Hey Fanlaps! I’m still alive, just been spending too much time trying to figure things out. More updates tonight!
My initial plan was to help (mostly) pay for my couch surfing tour by driving for Uber, but I’ve found Instacart makes more sense. With Uber, you have to obtain in-state license, registration, and insurance, which is both costly and time-consuming if you’re changing cities constantly. Instacart requires nothing to be instate.
So far, it’s been a $10-13 dollar an hour job, which isn’t bad when you don’t live anywhere. Gas is a bit more of an issue here in Atlanta, because in Boston, I was probably driving 25-30 miles each 8 hour shift I worked for Instacart. Atlanta’s a more spread out city, so here it’s like 60-80 miles per 8 hours.
Right now, I’m actually on shift, it’s just my iPhone is nearly dead, and the fastest way to charge it at the moment is through my iPhone. The Instacart App eats power, even though my phone is charging in my car constantly.
I’d have to talk to the Instacart people, but I’m considering seeing if I could get several Instacart cities activated on my phone, and doing comedy in all most of those cities with New York as my hub. If I could go to other cities for just a week, work for Instacart, and return to NYC. That would be ideal. I’ve been planning on staying places for 3 weeks, because I felt like I could get a good lay of the land, but ultimately I’d like to live in NYC and just travel outside of it as much as possible.
Actually, I just realized I could totally work for Uber and Lyft in one city, Instacart in another, Postmates in another, [blank] in another, etc. Hmm…I may have just had a breakthrough! And my phone’s finally charged enough! Back to work!
Here’s me getting complimented by the host (Dave Thomas) after a set at the Shaskeen in Manchester, NH:
Last night around 8:30pm, I found out the Atlanta abode I was supposed to stay in was no longer available. I have a blanket and pillow in my car for such emergencies, but after a harrowing hour of texting, another comic offered me his futon. And even made some great chicken and margaritas for me! Not a bad deal.
Atlanta’s great so far. I did a fun set at The Laugh Skull Lounge, which is the most popular club in Atlanta, and then went to this cool open mic with a weird twist: you spun a wheel (like Wheel Of Fortune) and it chose whether you did a set, or had to sing karaoke. I was like, “Finally! Musical improv will carry over to my real world endeavors.” Lots of funny, nice comics here. They seem to like to hang out and like each other, are excited to perform, it’s 90 degrees and every dude has a beard. Comedy!
The drive down here was fun too. I cheered every time I entered a state I’d never visited before. I’m one of few people to shout, “Yes! I’m in West Virginia!”
Still ironing things out with Instacart/making money down here, and its going to be work to find more places to stay, but I’m gonna make time to catch up on some video stuff today.
With couch surfing, there’s a weird symbiotic, living-vicariously-through-each-other thing happening between host and guest. Because so far all my hosts have been like, “I’m jealous of your adventure!” And I’m like, “I’m jealous of your living somewhere!” Today, I woke up in an amazing home with a pool, played with my host’s dogs, and then went to Starbuck’s to continue to try to get Instacart Atlanta to return my emails. Yay!
I did The Comedy Zone “Cinco De Mayo Open Mic” last night, which was wonderful. 100+ people paid $8 each to watch an open mic! It’s a testament to how great The Comedy Zone is, and how little there is to do otherwise! Was a very fun show. It’s interest how scared/wanting of the black audience member’s approval a lot of of the white comics are. I started that way too. It’s because you hear how hard black audiences can be, and also ignorance. Probably mostly ignorance. But I don’t really care who’s in the audience as much any more. I’m working on my stuff and getting off stage. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes its not my crowd. Just gotta keep getting better. Oh! The host liked me and asked for my card too, so we’ll see if anything comes of that.
Those are my ramblings for today. Tomorrow I head to Atlanta!
Tonight I had my last two shows in Boston before starting the long drive towards Atlanta. Things have definitely gone from fun to real, to quote the literary stylings of MTV. I spent $50 on an oil change and new engine filter at Meineke, and they tried to get me to do a $200 transmission flush — which people mention as a thing to do on the internet, but my 2005 Toyota Corolla Owner’s Manual never advises it. Also, they put a sticker for a 3000 mile oil change, and Toyota’s only need 5000 mile oil changes, so I trust no one and will be researching this madly. I can’t afford to be paying for much more than gas, oil changes, and insurance on this trip.
Also, while Instacart said they’d switch me to Atlanta so I could work there while visiting, they have not done that. I’m quite stressed out because I need to be making money and I’ve already missed out on a few days shifts because they book a week out. I’ve been trying to email them but haven’t heard back.
And I feel bad, because a friend invited himself on a long drive from NY to Charlotte, and I said no. Maybe I’m weird, but I’ve been doing a lot of comedy, and I just want to drive silently through the woods of Virginia by myself. If you know me, that’s a very Tom Dunlap thing to want, and me wants it. I’ve never been south of New Jersey on the East Coast. I’m sure the view is just less-pine-trees, but driving/bus-riding is kinda meditation to me (unless my GPS recalculates me into a toll, then I’m amazed how much swearing I’m capable of!).
That said, New England has been great to me. I did 19 booked shows in 21 days, plus few open mic here and there. I’m looking forward to taking a couple days off from my act to go to Six Flags tomorrow (I’m excited and almost 30!), and possibly do a couple mics in NYC.
Guess what? I’ve already made more comedy money in three weeks on the road, than in three years in New York: $35 bucks! At this rate, instead of working 25 hours a week, I’ll only have to work 24.5 from now on!
This will be short because I’m exhausted and need to sleep, but…the more I put this project out there, the more people are helping me, and its amazing. I’ve been putting off compiling a “Special Thanks” list, because its gonna be huge. Again, maybe I was unlucky, but after all the no’s in New York, all these yeses mean a lot to me. Look, I’m being sappy and sentimental, and I’m not even drunk. I’m so tired I forgot why I’m writing this…oh yeah! If you have a thing you really want to make happen, start telling other people. That’s how whatever I’m doing now started. I told a few people I was considering this idea, and a few said, “Wow. That’s cool.” And by “a few” I mean probably like 30. Over a couple weeks. And the idea evolved as I talked it out with people. And I’d been thinking about the basic idea since 2011. You get the idea. But seriously, your ideas will never be more than ideas if you don’t at least run them by other humans, and I still can’t believe how much help I’ve gotten. Alright, gotta sleep. Goodnight!
First off, I love both cities for different reasons. However, getting to do shows in Cambridge is amazing, because you can mumble, be too long with your set-ups, screw-up a punchline, and you won’t lose the audience. They’ll still listen to your next joke if you don’t do that too often. In New York, I always felt I had to be funny, and it left me feeling less creative right before I left — like I couldn’t come up with anything new. Part of that was how I was living — in the same routine I didn’t like, spending most of my free time at comedy shows — but whatever pressure I was putting on myself didn’t help.
To New York’s benefit though, because the audiences are more forgiving, you can get away with lazy habits that New York beats out of you. I’ve written this a few times already, but I think both experiences are extraordinarily helpful, and my advice to any comic thinking about moving to NYC from their current comedy scene, is make sure you can leave town and feel funny somewhere at least once-a-month. New York absolutely makes you better, but you need to have fun and see how much you’ve grown, and that is most often apparent outside the Giant Crushing Apple.
That said, so far this tour is a great decision. I’ve already been able to expand and improve a few jokes in ten days worth of shows. Ideas are springing forth, and I don’t feel the pressing need to learn computer programming any more. AND I’ve got four shows booked in Atlanta so far, which I’ve never been to and haven’t put much work into yet, so I’m excited for that!
The Comedy Studio in Cambridge, MA is one of my favorite places to perform. I had a lot of fun there on Friday, and here’s a quick clip of someone interrupting my set by rooting for me: