I’m feeling a bit like J.K. Rowling right now.
I’m holed up in a hotel room, madly writing to deadline, shutting out the world and drinking coffee. Okay, so she was holed up in the Dorchester in London, writing the last Harry Potter book, drinking fabulous tea on antique china, whilst I, on the other hand, am at the Radisson in Ottawa writing my weekly column drinking coffee with that horrid whitener-stuff, but still.
I’m in Ottawa playing Absolute Comedy all weekend, doing a guest spot with the fabulous Doo Wops. When I called Jason Laurans about coming down to do another spot here (I was here last summer, too), he said all he had coming up was this gig, 10 mins/show, for almost no money. But I jumped at the chance to play with the Doo Wops, because I think they are wonderful and know it’s going to be a fun weekend. So, the hubby & I decided to make a weekend of it. He’s flying down today and we’ll drive back Sunday after the show.
Some of my friends think I’m nuts because I’ll be spending probably 5 times more than I’ll be making. But looking at it another way, Shane (the hubby) and I will have a lovely, kid-free weekend (which are few & far between); the club will more than likely sell out all the shows, and who doesn’t want to play a great club filled to the brim? Plus, I look at this as “paying my dues”. The paying gigs are starting to happen on a more regular basis, but most of my time is spent hitting the rooms around Toronto, working on my stuff.
So, when do you stop “paying your dues”? I guess that’s like asking “how long is a piece of string?” For everyone it’s different. Obviously, the better/more talented you are, the shorter your piece of string, but looking around me, I realize that my upward-mobility will rely a lot on my ability to market myself. A great number of my comic-friends are terrific at this; me, not so much.
After much prodding by one friend, I finally went out and bought marthaoneill.com (don’t bother going there – nothing to see yet). But even just buying the domain name took me the better part of 90 minutes last week. Creating the website is even more daunting (don’t worry, Andrew, I won’t be asking you!). I do have someone lined up to help, but before I do that, I need new photos. Again, I have someone lined up to do that, but it’s a matter of co-ordinating schedules, getting hair and make up organized etc. etc.
I do have a MySpace page and am on Facebook, but even these lack a certain amount of polish. Many comics have “groups” created for themselves, but doing that makes me feel self-important. Perhaps I should just get over myself.
I must also put together some video of myself and put a package together. Firstly, though, I must figure out just what “a package” is.
How about press? Everyone knows you have to have some press coverage to get anywhere. It’s the getting of the press coverage that baffles me. I did manage to get on the radio in Hamilton last week for an hour, but that was on the coat-tails of a much more successful comic, who is also very savvy about marketing. At least it’s a start.
Then there’s hustling. I should be getting onto bookers, agents etc – which I am, to a certain degree, but must confess to being a little shy when it comes to calling these people and selling myself. I think there’s a confidence thing going on, too. Are all the most successful comics brimming with self-assuredness and moxie? I’m thinking yes, or at the very least, they put up a good front.
When I first started stand up, I thought it was all about the writing and stage presence. And while that really is the meat of what we do, the potatoes fill up a surprisingly large part of the plate.
So, while J.K. Rowling has truckloads of money, legions of fans around the world, I got to make a couple of hundred people laugh last night, and hope to again tonight, which is pretty darn cool. The rest, I’ll figure out.