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

What's In A Name?

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Sunday January 6th, 2013 – Nashville, TN

   I’m extremely grateful for the work in Nashville this week, but I’m also glad it’s over. This has never been one of my favorite places to work, even though I genuinely like the people who work at the club. They’re very friendly and they always treat me great, but audiences here stare at me.

   They did again this week, but I’ve learned to expect it so I didn’t panic. The right thing to do is shut up and know there’s a paycheck involved. I don’t like to do that as a rule, but in these times it’s the correct decision. Work is getting harder to come by, so rather than complain I’ll be quiet.

   There are literally hundreds of comedians who would have loved to have this gig, so I’ll take it as a victory and move on. It was a chance to practice in front of a Southern crowd all week, and I know in my heart I did the best I could. It wasn’t the response I’m used to, but that’s how it goes.

   I read an interview with Benny Hill once about how he absolutely hated to work in the northern part of England when he started because audiences there stared at him. He said he never did well, but then he became famous and got booked on a Northern tour and they adored him. Go figure.

   A major part of the entertainment business or business in general is being a known commodity. If I were known in Nashville I’m sure I’d kick ass. I’m not, so to them I’m just another run of the mill Yankee – and they don’t like Yankees as a rule. To them I’m the one who has the accent and I have to prove myself every single time I step on their stage - sometimes with every single joke.

   There’s a definite underlying tension, and some nights it can be thicker than others. I used to be intimidated by it, but now I’ve learned to expect and accept it. It’s nothing personal, and if I want to get paid I’ll shut my mouth and do the best I can which is exactly what I did all this weekend.

   Nobody cares if I liked any of the shows – and I didn’t. They were really difficult, but I smiled a lot and was polite to all who came up to say they enjoyed the show. I’m happy to acknowledge the effort of anyone who takes time to come up to me at the end of a show. I appreciate them all.

   I think it’s of the utmost importance to be polite in those situations, and I try to do so to a fault. It really doesn’t matter what I think about anything. On this night I was booked here, and nobody in that audience had anything to do with it. Taking my frustrations out on them is unprofessional.

   What I need to do is find a way to get booked in places where they come specifically to see me and not just a random comedy show. I’ve been trying to crack that bastard of a nut since day one, but I still haven’t done it and that needs to change. I have a very solid act, but being an unknown dilutes that significantly. There’s only so high of a level I can ever reach with a crowd like this.

   I’ve seen comedians work when the audience knows them and it takes everything to a sky high level instantly. The audience loves the comedian before the show ever starts, and that’s the point I have been trying to get to since I started. It’s been a lot harder to reach than I ever imagined, but I still hope to get there before it’s all over. I might not get it in Nashville - but then again I might. 

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