Before finding Ignite Hospitality Services - Comedian Will C. did NOT have the time of his life!

It was March 2004, I had taken a gig with another comedian from Kansas City to perform at a nightclub that decided it wanted a comedy night before the dance club opened at 10. We get to Fayetteville and turned on to hotel road, we pass by all the good hotels, and at the end of the street is this Bates looking motel. Owned by the guy who owned the dance club. We walk into the check-in lobby where we are met by Ms. Twoteeth. She gives us our separate room keys, I head to my room and Scott heads to his. This is where it gets crazy. I open my room door to the dirtiest, smelly mildew infused room i've ever seen. Anyway, I need to shower, so I unclothe and head to the bathroom. I left my socks on and put on a condom for safety. I get done showering, open the curtain and grab the towel. Yes, the towel...not multiple, just one. I try to unfold this towel but it is stuck together. I finally get it apart and see that it is covered in blood. I Instantly drop this towel and see my only other choice is a washcloth. I get dried off and dressed and start looking for an iron to get ready for the show. There was not an iron in the room so I call the front desk. The "lady" answers and tells me to come to the lobby and get one. I go back to the lobby building and now there is a guy at the desk with 1.5 teeth. I tell him I just called about an iron, he turns and yells, "Linda, get your f'n ass up here and bring the God damn iron!" Linda comes with what I can only assume is the first iron ever made. Rusty, heavy maybe bloody?. Linda can sense by my facial expressions that I am not happy, and asks me if I want her to go down to Walmart and get a new one. I ask her please and she says, "Go back to your room and I'll bring it to you when I gets back." So I'm waiting and finally get a knock on the door, it's Linda with a $5.00 bargain iron. I say thank you and ask her if she has an ironing board, This causes her to lose her mind. She says I am weird and says, "Who irons anymore?" So she slams my door and 10 minutes later, comes back and hands me a 3 legged ironing board that I had to lean up against my leg. We get ready and head to the venue where we are supposed to perform from 8 untill 9:30, so they could flip the room for the dance club to open at 10:00. Well about 9:15 they open the doors and start letting people come in, and we're like, "WTF?" It seriously looked like the cast of Dirty Dancing lining up around the walls of the room, and some looked like had put baby in the corner a lot! We finish up and head back to the motel to get a "good" night's sleep. I pull my cigarette burned comforter back and check for mice, lice, and semen stains. While I'm getting ready I am hearing whistling and can't figure out where it's coming from so I go to the door and look out the peep hole. Problem was, it wasn't a peep hole, it was an actual hole that had been drilled through the door. I open the door and see the other comic standing by the car with a look of fear. He says to me, "You want to drive home tonight?"
"HELL YES, was waiting for you say something!!"

I DID NOT have the time of my life!!!

The time Bob Moher performed at the neighborhood block party....

Boerne, TX

MY WORST GIG EVER

None was as memorable as Boerne, Texas. I did not suffer this disaster alone. It was one of our Door To Door Comedy group gigs. We were all new to standup comedy so we took whatever shows we could get. I would book apartment complexes since they already had a built-in audience and beautiful clubhouses. Most of the time this worked out great! Then, there was the Boerne show in the middle of August, in the middle of Texas. Understand there is a reason you don’t see comedy specials filmed outdoors. Without boring you with the details, I will tell you that most comedy clubs are set up to accentuate the laughing experience, with as few distractions as possible.
I should have known something was up when I pulled into the parking lot. Next to the tiny, tiny, tiny clubhouse was a 2-story balloon bounce with about 50 kids going berserk. I go in the clubhouse, and the guy in charge tells me that we will now be performing, you guessed it …outdoors. He takes me to an 8 x 10-foot concrete slab (no cover), next to an Olympic size pool with hundreds and hundreds of kids yelling and screaming. It sounded like a mass exorcism. When I say “next to,” I mean 12 feet away, and he says you can set up here. At the corner of the slab (5 feet away) is a guy with a taco vending cart. There’s a line of people, 20 deep, for tacos between the 6 or 7 people that were there to see a show and us. Another 5 feet to the left there is a kid tossing basketballs into one of those games that will roll the ball back to you. He is practically standing on stage with us. It’s 100 degrees and no shade; we are baking alive right next to a pool. Oh, and the guy thought it would be a good idea to hand out those noisy plastic hand-clackers to all the kids, which they proceeded to rattle nonstop.

IT GETS WORSE

This pool was at the center of a courtyard surrounded by apartments. Every 20 seconds one of the high-pitched air conditioners would fire up and of course echo around the courtyard, while we are telling jokes mind you. So I am onstage if you want to call it that, doing my thing. I can’t even see the few people that are there for the show all I see is the line of taco eaters, an ever growing pile of kids trying to electrocute me by splashing pool water as I am holding the mic, while I am chucking up 3-pointers with the kid next to me. I look up and, wait for it ….there is now a LIVE PONY RIDE going around the pool! Yup, a real horse, doing real horse business, at the apartment complex. It goes on like this for an hour long show.

FINALLY, IT’S OVER …I THOUGHT

Finished our sets and started to pack up our gear when the in-charge guy asks if he can borrow our mic to make a quick announcement. Okay, whatever. That announcement was for about a thousand different raffle items and took forever. Okay, we’re done, right? Not so fast, now he has “officer friendly”, the local cop, come up and give the kids a whole back-to-school safety presentation.
We’ve had a dog run up on stage before, kids rush the stage before, and I did a poolside gig where I told the setup to a joke and the audience (in the pool) dove under water, and I had to wait for them to surface to say the punchline. A helicopter buzzed me at another poolside gig, and one time we did a gig in a basement for seven people, one of the comedians brought 5 of them, his own family. But hey, that’s show biz, you gotta love it!

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Chris Cope's Thursday night in Pensacola...

This comes to us from Chris Cope:

So this gig was a Thursday night add on to a Funny Business run inside a Mexican restaurant. The feature and I get to the gig early, we eat and talk and are generally exited because the room was full of dining guests we assssssumed would stay for the show which was like 70 mins away, over the next 45 mins the room starts to empty out table by table. At about 10 mins til show, the last two top gets up and leaves. So I tell the feature, "looks like we are gonna paid for nothing", in comedy at this level, you show up, get paid for showing up, if the show happens, great, if not, then you get your cash/check and bounce. Well, the owner never had zero audience for a show and didn't "know" what to do. I simply said, you pay us, we go. He said I am not gonna pay you for nothing, I politely explained that us coming here wasn't nothing and it wasn't our job to fill the room, merely to perform. He was still sticking to not wanting to pay us. I said give us an audience and we will do the show. So he pulls out the entire kitchen staff and wait staff and has them become a make shift audience. Feature goes up, does great, I go up and decide to just devote half of my set giving this business THE business. The staff loved it, the owner stopped watching about 10 mins into my set. We got our checks and we left. I love my job!

This submission is from Mike Bonner about an experience at an Elks Lodge:

 "I went Elk Hunting once. You should have seen those Lodge members run !" (A new joke rising out of this bad gig)I don't really view these thins as "bad gigs" just another lesson learned for next time, and there WILL be a next time. A few years ago I opened for Uncle Floyd at an Elks Lodge fundraiser. 300 in the audience, most of them were hunters. I was told beforehand it was a tough gig, lot of overly drunk men. I was prepared or so I thought. I get introduced by the host, who's not a Comic. As soon as I touched the mic, someone yells out "You Suck !!". I start cracking up cause I wasn't ready for that one. Tough crowd so I go right into my "money jokes", ( my jokes I count on for laughs) I get a few chuckles, since they were hunters I told my hunting joke ," I went hunting once, and can you believe it ? My first time out and I shot something, but then I felt bad, I went over, there knelt down and said "Dad ! I'm sorry" Someone yells out "You shot your Father you asshole?" I had to drop my routine because it turned into hurling insults at each other, mine being funny, their's being dumb, some over the top mean. This went on for the rest of the 15 I was supposed to do and got off. After the show I couldn't count how many people shook my hand and said how great I was handling that, a good sport and they thought I would bail like they had other Comics do in the past. Next day the booker called and said you did the whole 15 ? really? They don't laugh on purpose always try to chase the opener off ". Well thank you for telling me that, a little more info than "tough gig" would have helped.

Good Deed Gets Punished

     I'll admit, many times when I do a fundraiser, it's a bit selfish.  Whether it's for the money or networking, to this point, probably only done a couple fundraisers strictly for the cause.  Many times I have believed in the cause, but I've also been paid.  To be fair, most budget for performers, it's how we make a living.

     A few summers back, I was in the typical comedian "slow summer schedule."   I was offered an "opportunity" to be part of a fundraiser for a Police Athletic League.   The money would go to the city's police department so they could purchase athletic gear for area kids.   Kids get to play sports and create positive bonds with the police...love the idea.  It was the first time this city's police department was holding a fundraiser.  They couldn't pay me (no, that's not an immediate warning flag) but would put me on all their posters, tickets ad advertising (including the city paper-which at the time, was still being read).  They had a sponsorship with a local tv station as well.  I wasn't a big deal in the city at the time (OK, ever) so the idea of being exposed to an audience outside of the comedy circuit was enticing.  When you spend a ton of time driving, meeting a few cops couldn't hurt either.   Pretending I'm professional, I googled Police Athletic League fundraisers and saw pictures of lavish, packed crowds in Dallas.  Suits, dresses, tons of pretty people and mounds of toys and athletic equipment.  I took the offer.

     Since accepting the gig, I noticed no mention of the event until seeing a small ad in the paper, the  week of the event.  Not that I'm egotistical, I am, but that's not the point, but my name was nowhere to be found-unless I unknowingly changed my name to "Entertainment".

      The night of the show, I pull into the parking lot of the venue I'd never heard of.  I notice a very few cars, but I tend to get places early, so that's not a big concern.  After going over my set list for a while, I walk into the theater...which is a tile floored gymnasium.  There are rows of tables for eating and people are milling around.  My contact isn't around, but I find the other performers.  There's a band, which will go on after us and a magician-who tells me he saw the situation and had the lady switch the order to put him ahead of me becuase after a few minutes, people wont be paying attention.  Nice trick.   

     People are walking and talking as the show starts.  The magician is actually a pretty cool guy and funny but the sound system is terrible (in an elementary school-ish gymnasium-who would've guessed?).   He does his 30 minutes gets a smattering of applause and though I'm dreading this, I have that performer ego where you always think you can pull it off.  I'm going to knock this out, get offers for private parties throughout the year and get a police escort to my next 7 shows.  I got this.

     The emcee reads my credits and right before he announces my name, there's an interruption from the back.  He nods his head and says, "The buffet is now open, welcome Bill Boronkay."   Usually, people wait at least 5 minutes before they turn their backs on me, but to be fair, that's without rigatoni.  I mean, I like myself a lot, but never thought I could compete with Cordon Bleu.  Turns out, I was right. Combine the commotion with no one being able to hear and you've got a recipe for a bad night.   It's those moments where you know you're in for a battle but at least it's a paycheck...then I remembered, I wasn't getting paid.  The mic was wireless (also practically soundless) so I decided to go table to table, trying to find people that hadn't gone to the food line yet or were back from eating.  Not so funny thing was, the people at each table could barely hear me.  It was like Maxwell Smart's Cone of Silence (was that in the movie?).  I battled for my contracted 30 minutes (why, I'm not sure-oh yea, I pretend I'm a professional).  When I finished, the magician laughed about what a horrible situation it was, which it wouldn't have been if he didn't push to switch the order while I wasn't there.

     Finally, I was able to get away to the food line, which was empty...possibly because all they had left was some tortillas, rice and nachos.   They didn't give me enough drink tickets to make it better. 

     I left without complaining, at least to the people there and few days later got a nicely written form thank you email, with an invitation to perform the next year.  Still holding out for the police escort.      

Crickets in Salt lake City

So I'll kick this off with a gig from hell about half way through a coast-to-coast tour.

We had driven through the night to get from Denver to Salt Lake City to play a place called "Liquid Joes" at their requested load-in time of 3pm... The doors were closed and locked. Nobody was there. So like any respectable band would do, we took naps in the parking lot and walked to the grocery store to grab some cheap lunch. Staff starts arriving, sound guy shows up, we sound check and backline our gear and hit the pool tables to wait for the audience to show up. It's now 9pm, the opening bands were finished and we were on in 15 minutes! As I walked in to the club from the parking lot (where I had noticed a lack of other vehicles...) I literally hear a cricket chirping. Turns out when your band's name is Gallows Bound and you're touring with a band called Whiskeydick, no amount of promotion will bring a crowd in a town like Salt Lake City... except for maybe a bartender and a waitress.

-Aaron