A Mind Blowing (Music-Related) Lesson in Professionalism

May 12, 2009

I went to the TV on the Radio concert last night at Mr. Smalls, a small church-turned-theater in Millvale.  And while my friend and I waited at a local bar, we started talking to a gentleman who turned out to be the booking agent for the venue.  He told us a lot about the music industry and stories about artists who had come through Pittsburgh before.  He talked about the frustrations that can go along with booking a show.  They are mind-boggling; we wouldn’t understand unless we were in the biz.

I told him that I was a comedian and had limited experience in the booking world and can certainly appreciate the large amount of work that goes into setting up a small bar show, let alone a whole concert.

We asked if TV on the Radio was any good live.

“I’m a little worried.  Usually Pittsburgh is in the middle of the national tour,” I explained.   “So I figure the band probably gets into that automatic mode and just phones in the performance.”

“Let me ask you something,” he replied, about to blow my mind right out of the Yuengling mist.  “When you’re getting paid to tell jokes, do you ever ‘phone it in’?”

“No.  At least I don’t think I do.  I always try to give a good show.”

“Why is that?” he probed.

“I guess it’s just a pride thing,” I replied.  “I want everyone in the audience to like me.  And when someone pays me to perform, I don’t want to disappoint them or the audience.  But sometimes I just don’t feel as funny as I do other times.”

“So are your jokes as funny in a dive-bar as they would be at Carnegie Hall?  In other words, does the environment dictate the inherent funniness of the joke or your talent level for that matter?”

“I guess not.  It’s just different delivery from time to time.  It might not be as good if I’m not that into it.”

“Its the same thing with music.  Each song is a finite thing.  The song goes a certain way, just like a joke. Not much changes with the songs that bands play,” he lectured while setting the brain-dynamite firmly in my frontal lobe.

“And the delivery, the electricity of good show, comes from that pride, that ego of wanting to be the best in the room, no matter what.  Only good performers have that mindset.  And these guys are professionals.  Are you?”


P.S. The show was awesome.

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