I just bought my 2008 calendar. I always buy one of those gi-normous month-at-a-glance family-planner wall calendars, with boxes big enough to write a short essay and stickers to mark “Party!” or “School Event” or “Mom’s Time” (HA!).
In addition to the kids’ stuff, I always post my shows there which I then (rather anally) circle with a bright high-liter (orange being December’s colour, fyi). The reason I do this is twofold: one, to say (fluorescently) that I AM OUT THAT NIGHT and two, because I rather enjoy being anywhere in the room and am able, at a glance to see that I am pretty booked, and that’s pretty cool.
So now I have this attractive, new calendar (okay, it’s pig-ugly, but it keeps me from forgetting my kid at swimming or some equally bad-mom move). The problem is, I don’t have one show booked for 2008. I don’t even know what colour January will be, because I have nothing to circle. Yet. Better get booking. I’m not at the point where offers to do shows are pouring in. Sure, I get a couple a month, but the bulk of my shows are the “rooms” around the Toronto area and the pro-am shows at the clubs. I do an average of 8-12 shows per month. Of those, I book myself into 6 or 7.
Booking shows is a challenge in itself. There are only so many stages to play and truckloads of comics who want to get on them. Between the pros who want to try out new stuff, the people trying it out for the first or second time, the millions and millions of Humber Comedy programme students and those like me who are a couple of years in and working their way (hopefully) to more and more paid gigs, stagetime is seriously at a premium here in the G.T.A. (aka The Centre of the Universe – kidding, natch).
So the trick is how to get on these shows. I learned very early on that each room/producer has their own preferred method of being approached. Some expect you to show up at the room, introduce yourself, then email them. Fair enough. Some are happy to not know you at all, and will give you time based on your first email contact. Others want you to try-out for proper spots by doing their open mic-type spot first. Some producers you have to chase (okay, pester) to get a response, others want only one email/call and will get pissed if you bug them. Others have a weekly call-in for a show that week/month/sometime in the future. Sheesh. Keeping all these details straight is enough to make my already fragile head explode. Don’t get me wrong, most of these producers are great people with whom I’ve become friends, but the convoluted path to stage time has required me to give up precious brain space which I can ill-afford to lose.
There are a number of comics (mostly young, single and childless, in my experience) who are committed to getting onto as many shows as they can in one week. 3, 4, even 5 per night is not unheard of. They’ll run from comedy room to music open mic to coffee shop to God-knows-where for a spot. It’s exhausting for me just to hear about. But kudos to them for their hustle. They must be getting better, right? Frankly, I’m just happy when I remember to call on the appointed day, email enough/not too much and get onto enough shows that I’m always writing and looking forward to my next gig.
So I’d better start organizing bookings for 2008, ASAP. I’m thinking green for January, but that may change. I’ll let you know.