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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

My Monday Mission

Monday December 15th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field has taken over most of America. According to the weather reports on TV there’s a cold front from Nevada to New Jersey and it’s putting all of us in a deep freeze. Days like this make me really glad I don’t work on a road crew.

It was bad enough I had to go into Chicago to host the rising star showcase at Zanies. If I could have taken the night off I would have but I made a commitment to keep hosting so I’ll live up to it. Plus I do get paid too. Not many comics are making money on a Monday.

I really enjoy hosting the Zanies shows. I get to run them any way I want. I can try out a new bit between acts or up front and I also get to see the new talent coming up the ladder. I think it’s very important to forge a relationship with them for many reasons and I do it.

First, it’s just good business. Knowing as many people in one’s business as possible is a smart move. Yes they’re all younger and less experienced but they’ll grow and go in other directions and become connections at some point. If I’m nice to them now (which I try to be always) hopefully they’ll remember it down the road and it might benefit both of us.

Second, it helps me to know the talent out there so I can recommend it to bookers when they ask me who the new faces are. If I know a few people to suggest it puts me in a place where I can pick my own openers. That makes a big difference in the quality of a show.

That particular example happened today as a matter of fact. Joe San Felippo books a lot of gigs all over the country from Florida to Michigan to Vegas to Milwaukee where I will be working the next two Saturdays at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino.

He’s a great guy and we’ve been friends for years. He’s getting a few new accounts and not only am I going to get some work he wanted to know of other comics I might know of to use as openers. I gladly gave him some names I’ve been working with lately at Zanies.

After all these years in the business I’m finally starting to get at least a little clout with a few bookers. They trust my judgment and if I recommend someone they’ll use that person and if I don’t they won’t. I try to be totally up front and honest and even if I don’t like one of the comics personally I’d still give a recommendation if I knew they could do the job.

Not all of show business is like that though. I’ve been snubbed for some jobs in the past and I know the only reason was that someone somewhere didn’t like me. I polarize people and I know it. I’m either loved or loathed but enough have loved me to allow me to work for over twenty years so I must have done at least something right. Politics is a part of it.

I’ve had to work hard at playing the politics side of the business and I continue to learn and improve. Hanging out on Mondays and being nice to the up and comers doesn’t hurt at all. It’s just as easy to be nice as it is to be a knob so I choose the former hoping I’ll set a good example for them just like C. Cardell Willis set for me. I’m passing on his lessons.

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