Getting my name in lights on the Las Vegas strip was a bumpy road, and it really wasn’t what I was aiming for. But it happened many moons ago and it’s a great story. And it all has to do with my comedy writing!
Here’s what happened. . .
“One-nighter.” It’s a word (or words?) that conjures up all sorts of memories – for some people it’s memories of too much alcohol. LOL. But if you’re in entertainment, it actually means a gig that is one night long – usually a bar gig.
Back when I worked comedy clubs, the club would usually run Tuesday through Sunday night, and then be dark on Monday. So, a local bar in town would have the comics come over to perform. We’d make some extra cash and the bar would get a great show with nationally touring comedians.
The problem was, many times the bar didn’t advertise the show, so when customers showed up on a Monday night, trying to find a “traditional” one-nighter (ya know, the one with alcohol), they got comedy! Plus, bars usually aren’t set up great for comedy –the customers want to drink and talk, the mics stink, no mic stands, AND Monday nights there may be a football game on the TV. The bar owner would usually turn off the game and send us up there. How fun for us!??
These gigs were tough for me, and usually not my “style.” I once had a bar owner meet me at the door. Take one look at me. Take one look at his audience/bar. And declare “you aint got any of them thinkn’ jokes, do ya?” Like I was going to accidentally educate his crowd. Yes, I had “thinkn’” jokes. And yes, they didn’t go over well.
I had some tough nights in one-nighters, and no, I’m not opposed to drinking or carousing, but from my angle as an entertainer, I hated these bar gigs. Many nights I skulked away after a bad set, while the other comics, who had more “bar friendly” material rocked the room.
One comic in particular that I worked with a lot at these gigs, I’ll call Tom, did phenomenal. He had pot jokes, and drinking jokes, and sex jokes. He really had the crowd rolling. My jokes on kids and work did not compare. But I kept doing my thing because I realized that these bars were not the venues I wanted to excel at. This led me to some excruciating nights of bombing for me, but I stuck to my guns.
Years later, after I had (thankfully) moved on from the bar gigs, I ran into Tom in Las Vegas. He was there for vacation, and I was working at the Excalibur hotel on the Vegas strip with my name and face in lights up on the big marque. He said “Wow Jan, you’re doing great! You’re in Vegas. When I started out in comedy, I swore I wouldn’t do any pot jokes. I now have 60 minutes of pot jokes. I can’t get hired in Vegas.” He did not stay with his plan, possibly because it got too hard, and it was just easier to write pot jokes to appease the audience in the moment.
Lesson learned: Don’t stay on the path that is given you if it’s not what you really want.
Keep on doing your thing until you find your fit. It is so worth it!
If you’re looking for a GREAT speaker for your next event, check out my website www.TheWorkLady.com
(The picture above is my first time working Vegas. Ironically I didn’t have enough money to buy a camera! Luckily the club manager loaned me one)
Check out my other stories – this one is Five things I learned from Forensic Files! https://www.comedywriterblog.com/2023/09/01/five-things-i-learned-from-forensic-files/