“How I Launched My Comedy Career Because Of $39 Bucks”
Listening To Your Inner Voice
–By Jan McInnis, Comedian and Keynote Speaker
It was comedy gold when I heard about the latest plastic surgery people are getting – have you heard? “Rear end implants.” That’s right. . . rear end implants! And they cost like $5000 dollars! I’m thinking, hey, a box of Twinkies is three bucks! It might take longer, but it’ll taste better. Okay, maybe Twinkies cost more than three bucks, but that’s a funny joke from my comedy act and it gets a big laugh. And to come up with that joke, I didn’t sit down and spend time writing a joke about rear end implants; I just listened to my inner voice. When I heard the cost of said implants, my inner voice screamed at me that Twinkies will do the same thing for a lot less—and poof! The joke is made, and it still cracks me up.
My inner voice has helped me a lot. I’ve developed a ton of humor from it, built a great comedy and professional speaking career around it, and chosen some wonderful friends with it. In fact, with my comedy career, my inner voice has come in very handy.
Back in the 80s when I started out in comedy clubs I had one strict rule for booking comedy club work: I’d work for anyone with a pulse. That’s the kind of rule you have when money is extremely tight and you’re new to the humor business. And as such, I ended up working for a comedy club owner we’ll call CB (for Crazy Booker). CB had lots of work, and many of us comics worked for CB even though CB was known to have issues: sketchy payment issues, messed-up comedy booking issues, and all sorts of general “bad-things issues.” But when you need to pay the mortgage, you do what you gotta do.
Plus I didn’t have any problems with CB (at first) until one night when CB cut the money on me. “Cut the money” is a nicer, comic term for “cheated.” I was booked to perform shows Thursday through Saturday at a new comedy club, but the Thursday show at CB’s club had no audience. (Apparently marketing wasn’t a strong suit of CB’s.) At the end of the weekend, CB decided to take $39 bucks out of my pay for some kind of punishment even though I wasn’t in charge of marketing–I’m supposed to bring the jokes, not the audience! I was emceeing at the time, and $39 bucks was like $39,000 bucks. It was a huge amount!
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