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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

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

None For The Money

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Wednesday April 25th, 2012 – Chicago, IL

   Times are getting tougher than I’ve ever seen them - and that’s saying a lot. I’ve had more than my share of difficulty trying to survive before, but not like now. Money is ridiculously tight, and the price of gas isn’t helping anyone except oil companies. How is anyone supposed to make it?

   I got the dreaded last minute call today telling me that two shows I was booked for in Ohio this weekend won’t be happening, and that was a big time buzz kill. Even if it wasn’t much, that was my income for the week. Now it’s a big zero. I didn’t really want to go to Ohio, but this is worse.

   On top of that, I’m not getting anywhere with the idiot who booked that debacle in Berwyn, IL a few weeks ago where the thick skulled and even thicker necked Croatian heckler that had to be bum rushed and thrown out by (count ‘em) THREE bouncers. I’m hearing a lot of excuses - none of them valid. Chances are I’ll never see a nickel, and I’m the much bigger idiot for showing up.

   Piled high on top of everything is the chunk of change I’m owed for the wonderful weekend in West Virginia that fell out in March. That really hurts, as it was a significant amount of cash with a comma in the total and I was counting on it heavily. Having it taken away that close to the date was inexcusable, and I still should be paid in full in my opinion. But that’s all it is – an opinion.

   Fortunately, that opinion happens to be shared by the booking agent I used to negotiate the deal in the first place. It’s Tom Sobel out of Louisville, and he stood to make a payday as well. He did the professional job he always does in putting the deal together, and sure earned his commission.

   I’m sorry the event didn’t happen, but that’s neither Tom’s nor my fault. We had all negotiated a deal between the three of us, and two of us need to be paid. Good luck with that. I’m not seeing much hope of getting a check without going to some kind of small claims court, but that will take time, money and aggravation nobody has to spare right now. I don’t need that. I need my money.

   Tom Sobel has always been great to work with, and I’m sorry this happened for both of us. He goes out of his way to be fair and ethical in his dealings with both comedians and venues, and if all bookers were like him I’d be out of things to bitch about. But they aren’t. And I’m bitching.

   There were a lot of years when I never had to deal with anything close to this. Whatever money I’d been promised, I got. Once in a while there’d be an isolated incident like with that belligerent bully biker bastard in Milwaukee who still owes me $400 from 1992, but those were exceptions.

   Now it seems to be happening left and right, and I’m not digging it. Cancellations are also a lot more common now than I’ve ever seen them. I think I’ve lost more work this year than I got, and I know I’m not the only one who’s experiencing this disturbing new trend. It’s the Wild West out there, and quite scary. There used to be if not rules at least guidelines and courtesies to the game.

   Not anymore. Everything seems to have been thrown out the window and it’s everyone on their own to figure it out for themselves. I’m old school, but I’m going to have to adapt or get out and do something else for a living. I’ve squeaked by this long, but it’s getting trickier every week.

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