Maybe I'm being more neurotic than usual... or maybe I'm just a little burnt out. Regardless, I need to say "no" more. For four years, I've tried to be open-minded and really have not turned down many shows. I've pretty much accepted any gig without worrying about pay, location or circumstances. I've used these gigs (especially the really bad ones) to get better and hone my craft. For the most part, I've kept a very high batting average and have found ways to do well or at least have acceptable sets under the conditions but lately the grind has been getting to me.
Tonight, I had a show in DC. This was an improv and standup show that I took despite the very small paycheck because a friend of mine was running it. After hitting traffic, I had trouble finding parking. I drove around for street parking for about fifteen minutes before giving up and looking for a garage. I hate paying a lot for parking, but the show was starting and I did not have the time to continue a search for street parking.
I pulled into one garage and they were full. I had to back out of the garage (which took forever because of traffic) and found another one several blocks away in the opposite direction (which cost about as much as I was getting paid for the show). After parking, I started walking (the first of ten blocks) to the venue and right on cue… it started raining. Like a silent comedy film from the 1930’s, it starting pouring as soon as I left the garage.
Soaking wet, I arrived to the show late. An improv group was already onstage and they had almost as many members with them as there were in the audience. In a matter of minutes I went from irritable to sad to pissed off to depressed and eventually back to irritated by the time I took the stage. This was not a great combination of emotional to have when trying to entertain people.
My set didn't go well... and that's my fault. I’m embarrassed about how I acted on and offstage. I was mopey and it really showed in my “performance”. It's not the fault of the ten audience members that the show wasn't great or that I'm having a shitty day. It was my job to make them laugh and I failed.
I probably should not have been at this show in the first place. I should have said no to this gig... but I didn't. I accepted it and it was my responsibility to handle the situation more gracefully. I regret phoning it in and things worse than they should have been. I need to work on preventing this from happening again.
But seriously… why do I do this?