Road comics are the blue collar guys of the comedian totem pole. The idea of traveling around the country, making people laugh is a romantic one. The reality of the situation though is a little different.
The biggest issue I think I run into when I am on the road is the driving. In the past week I will have driven 2800 miles. A lot of it through the snowiest areas of the country, so you can’t just put it on cruise control and relax. You have to have lots of things to keep your mind off the clock. Podcast, audiobooks, terrible radio stations, you will need something. I also like to have a lot of snacks so I don’t have to stop all the time to eat.
Then there are the hotels. Most of the time, you will get a hotel as part of the gig, and you really don’t know what you are getting. This week I have gone from great to sad. Whenever I get a hotel that looks a little sketchy, I will usually just take all of my valuables with me when I leave to go somewhere. When you are on the road for 10 hours, you want to catch up on your emails and stuff, but for some reason hotels have not gotten the message that a decent wifi connection is important. If I had to give it a number, I would say that about 60% of hotels have crappy internet access. I think they just want to have a bullet point.
The least concerning thing about being a road comic is the actual show. I know that sounds weird, but after all of that travel and everything, an audience is an audience. People want to laugh, you have to be aware of the uniqueness of a new region (the midwest may not laugh at the same stuff a group in Seattle will). The thing is if you are this far in your career that you are on the road that you should know this.
Sometimes the time doesn’t add up. You travel 20 hours for 3 hours of actual work. You try to eat as cheaply as possible which means a lot of the time you eat trash, and sometimes you perform in front of a group that are just there to get away from their kids. It is not for everyone. If you imagine yourself only playing in front of adoring fans then being on the road is not for you. If you can’t budget your finances or wake up on time to hit the road then the road is not for you. If you like seeing new people and performing in the basements of pizza parlors…Then go get a Honda Civic and book some shows.