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

A Delightful Catch

4807-catch

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Friday December 28th, 2012 – Reno, NV

   Now that I’ve survived the hassles of actually getting here, this is an easy gig. Most casino gigs are, and I love the perks that come with them most other bookings don’t have. The hotel situation is usually far superior, and meals are often comped. That’s the case here, and it makes life easier.

   My room is on the 32nd floor, away from the elevator and maid station so it’s very quiet. I’m an exceptionally sound sleeper and always have been, but comedians are usually relegated back into the bowels of the hotel in the noisiest room possible and it’s nice to not have to worry about that.

   The food deal is a winner too. They give us comp tickets for a delicious buffet that’s exactly in between my room and the club, and once I get off the elevator it’s about a 30 second walk. It’s a self contained complex and I don’t have to step outside one time all week if I don’t feel like it.

   The audiences are transient in gigs like this – much like the audiences on cruise ships. I’m very familiar with how to work audiences like this, and my experience does me well. I have worked in 99% of the places the people are from, so I know how to personalize it and they always love that.

   Another perk here is how nice the staff is. They’re competent too, and that makes for a week of comedic bliss. Half of the staff works for the Silver Legacy Casino and the other half are paid by Catch A Rising Star. Most of them have been here for years, and they all seem to get along great.

   I felt a warmth when I walked in the door on the first night, and it’s continued each night since. There’s always a feeling out period when a new headliner works at a club for the first time, and it happens on both sides. The staff watches to see how the comic treats them and the comic that has experience can usually sense pretty quickly the kind of week it will be by the vibe from the staff.

   Another perk this week is the house emcee Gary Rafanelli. He’s a veteran lounge entertainer of the highest order, and that’s no insult by any means. He’s a fantastic musician, and warms up the crowd with a few songs on the piano. He really gets them going, and it sets the mood splendidly.

   He’s an outstanding entertainer, and it gets the crowd focused on the stage. He’s also part of an ABBA tribute band, and apparently they do very well. He’s been great to work with, as is my old friend Dave Mencarelli who got me in here in the first place. All around, this is a wonderful gig.

   Again, the problem remains how to keep getting them every single week. Gary was saying how it’s the same for musicians, as the amount of lounge work has gone way down as well. He’s great at what he does, and he’s been in the Reno market since 1976 so I’m sure he gets the gravy gigs.

   It’s a big numbers game. For what I’m doing, the number of venues is shrinking by the minute while the number of those who can do the job is increasing. I know I am lucky to be booked this week, but I’m also very qualified to do the job. Now I need to keep getting into more venues like this in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and anywhere else there’s live entertainment. This was worth my effort, even though the travel back and forth is a constant pain. Unemployment hurts even more.

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