. It was a country club gig, and those have a tendency to go either way in extremes. They’re impossible to predict, and can be beyond horrific or off the charts fantastic.

   Many a night have I toiled in sweat in front of stodgy white people with money who could not relate for the life of them the struggles of Mr. Lucky’s life. They sat there in unimpressed silence as I gave everything I had to entertain them, and then I slinked off the stage to collect my check.

   I’ve done golf outings where 95% of the audience is staggering drunk after a day on the course, and the other 5% can’t stay awake for the show. Country clubs have their own set of rules to live by, and it takes a long time to learn them. I’ve had plenty of experience, most of it quite painful.

   The good part is, they usually pay pretty well – at least to the person booking it. If that isn’t the actual performer, there is quite often ripe opportunity for downright rape. One of my first gigs at a country club many years ago paid me $250 which was good money for that time. I found out at the end of the night the serpent who booked me had sold me for $1250. Welcome to show biz.

  Performing conditions can often be less than primitive as well. They’re not in the entertainment business, so more often than not the lights and sound are of World War II surplus vintage. That’s come to be expected whenever I perform at one now, and much more often than not I am right.

   There are often other pitfalls to working country clubs as well - one of the main ones being the serving of food and/or dessert during the show. Live performance is difficult enough. Attempting to perform live standup comedy is harder than that. Doing it while people are eating is insanity.

   On the other hand, I’ve had some of my very best shows ever at country clubs. They were full of people who had a sense of humor and wanted to be entertained. They were pillars in the town, and had a clue of how life worked. Most of them owned businesses, and had read a newspaper.

   I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect tonight. I booked this show myself through a guy that had used several comedians from Zanies in Chicago, and was originally from there. He was very nice on the phone, but I could tell he wasn’t sure if I could do the job. He was apprehensive.

   To make sure it would go well, I hired my friend Jimmy McHugh to open the show. He’s given me all kinds of work in the last few years, so I told him I’d split the money 50/50. I know I didn’t have to do that, but he’s a headliner in his own right, and I wanted everyone to come out happy.

   Boy, did we. This was one of those nights when everything went right, and we both knocked it so far out of the park we couldn’t see where it landed. It was the perfect lineup of comedians for the perfect audience. On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d give it a 26 - and I’m always very hard on myself.

   This was just one of those nights that a performer lives for. Everything was working, and it was pure fun for everyone. Jimmy had to work to get them focused and he did exactly that. He earned every penny of his pay, but so did I. And I didn’t have to get raped by any booker. What a night!

Comedy and country club audiences are often a poor fit. Imagine a whole room full of Judge Smales from "Caddyshack".

I brought my friend Jimmy McHugh along to insure a solid show. He did a masterful job as usual.

At the end of the evening, everyone walked out with smiles on our faces. What a night! THIS is why I do what I do!

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