My Favorite Things…of 2017

This is not my typical post.  Instead of comedy, I am going to be listing my favorite things, so from gadgets, to comedy specials, to movies, I am listing it here.  I will have links if I can, so you can see it up close if you want.  Here we go!

Sony A7RIII:  Granted, this is not cheap, but if you are into cameras then you can not go wrong with this.  I love the 4k, I love the photos that I have taken with it.  It is an excellent camera.

Panasonic GH5:  Still expensive, but is cheaper than the above camera, the GH5 is a great stills camera, but an even better video camera.  It is light weight so you can take it with, and I recorded my documentary with it.

Dave Chappelle’s Specials:  These were both great and an awesome comeback from a legend in stand-up.

Jerry Before Seinfeld:  I loved the insight that he gives about his process and his life, and the material was awesome as well.

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King:  This was a touching stand up special as well as funny.

Michael Che Matters: He does more than just read teleprompters people! Great special.

Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog Gossip and Trickery:  We got a lot of specials from heavy weights in the comedy industry and this was another great one.

Rory Scovel Tries Stand-up For The First Time:  This may have been one of my favorites.  Going in, I didn’t know much about him, but his style won me over.  I am not a big fan.

Split:  Great movie, with a nice little twist at the end.

Logan:  It is the end of an era, but what a great way to go out!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2: What can you say?  Perfect summer movie!

Wonder Woman: As you can see I like super hero movies!  This was maybe the best of the year.

Nintendo Switch: I love video games and this was one great console.

 

Thanks for checking out the blog this year.  I hope you continue to do so, and if you know of someone that wants a little more insight into comedy, then send them this way.  Thanks and see you in 2018!

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Times, They Are Changing

For a decade, Uncle D’s Comedy Underground WAS comedy on the east side of Washington state.  They didn’t bring in the bigger names in comedy, mainly due to the size of the room and budget, but it was a place for comics, young and old alike, to perfect their craft and get paid to perform.  Uncle D’s final show was last Thursday and it was bittersweet.  It allowed me a place to perfect jokes and meet other comedians.  It was inviting, and helped newer comedians gain confidence on stage.  Some saw it as an establishment very much stuck in the old ways of comedy.  Not much in the way of social networking, or advertisement, for most people, learning that Uncle D’s is no more, is like learning a semi famous actor died.  You thought they died a long time ago.

People not from the area, dismissed the club for a number of reasons.  They may not have liked the owner, or the fact that the acts where mainstays of the 80’s and 90’s, but for most of us that lived in Spokane, it was all we had.  That club was the only place in betweeners like me could get paid to headline.  It was the only place for some comics who only have 15-20 minutes to get actual work.  For these things it will always be remembered.

Even before Uncle D announced he was closing his doors, the Spokane Comedy Club was pulling into town to start what perhaps might be the best attempt at live comedy in the city.  Within three weeks they have brought in big comedy names and have more lined up.  This is the club Spokane, and Spokane comedians, have been begging for.  But the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

For Spokane, it establishes it as a city.  A big city.  All the other big cities have comedy clubs where big names come through town to be gawked at.  Spokane has to learn, and learn quickly, that this comes with a price.  In order to see these big names, you have to pay big(ger) prices.  No longer will you pay $12 in order to see generic “comedy”.  You will pay to see these guys live that you normally see on TV.  To me, that is worth it.  I would love to see Chris D’Elia live for 30-40 bucks, but I love comedy.  Spokane is also gaining a reputation as a city of people that don’t know how to shut up when a show is going.  No matter how many signs, or videos tell them otherwise, their always seems to be one guy or gal in the crowd that wants everyone to know their garage was blown over in the windstorm of 2015.

The local comedians will be in for a surprise as well.  No longer will it be acceptable to run the light as long as you wish, and have no worries about not being able to go up next week.  The open mic will be ran like it is ran in larger cities.  You run the light, you don’t go up next week.  Another thing that comedians will have to learn to live with is the fact that their decent 10 minutes is not going to get them featured in this club.  The product is better, so the comedians have to be better.  I think I said this in an earlier article, but there are comedians in this town that feel like a new club means a new person that will deal with their bullshit.  The issue is that this is not a new club owner.  Adam, runs another club, and he has dealt with some really big names, what makes anyone think he will put up with the old Spokane comic bullshit?  These guys are in it to run a business, not a daycare for comedians, and it will hit some right in the chest when they realize this.

Times are changing.  There is a newer crop of comedians that are running their own shows and making names for themselves.  There is a new comedy club that is bringing some of the biggest acts in the country.  This will most likely have a trickle down effect.  Independent shows will likely see an increase in attendance because people will want to see comedy.  Last weeks Drink N Debate was a testament to that.  Things change, except the things that don’t, like working on material, and gaining an audience are still fundamental parts of being a comedian.  I hope the city and the comedians within it realize what a unique situation we see ourselves in.

Heartbreak Motel

I came in 7th in the 2015 San Francisco Comedy Competition.  I tried my best, I think.  I left the state of California with a check and a broken heart.  The last time I felt this way was when I didn’t get into the finals of the Spokane Comedy Competition all those years ago.  Personally, I thought I was good enough to be in the top five, but the judges thought otherwise.

When you get your ass handed to you like this, you start to wonder if your head is to big, or you think more highly of your abilities than you should.  The second to last night I put on a performance that I thought was worthy of placing.  I felt good about it and the crowd buzzed.  I can’t explain it, but you could feel the energy coming off the audience.  I didn’t place that night, and I was just a zombie driving back to the hotel room.  I couldn’t believe it.  I kept questioning the things in my head.  Did they not believe I had a heart attack?  Did they not like the description of child birth?  Do I look too stupid?  All these thoughts popped in my head, I was just heartbroken, like a love had just left me.

I wanted to make the finals so the comics in Spokane could be proud of me honestly.  A lot will tell me I did alright to my face, but when they are with others, they will let the truth be known.

I won a prize for my photography at the fair!  It wasn’t for placing it was like a consideration award.  My photos were posted for all to see.  That is what I really liked.  My eye basically shown to the rest of Spokane. It was a great feeling.

I got accepted into Idaho Laughfest down in Boise Idaho.  I am excited.  Why?  Because it is a festival and not a competition!  I can just go there and do my thing and not worry about scores and stuff.  I can also hang out with the comics without that layer of competitiveness seeping through.

I am for real for real gonna start the podcast….soon.

Instilling Confidence In Your Child

I took my child to Seattle for a couple of days.  I was afraid.  This is the longest I have ever been with her alone in years.  She is a teenager and teenage things have happened, but one thing that bothers me is her reluctance to do the things she loves when someone is watching.  For example:  She loves to sing.  She wants to sing for a living.  She even sings in front of hundreds of people yearly at the Christmas concert the school puts on, but yet she will freak out if someone is watching her sing.  My argument is that one or many, you have to be able to perform without getting cold feet.  I don’t know if I am a good person to be telling her this because I just started having confidence in myself.  For decades I have been beating myself up.  Never doing the things I loved because I was afraid of how people would receive me.  It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I found enough courage to do something that I liked.  I don’t want her to end up like me.  Wanting to make music, but was too scared to do anything about it.  She is a teenager, so of course she thinks I am talking out of my ass.  I want her to realize it before it’s too late.

The hotel we are at has the worse internet.  You would think that hotels would get this shit right, but 4 out of 10 hotels have great internet.  The rest feels like they just bought a normal home router and set it up under a table or something.  Hotels just get internet so they can put that up as a feature.  The problem is once I try your internet, I will not come back to your hotel again.  Fix that shit.  Some people want to watch YouTube.

I have just been picking up shows out of the blue.  Why?  Because persistence pays off!  I have been sending emails to these bookers for months and I picked up a couple weeks of work.  Well, it actually happened that I sent them an email and they just happened to have open dates.  I filled them.  So I was probably more lucky then impressive.  I got my foot in the door though.  Now time to knock it down!!

 

Comedy In Portland

I have experienced two shows in Portland.  One professional show and one open mic and I was very impressed.  The open mic was at Helium Comedy Club.  It is a really nice club and they ran a damn good open mic.  They had 25 people and got them all in in under 2 hours!  That just can’t happen in Spokane.  That would have been 2 and a half to 3 hours and I think it is because they are hardcore about their rules.  If you are not there by a certain time then you don’t get to go on.  If you go over the time, then you will not be put on the list next time.  I think that is something that Spokane should adopt.  They gave the more established comedians more time.  I thought that was fair.  You get what you earned.  I only talked to a handful of comics, but they were cool.

The professional show was hosted and put together by Todd Armstrong and it was really good.  The audience for both the open mic and the pro show was great.  I got to see Freddie Walker and he just looked like Portland was where he was supposed to be.  In Spokane, I think people were thrown off a little bit by his absurd material.  In a larger city, you will probably get more of an audience that will appreciate what you are doing.

I haven’t travelled that much through Portland, so I haven’t taken that many pictures, but I do love the city.  The traffic isn’t murder like Seattle.  They only have one photo shop that was alright.  The other two that I checked out were not that good.  They were tiny and didn’t have a used section.

I am going to go see if there is an open mic I can check out in a place that isn’t as top shelf as Helium.  I will probably be able to see another side of Portland comedy.  See ya Monday!

When Is It Time To Start Getting Paid?

Many a young comedian have asked me this question, and I have the same answer for all of them:  I don’t know.  This is a question when you should truly be honest with yourself.  Sometimes we think we should get paid to do something because then it means we are validated. A lot of people may think they are not comedians until they get paid to be a comedian.  Some may think that it is just a natural progression of things. You do something for a certain amount of time and then you start getting paid for it.

I am a photographer on the side.  I started charging when I realized that people wanted me to take their picture more and more.  By charging, people will realize that you are not just a free option they can run to when they need something done, and it covers expenses that you incurred while trying to become what it is you set out to be.  In show business it is no different.  When people start asking you to do time for them more and more you should then realized that you have become a commodity and that you should be charging for your services.

When I started out there were not that many opening acts in town so after about 3-4 months I started getting asked to do more and more time and soon enough I was faced with the decision of whether I should start asking people to pay me for my joke slinging.  Here is the thing about that:  Almost all non comedians think they are doing you a service by letting you get up and tell jokes for their little event.  They will tell you things like, “Well, it is great exposure!” or “You will get more work out of it.” Don’t listen to those people.  They didn’t do the things they did for free forever and neither should you. Here is a quick rule of thumb.  If they ask you to do more than 10 minutes they should offer you some type of compensation.  5-10 minutes is usually a guest set, that is you do a little time before the people getting paid go up.  Anything other than that is paid comedian territory and don’t let anyone tell you different.  Also think about it from this angle, if it isn’t a charity event then they are charging people and if they are not doing it for free then neither should you.

You see, when I was started out, there was no one around to tell me which way to go.  I would basically do my entire show at the time for free for anyone that would ask me because I thought that people would just start paying you out of the goodness of their hearts.  We both know that is wrong.  If you don’t put your foot down and ask to be paid to get on the stage then people, especially in comedy, will run all over you.  When it came to a point where I saw people doing the same time as me, but getting paid at the end of the night, I knew I should be getting paid as well.

Now you may be asking, “Well, how much do I charge?”  and the answer to that is different depending on many factors.  Where you live, how much time you can do, and how much you are comfortable with are all questions you should know before you go asking people for money.  In the one place we have here in Spokane, that can be confusing because that is how the owner of the one comedy club wants it to be.  The industry standard for road gigs has been 100 for feature (20-30 minutes) and 200 for headliners (50 minutes to an hour).  This isn’t always the case however.  Some clubs will pay a reduced rate because they figure that you are not driving anywhere to the next gig.  I have seen that rarely though.  In Spokane, a lot of the shows that are put on are put on without much of a budget so you have to be aware that you may not get 100 bucks to feature.  There was a place here opened for awhile that had a budget of about 80 bucks.  Are you comfortable getting paid 20 bucks to do your 30 minutes?  If you are then you will like these types of shows.

I have been headlining for awhile and people ask me to do private shows and shows in places that are not bars or comedy clubs.  I was never quite sure how to go about getting what I thought I was worth. That is why nowadays I ask how much the budget is.  They may still lie, but at least you know around about how much they are willing to pay you.  I had someone ask me how much I would do for a college gig.  Now, colleges have budgets for entertainment, so they have a number that they can pay you.  You should always remember one thing when you are asking for money.  You will get fucked.  No one gets paid what they are actually worth.  That is not how capitalism works.  You get paid what they think they can get away with paying you.  So, if you think you are worth 100 a night in some bar then that means you are probably worth double that.  Ok, so the college asked me how much I wanted and I asked them their budget.  They didn’t want to tell me, but they gave me a number.  I thought it was too low seeing as how I knew what bigger comedians got paid to go there.  I am not asking for what Jerry Seinfeld would get, I am not at that level, but I do have an idea of where I am in the pool of comedians. I countered and they accepted.  So now I got 300 bucks and all the text books I can fit into the trunk of my car.

You have to be honest with yourself.  If you have been doing it for 3-4 months and you live in a large city, you should not be trying to get paid for work.  There are just too many people out there with more time.  That isn’t to say it can’t be done. If you are a phenom, then you should ask to get paid, but you will know if you are or not if you are getting request for shows all over the place.  If you only have 5 minutes then you should hold off on asking for money.  Get more good material under your belt and then try again.  If you are happy with getting a meal and a beer as payment then go for it!  Nothing wrong with that, but don’t get mad when the other comedians are taking home money and you are taking home a half eaten Reuben.