Friday, March 17, 2006

The Fall Out

When you clicked on this blog listing you probably thought it was a post mortem on my week in Albuquerque.


Actually fall-out is the last word anyone wants to hear in the comedy business and it doesn't matter whether you are a comic, a booker or a club owner. It comes from the expression "my gig fell out" Meaning for whatever reason, the job you were expecting to work will no longer happen. Now this can happen for many reasons most of them not good ones.

For comics it can happen if:

  • The club you were supposed to work at closed
  • There was a double booking. Meaning you and another comic were both booked for the same gig and the other guy was chosen for the work
  • You were bumped for a special show. Sometimes a club will bring in a big name at the last minute and cancel whoever was supposed to work that week to make room.
  • The show was just cancelle
For clubs (or bookers) it means the comic is not showing up. Those reasons are:
  • The comic took other work for more money
  • The comic double booked themselves and the other club was more important to them
  • Transportation problems
  • Illness.
  • The comic is an idiot.
I will be discussing illness in this blog.

I was waiting to go onstage in Albuquerque Friday night. It just before I was going to walk on stage. I feel the phone in my pocket vibrating and out of habit I answered it. I shouldn't have because it was "Mr. Stress".

"I just got a call from Mary, she's in the hospital and won't be able to do the show tomorrow night" 'he tells me. At this point I only have enough time to tell him I'll call him back after I got on stage. Just when I hang up I hear "And now coming to the stage ..." I'm thinking I better get this out of my head so I can do my show. Because you got to be focused to do a good show.

After my set I called "Mr. Stress" back and he gave me the whole story. But first I need to give you a little information.

One of the ways comedy clubs earn income is through what we call corporates or privates. It's a generic term that refers to any event where we send a comedian outside of our club to perform comedy. It can be for just about anything. Dinners, birthday's parties, luncheons, and the list could go on forever. It's amazing the events people want to have a comic perform at.

Now when someone contacts the club for something like this is very important to match the right comic with the group. Some comedians are not well suited for these kinds of things. They may not be able to work clean enough or for whatever reason, have the wrong kind of act.

So we had scheduled Mary (I have changed her name because I don't want to talk about her medical problem in a public forum) for a local fire departments woman's appreciation night. The guys in the department have a night every year for their wives and girlfriends and decided they would like to get a comedian as a part of their entertainment.

So I booked a show with Mary as a headliner. Thinking since it was going to be a "ladies night out" that would be the best show for them. I have done this before with Mary and she did a great job.

Now back to our story.....

So "Mr. Stress" gives me the rest of the story. It seems Mary called the club upset and crying about 10:30pm. She told "The Bulldog" that she had colitis and it was so bad she had to go to the hospital. Now I'm going to admit that when I first heard that I thought Colitis! That's not so bad. She's just needs to tough it out! But that was the guy in me, the "walk it off" thing. Once I was able to shake that bad thought out of my head I told "Mr. Stress" I would get right on it.

Did I mention that it's now 11:30pm on Friday night and the show is only 21 hours away on Saturday night at 8:30pm?

So now what do I do?

Well, the first think is to notify my customer and make sure they know what's going on. The next thing is to get someone to replace Mary. That is going to be the hardest part because there are not a lot female comics in Denver that can work with no notice. You see most comics are booked around 6 months in advance. And I hate to say it but of the ones in town very few could do an hour that would be satisfactory for this event.

My contact for this event is a nice guy named Joshua and I'm not calling him at midnight to deliver this news. So I went back to the condo and fired off an email just letting him know what happened and told him that I would contact him in the morning. It's too late to start contacting comedians but I start building the short list in my head and go to bed. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a long day.

I'm up in the morning by 7:00am but there is no point in getting started yet because it's too early. I figure I can't call Joshua until around 9:00am and there's no way I'm going to get a hold of any comic before 10:00am on a Saturday morning. We all work late and sleeping in is a requirement. I think I'm one of the few that ever sees the Today show.

So I wait until about 9:00 and call our contact for the event. After explaining the situation to him he authorizes me to find someone else. The truth is at this point he really doesn't have much of a choice. They've been planning this for months and it will be too late to make a change in entertainment. He really has his back up against the wall and has to trust that I will be able to get another suitable act in place at such sort notice.

I'm happy he has faith in me because at this point I'm not so sure things are going to turn out well.

Now it is time to look at the list of comedians I feel would be able to do this show. I of course want to replace Mary with another woman. After all it is a women's appreciation night. The bad news here is that my list of women that would be available is small. In fact, there is only one person on it. So I call her cell phone. She answers and I ask her, so where are you working this week? Tampa Florida is her response. There goes my hope of having a woman do this gig.

At this point I only need to find one comic that can do a clean 30 minute show that will be liked by these women. I already had scheduled an opener for this event and his name is J Marc. Now J is a big black man with a shaved head that the ladies really like. He is more than capable of doing 30 minutes but 60 minutes is out of his range at this time.

So now I have to get the rest of my list out. And I start making the calls. I get lucky early and get a hold of another one of our Feature acts at the club. His name is Jay Benedict Brown. Jay does a very clean show and is a good fit. Best of all, he is available!

Now that I have the 2 comics lined up it is time to call back the customer. I explain what we are going to do and he agrees. All I have to do is make a couple more calls.

I get back with Jay Benedict Brown and work out all the other arrangements. Payment, contact information, how much time I expect him to do and what my expectations are. Then I call J Marc and explain to him that he will be doing a little more time and making a little more money. You see comics are paid based on the amount of time of their show. So in the beginning he was only going to do 15 minutes to warm up the crowd. Now I want him to do 30 so his pay will be doubled.

I also told J Marc that if things aren't going well to start stripping. I asked him if he needed an allowance for a g-string but he told me if he had to he would "free ball'n" it. I felt so much better after hearing that. It's good to know I'm working with a professional.

So in the end everything turned out just fine. The comics had a great time and the feedback I got from our contact at the fire department was good.

And no one saw J Marc's balls.

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