Sunday, August 19 - Safely in Portland. Probably in a coffee shop somewhere.
And now my first summer of touring as a professional stand-up comic is over. 33 days on the road, 40 shows, 1,370 miles driven, 7,718 miles flown, and $2,392 earned for 886 minutes of joke telling. If traveling was free and instant, that'd be an impressive $161.99 / hour.
But at this point you've heard enough about my financial situation. What you really want to know about is the sex and the drugs. Now that I've gotten enough shows under my belt, I can finally tell you a couple of things I saw without giving away the identity of the people involved. So now I'm finally ready to answer the questions YOU want me to answer.
The only trouble is you didn't ask me any questions so I'm going to have to make them up.
Q: Are there groupies?
A: Yes. Being a comedian is much like being in a band. Women (and men) have asked me outright to have sex with them after seeing me perform. But remember, not all musicians are lead singers. Comics are more akin to trombone players in ska bands; there are people who will throw themselves at us, but not the choosy ones.
Since I'm new to this game and getting married soon, I ask every comedian I work with for advice about touring when you have a family. One headliner told me "The key is getting lots of road strange." Then he proceeded to tell me an entertaining story about taking a phone call while he had two women in his hotel room. They, apparently, had enough experience with infidelity to know that they should be quiet while he said goodnight to his kids and then not mention it for the rest of the threesome.
Q: Are all comedians scumbags?
A: Nope, just that one. I had another comedian tell me the key was dirty texting with your wife so you're really wound up when you get home to her. Some advice is better than others.
Q: Are there drugs everywhere?
Find out... AFTER THE JUMP.
Q: So? Are there drugs everywhere?
A: Yes and no. I've heard stories of comics from the 80s and early 90s walking into green rooms to find a pile of cocaine being split between the club owner and a police officer. I've never seen anything like that, but a club manager did ask me to do mushrooms with him before I went on stage. Like hotel threesomes, this didn't seem like a good personal or professional decision.
Q: Do comedians pay taxes?
A: Not usually. Okay, you would never ask that, but I thought it was interesting. Even those that report their income usually don't have to pay taxes until late in their careers. The mileage from traveling allows you to write off way more than you make. Take that, revenuers.
Q: Lying, cheating, and stealing. See much of it?
A: No, I didn't. And I don't like this new casual tone you've adopted.
Actually, I saw one of the greatest things ever at a show here in Portland. As you may recall, the merch guy who didn't perform kept getting confused with a comedian who did perform because both were black and Portlanders aren't very astute. After one show, an audience member told the merch guy "you did a great job" and handed him a $20 tip. Moments later, Mr. Merch searched out the comedian in the bar and gave him the $20. I thought that was impressively classy.
Q: Wait... I'm supposed to tip comedians?
A: I wouldn't say should. But it does happen and we certainly appreciate it. Or just buy a sticker.
Q: What about club owners? Are they terrible people?
A: Not that I could tell. Everybody treated me really well. On the other hand, many owners and bookers talk WAY too much. Because everybody wants something from them, nobody's ever told them they're boring. I want something from them too, so if you're reading this and you're an owner, manager, or booker, I'm not talking about you. Your stories are great.
Q: So what's next for you?
A: More of the same. I've got some work booked over the next six months, but not as consistently as it was this summer. Next year will be busy.