Friday May 2nd, Caledonia, MI
Day two of the renegade comedy tour, and it’s going really well. Last night in Grandville, MI was a blast, and that’s a suburb of Grand Rapids. Tonight I was in Caledonia, which is just a bit farther out but still in the Grand Rapids radar. The show was at a place called “Family Tavern”.
That seems like an oxymoron, but I’d work places like this every night of the year and be able to survive quite nicely. It’s a bar and restaurant owned by a very nice lady named Jodi that is a former college basketball player. Her place is not huge, but there is a basement that is equipped with a separate bar, stage and sound that can seat about 100. It’s a perfect fit for comedy shows.
100 people or thereabouts is a totally livable number believe it or not. Yes, we all fantasize of performing in front of a gigantic theatre packed with 3,000 fans, but unless one is a big name it’s just not going to happen. That doesn’t mean we have to quit the business, as very few ever get to that point. There’s the dream world of show business, and there’s making a living every month.
I’ve had all I can handle to be able to scrape up that living month after month and haven’t been able to spend a lot of time working on filling those big arenas. That might be part of the problem, but the truth is it really isn’t necessary to survive. If I could get 100 people a night to pay a cover charge of $5-$10 to see me on a consistent basis I’d be living in a higher tax bracket. Bring it on!
That’s a lot harder than it sounds though, and in all honesty it’s probably a better pursuit to try for the big venues in the long run. Tonight was an example of how it can really work well for all parties involved though, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Start to finish, this was a total success.
First off, Jodi was behind Jerry Donovan and they worked as a team. Jerry said she was not up for it at first when he initially approached her, but he convinced her to try one night and it was an off the charts grand slam home run. Then she was on board, and they have done eight hot shows.
Jodi’s customers love it, and pack the place on comedy night. She is also drawing new ones in that have now been exposed to what she does. She has an outstanding food menu, and I wouldn’t expect that for such an out of the way small place. That food is up there with the best restaurants.
It is a restaurant technically, but I would never have thought to go there had I been out looking for a place to eat. I would have assumed it was a shot and a beer joint, and gone elsewhere. Now Jodi is bringing in customers for comedy that will try her delicious food and turn into regulars.
Unfortunately, Jodi and Jerry are a lot smarter than the average bar owner/booker combination and that’s why there aren’t more of these hidden little gems. They only do shows once a month, but that’s enough in a town and venue this size. It’s just the right amount, and everybody wins.
Another advantage Jerry has is that he hosts many of his own shows. He’s a solid headliner as well, but having an experienced host in situations like this helps train the audiences to know how to behave. It was a treat for me to have a solid host, and together we blew the roof off the joint.
Ed Bartko was the feature, a very nice guy out of Toledo who is 52 and started comedy later in life. He’s very enthusiastic, and funny too. It was a super night, and everyone was happy. What’s not to like about nights like this? Give me 350 a year, and I’ll shut my mouth. They’re out there.
|Just 100 people a night paying a reasonable cover charge will make a nice living for any entertainer - but it's a lot more difficult to pull off than it may sound.|
|That's about the number there were at the Family Tavern in Caledonia, MI tonight, and it was a super show - and great food too! www.thefamilytavern.com.|