"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

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"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 27: My First Paid Gig

Ok this one's pushing it a bit. I had my first paid stand up comedy gig on Wednesday. I've certainly done stand up before - I've been doing it on and off for about three years. And it's not even the first time I've received money for a gig. Back in March I put on my own show with my friend Rusty, to which all my friends and family came. Most were quite impressed. We walked away from it a few hundred dollars richer. So let's just say this is the first time someone's actually given me money to perform at their show. And it was a room I'd never performed in either. The room was the Chiaro Bar on Waymouth St. I'd been told there was a big dinner booking on that night, so there'd be a larger crowd there than usual.

I headed straight there after work. I'd warned the guy who runs the room (his name was Taylor) that I might be late, so he put me on in the second half. I would have arrived on time if I weren't so obsessed with finding a free park. I found the bar with 20 minutes to spare and saw my friend Mark getting out of his car right in front of the building. Even without searching, I knew he'd gotten incredibly lucky. I wouldn't be able to find a park that easily. I drove around that four-block area dozens of times looking for free spots, sizing up the length and legality of available spaces. Eventually I gave up and went to a paid park, wandering into the bar 20 minutes after the show started.

Ivan Aristeguieta was performing at the time. He's close to being Adelaide's best comedian and he's someone I consider to be kind of an early mentor. We don't talk as much any more, but I always like seeing him perform because he's an example of how to get the fundamentals of stand up right. The room was kind of swanky with bright-coloured spotlights around the place and a bluish wash over the rest of it. The seats were kind of split in half with the right hand side facing the stage and the left side taken up by a long table at which the dinner party was happening. They seemed to be paying attention to the comedy, which is rare for a setup like that, but then again it was Ivan, so I'm not surprised.

Ivan finished performing and the crowd went on its mid-show break. I sat with Mark, Ivan and a couple of other comedians thinking over my new material while the others chatted around me. I was going with 90% new stuff, which I'm not sure is a good idea when it's a new room and you're getting paid for the first time. The break finished and everyone went back to their seats, but as we sat down, something seemed wrong. Very wrong. Why was the room so much emptier?

Turned out the dinner party - more than half of the crowd - had left and there was about 15 people left. What jerks! (the dinner people, not the people remaining). The first performer for the bracket went up and did his thing to some chuckles around the room, almost as if they were being polite. Then it was my turn. I got up from my seat and stepped onto the rickety stage and faced the expectant audience...

I did alright. I got chuckles like the last guy, but they seemed a bit less forced. I felt comfortable like I hadn't felt since the Fringe. Afterwards, I went up to Taylor and proudly received my payment - a crisp five dollars. Hey, don't laugh. It was for only five minutes work. That's 60 bucks an hour! I slipped that note into my jacket pocket and left to go home.

On the way back to the car, I noticed a lot of drunk people around. That's right, it was Wednesday - interestingly a pretty popular day outside of the weekend for clubbers and the like. I was intercepted on the way back to the car by a drunk aboriginal who asked me for money.

'Well, it just so happens I have five dollars right here,' I said as I took the money back out of my pocket. I was glad to be rid of it if it meant he didn't mug me. He ran off with it excitedly like he'd just found Blackbeard's treasure and I made it back to my car in one piece. But as I paid for my parking, it occurred to me - all added up, my first ever paid gig had made a loss.


  1. I never knew a comedy act could be as short as 5 minutes, but it sounds like a good idea for developing comedians. Forces you to keep the material pithy. You should claim a tax deduction for the donation you made to the aboriginal guy.

    1. He ran off before I could get a receipt.

  2. Ahh, well maybe next time you should video tape the performance. Then you can put it on your blog and get more mileage from it than just the 5 bucks. I remember going to a coffee house where sometimes stand up comics would perform. A delightful time would be had by all.

    1. For a while I had some footage on YouTube of me doing stand-up in my underwear. It nearly got 1000 views, but then my account got accidentally deleted. Have you ever thought of trying it?

    2. Accidentally deleted? Chucky C. Chuckles is the resident comedian for my youtube channel, so perhaps he will entertain such a project one day.

    3. Yeah my Google account was attached to an email address I didn't want and I couldn't change it, so I deleted that. It didn't click that my YouTube account and my previous blog were connected to it :P


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