Saturday, August 05, 2006

Connie the Cantankerous

Definition: Cantankerous
  • bloody-minded: stubbornly obstructive and unwilling to cooperate
  • having a difficult and contrary disposition
Being the booker of a club can be good and bad.....

Meeting Connie was definitely one of the bad things.

Now I'm going to tell you that I normally do not speak to comics that are interested in working at Wits End on the phone. It's not that I am being anti-social (which would be true in most cases), it is because there would not be enough time in a day to talk to them all.

Comics are the telemarketers of the comedy world, but unlike regular telemarketers they are much more persistent. And I don't blame them, I'm a comic too and making calls is what you have to do to get work. You see there is a glut of sorts in the comedy world. There are more comedians than work available. Add to that all the people that think they are funny and the number is huge. So how do I book comics you ask?

That great and wonderful place called the Internet. I have a special web site that I use. That along with email is all I need. I actually speak to very few comics on the phone and I like it that way.

My motto is the same as every other bookers on the planet. Don't call me, I'll call you (if I feel like it). The only difference between me and many of the other bookers is that at least I am up front and honest about it.

Now I have never seen Connie the Cantankerous do comedy but I am going to tell you I'm pretty sure she is in the "I think I'm funny group". And by the time I finish this blog I believe you will feel the same way.

So as I said, normally I would not take a call from a comic wanting to work at Wits End. There would be 3 reasons for that; the first being that comics do not have my number (I am almost never at the club); the 2nd being if I took every call I wouldn't have time to do anything else and finally as I explained before, I do all that on the Internet.

But this woman was given my personal and private number by my old friend and comedy mentor Brad Hartman. So I figured if Brad felt I should talk to her there must be good reason.

This is how the call went.....

(Lot's of paraphrasing going on in this dialog)

Me: This is Vilmos, can I help you?

CC: My name is Connie and I was given your name by Brad Hartman. He thought that you would be able to help me get an opening week at Wits End.

Me: Well Connie I would like to help but I only book the Feature and Headline acts. All of the openers for the club are booked by the manager Don Walters.

I'm thinking: I'm going to get a little information on her experience. That way I can give Don a heads up after I get off the phone with her.

Me: So Connie where have you worked?

CC: Well I've never worked at a club before, but I have done guest sets and killed.

I'm thinking: Well she probably doesn't have the experience to work at the club. So now would be a good time to suggest she get a guest set at our place to audition for work. I'm doubting she has the "chops". Someone that "kills" every time they are on stage almost never mentions it. Plus if she was killing doing guest sets she would at least be working as an opener/MC. Club managers and bookers do not ignore women comics that kill. Women comics (in general) are in short supply and high demand.

Me: It would be a good idea for you to get a guest set at the club and let Don see you perform. That would help you get a week.

CC: I don't think I should have to do that. After all, I've been doing comedy since 1995 and I kill every time I'm on stage. I'm always better than the Feature acts that follow me. The reason I'm not being booked is because I'm a tall and aggressive woman. I'm 6'3" and that intimidates men. That's why they never book me.

I'm thinking: If you were that good you would be working for sure. I'm guessing that you have an inflated view of how well you do on stage. That's why you are not working. Plus I can already tell you are a pain in the ass. Gee, that makes you a VERY desirable comic to work with.

Me: So you are saying that you should actually be Featuring?

CC: Absolutely, like I told you before, men are intimidated by me. I consistently kill and am better than Feature acts that are working. I am not getting booked because I am a tall woman.....

Me: Well Connie with all due respect.....

I'm thinking: OK the disclaimer is out there.

Me: ...... there is a definite progression in comedy and everyone does it the same way. You start as an open micer for a couple years. Then work as an opener for a few years. Then if you are doing well enough you start to Feature at one-nighters and some clubs. That's the way it works for everyone.

CC: But I've been doing comedy for 15 years and I don't need to be opening. I should be Featuring.

I'm thinking: OK, this girl is clueless. Maybe I can straighten her out so she doesn't make a fool of herself.

Me: But I don't think you understand. No one goes straight from open mic to Feature. It just doesn't happen. I know over 500 comics and not one of them has skipped a step. Everyone has done it the same way; open mic-opener-feature. There is no other way.

Note: What follows is a 10 minutes exchange. I explaining the way things work in the comedy business. She telling me I am not listening to her and that I am ignoring her reality. The entire time she is letting me know I have no idea what I'm talking about.

and the conversation continues.....

CC: I thought they were going to offer me a week at the Colorado Springs club but I can't work the Friday and Saturday shows. I have a regular gig. I'm a musician and those shows pay my bills. I can't take that time off.

Me: Well no one is going to hire you if you cannot work the weekend shows. There would be no point in hiring you and then having to find someone to work those shows.

CC: But you are not listening, I need that money. That's why I have to play music.

Me: Yes I heard you but sacrifice is a part of the business. It is a part of making it. No one makes money as an opener. We can't go to college to learn this. This is how we "pay" for our education.

CC: Well I am just not willing to do that.

Me: Well then comedy is not for you.

CC: But that is where my heart is telling me to go.....

Me: Well maybe you heart is wrong. If your heart told you to start blowing men in public would you feel the need to do that too?

CC: You are just like the rest of them. You are intimidated by me because I am a tall and strong woman.

Me: How can I be intimidated by your height. I've never seen you before and I'm talking to you on the phone. You could be a midget for all I know.

Note: Begin another 5 minutes of her talking over everything I say.

Me: (While she continues to speak): It is apparent to me that you are not willing to learn how the business works and you don't want to hear what I have to say. Good luck, I'm done trying to talk to you about this.


The moral of the story is if you want to work anywhere you need to go find out what the company wants and work within their framework. Being belligerent and contrary will not get you anywhere.

She called back 5 minutes later (probably because she continued talking until the phone started making funny noises) and left a message for me. Her message was.....

"It was rude for you to hang up on me and it was not a pleasure talking to you."

Funny thing, I felt the same way, but there is a small difference. I will be headlining a club next week and still will be booking on of the finest clubs in the country.

She on the other hand will be playing music at a pizza parlor in Colorado Springs Friday and Saturday.

Now who is it that knows what they are talking about?

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