I'm being interviewed by the East Bay Express for my Hella Gay Comedy Show and I was asked by the reporter why I've been paying my performers with tacos, here's my response, enjoy:
I’ve spoken with a few people who’ve performed on the showcase, and some of them are pretty resentful that they get paid in tacos, when you charge $15 at the door. Does that mean you pocket most of the money? Can you speak to that?
Absolutely I can speak on that.
The admission for these past 4 shows was 10$ at the door but 90% of those crowds were given comp tickets. As I said before, this is how we were able to get so much support from the many local LGBT social groups in the area such as the California Men's Group (East Bay Men's Group), SF Movie Bears, several LGBT groups on MeetUp - SF Gay Singles, Bay Area Trans Girls, LGBTQQ Fun Group, Lesbian Social Group and not to mention all the comp tickets I gave away on the Goldstar ticketing service. This marketing ploy was how we were able to pull some fantastic crowds at the La Estrellita Cafe.
The best turn out we had was probably the Oct show, we had the place packed and it was standing room only and would you believe we only made 100$ from door sales that evening because the entire crowd was comp'd from the special group rate I was giving away. The only people who got charged for admission were stragglers who heard about the show threw word of mouth.
If you're wondering if I pocketed that money from the Oct show, and the other 30$ or 60$ bucks I made from the other shows, I sure did. That was the reimbursement to myself for all the promotional materials/services (flyers, press cards, posting time, emailing, hustling) I put into making these shows happen. And I also want to include that when I promoted my gay comedy show to the local press outlets, OAKLAND TRIBUNE, SFBG, SF WEEKLY, 96 HOURS, SF CHRONICLE, SF EXAMINER, not a one of them would pick it up, except for the EBX so I hope you guys know how I greatly appreciative this . It's still amazing to me how we were able to draw fabulous LGBT crowds without the support of the local press, that's how I know these shows are needed. I do want to give props to the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), and Jim who runs the entertainment section because they have always been helpful with getting our events out there.
I knew going into the Fall portion for the Hella Gay Comedy Show I wasn't going to be able to pay the performers accordingly so for now all I could do was offer was 1 free drink ticket and appetizers from the restaurant to the performers and they all knew that coming into the show. So if any of my past performers are under the guise that I was making a trip to the bank at their expense, they are greatly mistaken.
Going into producing a gay comedy show, I knew our base crowd would primarily consist of LGBT audiences so that's why I offered certain groups comp tickets.
I honestly wish my show business name was strong enough where I could pull a great crowd based on my name every time and even with the modest National acclaim that I do have, it's still not enough.
So moving forward onto 2012, now that all the hard work has gone into creating buzz for a new LGBT East Bay comedy show, the owner of the La Estrellita Cafe and myself agreed the show should be free for all audience members, 21 & over of course. We also now have a budget for the performers. Now get this, if this doesn't quell the naysayers, nothing will. For this type of show, usually the comedy producer who pulls the crowd for a free show, usually gets a commission, instead of me getting the commission, we decided to use that budget to pay the performers. So if anyone is taking the bullet, it's me for all the hard work it took for me to make these shows happen and for giving the LGBT community at large a new place to gather, laugh, and see great entertainment so if you ask me, it was worth it.
I've been doing comedy for 8 years and this is what all my experience has culminated too. I use to be one of those novice comedians who'd put a show date on my website and expect hoards of people to come but I'm not that same comedian I was all those years ago, and sometimes I miss it because it was less stressful.
I really did make a conscience effort to progress the show far enough where we could pay the performers because most comedians in the Bay Area and beyond do get taken advantage of in this business, its called, "paying dues" . Many many comedians get co hearsed into doing free shows because that's the only opportunity or method they know on how to get stage time by the premier comedy clubs in town like the Punchline, Cobb's, Roosters', Improv, Pepperbelly's or anywhere else.
I'm not afraid to speak about this in fear of getting blacklisted by these comedy clubs because not one of them has ever paid me to perform at their clubs and but yet I still manage to get booked on a National level, seems precarious doesn't it.
I have never been the one to wait for anything to be handed to me on a silver platter, all the accomplishment I have is because I worked hard for it.
So I hope my work ethic is reflected as to what happens behind the scenes into producing a successful comedy show, some comedians might complain about getting paid with tacos but it's sure a hell of a lot better then getting paid with nothing or not having show to play at all.