Wasn’t quite Hell, but getting warm

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

When an agent contacted me a couple weeks ago for a resorts gig, I immediately said yes, only because it had been over a year since the last gig I’d done under his auspices. I also remembered the bittersweet experiences with the people running these venues, i.e. left hand rarely knows what right hand is doing. My last time doing a “holiday camp” gig, virtually everything went wrong except the performance itself. The roll call of incompetence seemed endless, and when they begrudgingly offered me lodging, then wanted to charge me for linens, I reacted out of frustration to one of the underlings that was merely “following orders.” All that got back to the head honchos was, “he was rude to staff,” but nothing about how well I’d done under such adverse circumstances. While this incident happened four years ago, I was still surprised any of them wanted anything to do with me again.

Everything about this gig seemed a carbon copy of the previous, and since I can’t be that choosy right now, I did everything to keep calm despite being rebuffed by the events manager on virtually every request. At least this time they would have a mic stand, one of the basics missing from that debacle four years ago. I would have to pay for lodging and transport, since the gig was in North Yorkshire, about 200 miles away from London, and didn’t start until 10:00, so driving up there and back was not on. I was expected to be on for between 45-60 minutes, when I’m used to doing about 25-30, and just to complicate things, it was a family show, so ABSOLUTELY no swearing! It reminded me of some of the lounge acts I saw when my ex and I would holiday in these resorts. The acts could innuendo all they wanted, but if any of them said fuck, everybody was fired. I did manage to sneak the word “crap” in my set, but that was it.

In the preparation for the gig, no concessions were made. There was no space available at the resort, which turned out to be a blessing, as they were going to charge me £40 to stay in a mobile home. I left the lodging task up to my agent, who managed to find something in the town of Filey, about 3 miles away and close to a train station, for £10 more than the resort was going to charge me. The resort made it pretty clear that there would be no one to ferry me back and forth from Filey, so cabs back and forth were adding to my mushrooming expenses to do this gig I had premonitions about anyway.

The train ride up had the usual annoyances that any August journey would have in UK, i.e. all the kids are out of school and on a long train ride, thus easily irritable. So whiny crying kids were the order of the day, meaning a nap wasn’t going to happen. This same energy carried over to the hotel, and if things weren’t going right where the child was concerned, the strop reverberated through the halls, so no chance of a nap at the hotel either. Oh, and just to complete the cycle, the TV didn’t work, and never did through my entire stay.

My past experiences with resorts told me that absolutely no food or drink would be provided (OK, there was a pitcher of water backstage, whoopie!), as entertainers are just above dishwashers on the food chain. I decided I’d better grab something in Filey, and managed to find a fish and chips place. You’d think since this little village was right on the coast, they’d have access to some pretty decent seafood, but no, this was the type of cod that must have been suffocated by the grease seeping into every orifice. I managed to get it down, and fate was kind, as I didn’t have the expected indigestion later.

Now it was time to head to the gig itself, and I realized once I arrived that I had done this venue before, but this time I was in the Big Room, which was a cavernous dance hall that happened to have a stage. The sound was surprisingly good, to the point where what I said was coming back to me exactly when I said it, rather than in an echo a couple seconds later. The abyss between me and the audience should have made that situation worse, but there were more than a few pockets of people willing to bear with me. In the first few minutes, I thought this would be the longest 45 minutes of my life, but once I got my first laugh after about, oh, what seemed like 10 minutes, when it was probably only two, I breathed a little easier. They were very responsive once I opened things up to requests, and when one heckler yelled out “Get off,” I responded with the Prince song “Gett Off” from @ 1990, and didn’t hear from that fool again. No there were plenty of hecklers to go around, as I’m sure that when it’s announced in the brochure that there’ll be comedy, a lot of people wonder if it’s Peter Kay or Ken Dodd. Sorry, it’s just me, folks, and we’re stuck with one another.

As it wound down to my last five minutes, I openly complimented myself on my endurance, because even if the comedy was hit and miss, my singing and guitar playing were thankfully at their best. I told the crowd, “This is difficult, but here we are, and though it hasn’t been ideal, I think I’ve done OK.” The applause of recognition I got for that totally shocked me, and made those last five minutes go that much better. There were still idiots after the show who felt compelled to tell me how much I sucked, but that was as I was standing with groups of people who liked me enough to ask to take selfies with me.

So now it was back to the hotel, and some well deserved rest. Ah, but in place of the whiny children was now the shrieking seagulls, who assuredly didn’t care if people were trying to sleep, they were all either hungry or horny, and wanted the world to know. I managed about two hours sleep, then got up about 6:00 to take advantage of the communal bathroom that I was sharing with god knows how many other families. After my shower, I still had until 8:00 before they’d be serving breakfast, and with TV not an option, I went on a long walk around Filey. That actually comprised just finding an open news agent, buying a couple newspapers and finding a park bench where I could read while being further serenaded by the gulls. How people live here is beyond me.

It’s odd that in spite of my 30 hours from home and back, with my patience being constantly tested, and my calendar being sparse enough that, while I had the option to say no to this gig, I went ahead and did it, and am not totally averse to doing one like it again. It’s not as bad as the old joke where the man is complaining to his friend about his job, which is with the circus, where he trails behind the elephants sweeping up their shit, and also having to reach in and help them along if they’re constipated. When his friend says, “That sounds terrible, why don’t you quit,” the man says, “What? And give up show business?” It wasn’t that bad, but more than half of my wages were eaten up with transport, lodging, agent fees, and other miscellaneous expense. Still I’m laughing about it, and remember that, in my chequered career, I’ve done a lot more for a lot less.

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