By Brandon Wetherbee
Brandon Wetherbee hosts the talk show/podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody the first two Friday’s of the month at the Wonderland Ballroom and in Brooklyn and Chicago once a month. Subscribe to it online at youmethemeverybody.com. He’ll be at the Wonderland Ballroom on Febuary 10 hosting YMTE Live! with guest Jennifer Vinson from DC Setlist, stand up comic Phillipe Schaeffer, and a special set from Harris Face.
I wrote the first volume in October. I covered promoters that USE ALL CAPS, poster designers that submit resumes rather than posters and performers that consistently plug their Facebook page. I thought it would be another year to come out with enough horror stories to warrant a 1000 word piece. I was wrong. Not even four months later, I have more than enough to write Volumes 2 and 3. Since I don’t want to get too personal or negative, here’s a heavily edited single volume.
Once again, I will not be naming names. I will tell you, in person and only in person, who I am referring to. I am not going to mention the good people because I might leave some good people out and I don’t want to offend. I am not going to mention the crazy people because they are crazy. Let’s begin.
The Press Release: soul=no
People that write press releases tend to have also written pieces based on press releases. For example, I send out press releases for all of my shows. I have also covered shows because of press releases for this site, the City Paper and my talk show. In other words, I know when something is going to be bad based on a press release. If you’re too lazy to read your own press release, I don’t want to see your show. If you read your press release and actually stand by it, that can be worse. In the past week alone I’ve received hundreds of glowing words about the daughter of a famous stand up performing at a local comedy club (because when I think of the greats, Carlin, Cosby, Bruce, etc., I always think of their hilarious offspring), a new folk singer that is ‘exploring his soul,’ a new record label that hasn’t actually released anything that features an ‘interview’ with the ‘C.E.O.’ that opens with “As the C.E.O. of…” and multiple press releases featuring photos of slightly overweight white men with goatees staring blankly away from the camera. Based on those press releases, I will not be covering any of those four things. I beg of any aspiring writer to heed my warning and also avoid these shitty mass email blasts. But whatever. It’s your night. Spend it with people exploring their soul or something.
Side note: The best music, comedy, theater, film, whatever, doesn’t need press releases. Good bands don’t care if the press is there, they already are. The best stand ups draw the least because they don’t spend time sending out press releases and working on their ‘career.’
The Venue: MINE!
I like or love all of the places where I host my talk show. Do I consider them my home? Only when I’m on stage.
It takes a long time to find the right place for your show. Whether you’re screening a film, staging a sketch show or looking for a bar to play on tour, you are the guest of the venue. You do not own the venue. It is not yours. I produce two shows every week at a place in Chicago. Do I refer to it as mine? No. Why? I don’t pay the rent. I don’t order the booze. I’m not responsible for bathroom maintenance. I’m the guy that gets to pick what goes on the stage, that’s it. When someone says that where they do the shows is theirs’ stay away. Ask them again. Maybe they’re just happy and drunk and they’re like, “I fucking love this place! It’s my home!” That’s fine and actually encouraged. You should be proud of where you take the stage. When it’s like, “Fuck that guy, trying to do shit at my home, I’m blacklisting him!” That’s the one. That guy is crazy. Stay away from him. Anyone that can’t understand a full room at the place you do your show is also good for your show is not stable. Venues, bars, clubs, theaters, whatever, need to stay in business. You should want yours to thrive, even on your night off.
The Lineup: Name Names
When the sign outside just says, “Live Music!” the music is not going to be good. When the Facebook invite for the comedy show reads, “THE TOWN THE SHOW IS IN’S Best Comics!” it’s really an open mic disguised as a showcase or the promoter doesn’t believe in the lineup.
You’ve made it! You’ve performed, produced or promoted something and want to do it again! Congratulations! Things will be so much easier! And harder! It’ll pretty much even out. Sadly, the longer you do this, the amount of unstable people that for some ungodly reason have some sort of pseudo job which makes you have to deal with them gets bigger and bigger. There is nothing you can do about this. The best you can hope for is a lack of weapons. As long as you do not bleed or bruise at the end of the night (unless you want to bleed or bruise), it counts as a success. Threats never lead anywhere and reputations will sort themselves out. In the long term, most of this doesn’t matter. Day to day, it’s what will make you want to quit. We all want to quit. That’s OK. If you never wanted to quit after your show, you have not performed enough. Whether it’s because of a lackluster performance, poorly attended but well done show or getting underpaid because the venue/club/house lied to you, know that it’s not all your fault. I keep stressing that it’s not your fault because I’m trying to convince myself that it’s not my fault. It might be my fault. Sorry?
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful night.