Yikes, Tucson!


Barry-Gordy-en-1964Comedy and music both have their share of shady dealings. Contracts are made and signed, but are for the most part useless when it’s over small change events. Communication is important, but the sad fact is that people typically don’t listen.

When dealing with a local producer you have to understand that in their mind, they are GOD. The ability to think beyond what feeds their own power trip is beyond their capability. The talent they surround themselves with, the way they interact with the audience and put shows together can often be like a small king demanding the court to pay heed to his might and deeds.

The smaller the scene, the worse it gets. 

I first met Kevin William Lee two years ago at Doug Stanhope’s Super Bowl Party. He seemed like an ok dude and we shared similar musical backgrounds. Doug used him a few times as an opener and Kevin was adamant how he was ‘the guy’ in Tucson. I saw him again the next year and even though Doug’s manager was drunkenly calling him a fat cunt idiot with a hot wife, we talked about doing a show in his town. 

A couple of months go by and I hit him up. My friend JT Habersaat was doing his Altercation run through the area and I and my buddy Joe Staats were coming along to do sets.

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Yes. I sound like an over excited idiot. I don’t know how to go about this emotionally the right way. Asking for work is the worst part of Stand Up Comedy. There’s a shit load of people who want stage time and I’m always genuinely surprised when I get some.

Asking for stage time feels like Oliver asking for more food. In the end just be funny, write yer ass off and hopefully you can avoid some grizzle toothed Anglophile screaming “Moooooooore?!” while yer grubby hands tremble around a bowl of empty gruel. (Filled with what I assume is ‘Last Comic Standing’ credits)

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Oh shit. Sound guy? This can be a problem. When booking a comedy show you have to watch out for this. Rock clubs will charge at the door and pay out to the “sound guy” from your cut. I’ve seen it go as high as $150 just for a dude to turn on an amp.

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THE FACT THAT YOU ASKED IF WE’RE A BAND… what the fuck? You know it’s a comedy tour stupid, Jesus fucking Christ! BUT AT LEAST WE HAVE A VENUE LOCKED DOWN. We can get to the meat of the deal and try to come up with something that works out for everybody.

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God dammit. Really? You just ignored the whole ‘paying the sound guy’ issue we just brought up?  (Of course I stay super positive and tell him it’s all good that his band is gonna push the show – we need Tucson to go well and help get us between Albuquerque and Las Vegas with stops in Sierra Vista and Phoenix in between.

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In between I connect JT with Kevin and they work out a deal for $200 + bar tab.

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Diligently I check in to make sure everything’s been handled ok.

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Ok… now here’s where the shit starts to shine. First he switches venues. The truth is the venue changed management. Also the venue he switched it too is where he puts on open mics. So truthfully he double booked an open mic and an out of town tour and didn’t want to compete with himself so he decided to just mash the two together. Also – great – we’re OUTSIDE, just what stand up comedy needs.  The intimacy and focus of a bar’s large, outdoor patio. He’s a comic. He should know that’s dumb, but worse he thinks we’re too stupid to get what’s happening? Fuck – well – we’re committed to the tour and not sure of anyone else in the area we can negotiate this soon so – finger’ crossed.

The tour starts great in Ft. Worth.  Got to work out some new ideas in Oklahoma City. Amarillo was a rowdy bar show booked by Shea White. Andy Dick’s dad brought his family out and thankfully very un-Andy Dick like. Albuquerque was a trip. Sierra Vista was like a family outing hosted by Jobi Whitlock from Stanhope’s Celebrity Death Pool.  During all this JT touches base:

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OH, we’re already on the road and the deal just completely changed again? Also 5 comics are gonna open for a 4 act tour? Even though we asked for no more than 3 doing 5-7 minutes. Ok…

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Oh changed again?! Big Shock! By the way – we do meet before hand. We’re upbeat, but state that the openers should only do 5 minutes a piece.  Because having a lot of openers open micing long sets can and does absolutely chase audiences away. Kevin agrees. Then when the show starts, states that 6 openers are doing 10minutes.

More like 10-15. 10pm show Hour and a half in is when Kevin William Lee decides its his time to shine. Does 20 minutes of one liner style jokes and Sylvester Stallone impressions. Then finally at around Midnight we get to go on.

Show goes great. We’re done by 1:30. Thankfully some people stayed to watch while the back of the large open patio chatted away. Not to mention the busy street and homeless dude clinging the gate that served as our “stage”. I did my set standing on a chair and blasted whatever bits I could dig up that would get them involved. JT loses his voice. Staats gets hit on by a lesbian who buys him a beer because he “doesn’t have AIDS.”

End of show Kevin drops a hundred in my hand and apologizes profusely. Says the manager is being a stingy cunt and he’s so sorry. Says the show was amazing. I just took it. JT was the guy handling that stuff and now I’m in the middle of this shit? Worse yet – it was a guy I put him in contact with. Now I kinda look like an ass.

Kevin immediately leaves promising to come back to break down the equipment. I hold my breath.

At closing the Bar manager approaches JT and basically intimates that he suspects we were screwed. Tells us that the pay out was $150 plus a bonus if we hit good sales. Which he says we absolutely did. Only we can’t get that bonus because the owner isn’t there and usually pays it the next day. So that means Kevin’s a liar who booked us during his open mic under the guise of a professionally booked show,  kept $50 plus the bonus we got him.

Well played. Ok. Live and learn. We weren’t that mad he took money. That’s fine! He booked and produced the show, but to bullshit us so badly and amateurishly… To make promises you clearly didn’t mean to keep when we had no other options – is pretty dick. He could’ve said all this at the very beginning and gave us the opportunity to accept it or to take the Phoenix gig that had a real and much, much higher guarantee for that night. No harm there. Instead he manipulated the situation to make himself look good because there was through out this whole deal, the oft chance that Stanhope was gonna pop in to do a spot.

Later, while eating gas station Lunchables I get this text from Kevin.

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Oh you feel bad for lying to us like you did?! Congratulations, Hero. We start laughing and talking shit. Stanhope calls JT asking about the show and we fill him in. JT ends up messaging with the venue:

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“I UNFORTUNATELY WASN’T TOLD YOU WOULD BE COMING” = Promotion 101

I finally send Kevin this.

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Here come’s Kevin. (Keep in mind the whole “owner’s a cunt, I feel bad, paid out of pocket” text he sent.)

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You don’t remember all those lies? Do you not feel bad anymore? At this point Stanhope texts him “Yeesh…” Kevin freaks out. “Did you mean to type Douche?” We all laugh. Stanhope replies with “Yikes..” I get this message:

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Not getting that Bonus? Forget that deal too? OR was it the fact that JT asked the owner to divide it amongst the staff instead of putting it in yer fat little fingers?

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Clearly this dude needs to eat!

Dude goes on to text me “all the things he sent the owner”. However, none of them are actual screen shots with any chance of verification.

In the end, fuck the money. It’s not that Kevin William Lee is a terrible promoter, or that he’s a terrible comic either. No – the worst part is that Kevin William Lee is even bad at being shady. Step up your game son.

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(UPDATE)

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and scene

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Thanks MR. Heads!!!

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