The Choices We Make (The Journey Continues)

The Choices We Make

(My Journey Continues)


Ok, when last I left this story, I had made my first five dollars as a comedian. I was still doing any mikes I could find. Mainly “Tickles” at the Holiday House on Monday and “The Funny Bone” on Thursday.

Monday was exclusively amateurs and the local pro’s working out. On Thursday, we went on before the regular show. It started out Ok with only 3 or 4 of us showing up. Once it got to be 9 or 10, the headline acts started to complain.

I didn’t realize why at the time, I guess I kind of did. Once I started headlining, the last thing I wanted were 10 open mike acts starting the show with an hour or so of not many laughs. You can’t fix an audience once they’re ruined.

The Pittsburgh Comedy Club had Tuesday open mike but, they were sparsely attended and often canceled. I can’t remember doing it more than once or twice.

It was two weeks before Christmas and I came off stage at Tickles. It was a good set. My material was getting tighter and I was getting more confident. As I walked toward the bar area in the back of the room…that’s where the comedians hung out…Of course.

Anyway as I walked back Ron, the manager, handed me a five dollar bill.

“What’s this for?”

“Gas money, you’re doing good, you’re a regular now.”

Wow, five bucks! Not only that, I was going back to the biker bar in Waynesburg on Wednesday. That’s five more big ones, ten for the week. If I keep having weeks like this, I’ll make my first million in comedy by the time I’m 120.

On Thursday, when I got to the Funny Bone, I mentioned the five dollars from Tickles to the brothers who owned the place. They kind of shrugged it off like I didn’t mention it. Obviously, they weren’t about to match it. Through the many years I would work for those guys I would come to find…How can I phrase this?

Let’s just say they were less than generous with their funds.

The big news was coming though. At the end of the evening, Jeff pulled me aside.

“How’d you like to do a week here and get paid?”

I don’t know why he asked. Was I going to say no? That’s why I was here.

The following week was Christmas which fell on Saturday. With Christmas Eve on Friday, it was going to be a slow week. He was just going to use local acts with his house emcee, the comedy team of Zito and Bean as the headliner.

He offered me twenty dollars a show to do three shows, Tuesday through Thursday. He would also decide if we might try to do a show Christmas Eve. The brothers are Jewish, Christmas Eve isn’t that big of a deal to them. After they had zero reservations for the Friday show by Thursday, they decided to scrap it.

Of course, I was in no position to negotiate. I had only started doing comedy six weeks earlier. It was also six times as much as I had made in my previous best week.

What this also turned out to be, was being at the right place at the right time. The Pittsburgh Comedy Club had opened first. Every local comedian ran there. I hadn’t even done an open mike yet. Tickles opened second and was affiliated with the Pittsburgh Comedy Club. This gave guys two places to work.

When the Funny Bone opened, they were instructed not to cross over. If they did, they would lose all of their work at both clubs.

I was new. I was going to take whatever was offered. Because Zito and Bean were the only locals to cross over, the Funny Bone needed more Pittsburgh acts. That’s where I came in and it would work out well for me.

At the time, the brothers told me I could work the other rooms if they would have me. The Pittsburgh Comedy Club wouldn’t hire me. If I went there to see a show, they treated me like the enemy.

Tickles on the other hand, would start giving me weeks a few months later. So, I was working the Funny Bone and Tickles. This caused complaints from the guys who remained loyal to the Pittsburgh Comedy Club. Comedians can be a lot of petty whiners.

I remember walking into a store in my hometown on Christmas Eve. In my head I was thinking,

“I’m a professional comedian.”

I had accomplished my dream. Not only that, the biker bar liked me so much, they had booked me for New Year’s Eve!

I can’t do that story justice without telling it. The next part of the journey will be a video.

Speak Your Mind