“EVERYBODY HAS A PRICE IF YOU DIDN´T YOU´D BE PRICELESS”
Spoken words by the king of Underground comedy, Katt Williams from his latest special “PRICELESS”. Wasn’t my favorite special amongst his catalogue but I watched it anyway. I was just happy to see the brother out of the tabloids and back on stage. Nevertheless that statement got me to think about my worth as a comedy performer.
When do you start to ask for money for your craft? After all its not like a job where you get a rate and is based on performance, evaluated every 6 months for a raise, oh no. Most performers/artist are underpaid their whole career. Which begs the question, am I worthless? Its not like there is a math equation for the entertainment industry. X amount of time put in x talent/chance = BIG MONEY. So when do we start asking for money? Truth is, there is no truth. People will take advantage of you in life if you allow them. In your relationship, job and especially as an artist.
My rule of thumb, I usually ask to get paid if the its a paid gig. If there is a cover for the show and there’re asses in the seats, there should compensation. Many times I´ve been paid with a meal and drinks, but you know what, I can make better burgers at home (#ASHKANBURGERS) and buy better beer at the systembolaget. No thanks bookers, pay my comedy in currency- SEK!
Once you start asking and people say that they won’t pay you, then at the very least you know where you stand with that booker. Hopefully they will respect the fact that you hold your craft in high regard. Maybe next time they will pay you.
I always wondered what it would feel like to sell out. What is the magic life changing amount that would change my future. This always takes me back to the infamous Chapelle Show that why it was so abruptly halted due to the big question, does 50 million USD mean we own you? At least I think that´s why Dave left, but not getting into that. Whats your price? This got philosophical I know but it is a important question we all must ask ourselves at one point or another. What is my worth? How much money would it take for me to give a dirty hobo a hand-job? Hey there’s an idea, hand-jobs for the homeless. HA!
In a sea of advertisers, social media predators and wi-fi hackers, it seems the future will be riddled with your worth being sold to companies, hidden stipulations and secret societies. I get upset when someone asks me to do free shows because my craft is worth something even if its 500kr.
To the people who are saying, “but you run a free club every thursday” yeah that´s for rookies and newbies who need a stage time which is why it will always be a free club. I´m talking paid entry clubs!
I´m no spring chicken almost 30, 7 years under my belt with what seems to be a culmination of stand-up/improv/sketch comedy experience but the industry is not exactly quantified by stage time accumulated but more so what I find truer as I work is, WORK PUT IN! Shows, specials, albums, merchandising, tours, podcasts, followers, monetization, after a while you have to step out of your artist shoes and put on the business slacks.
This is comedy business after all. There´s a way to measure what work you put in your portfolio nowadays with all social media outlets and google analytics. There are exceptions to the rule tho, some people have industry buddies, contacts, look I’m not going to lie, there is a sh#tload of nepotism and favoritism in entertainment, but we already knew that. I´m not a idealist nor am I naive, claiming everything should be fair and square. I realize for me to “make it” is my subjectivity. Just asking, can there be some middle ground? I don’t want to be priceless neither do I wish to be worthless. I’m just no longer allowing burgers and beer as form of payment.
In the meantime, I´ll be shouting quoting Kanye quotes “F##K YOU P@y ME!”
KNOW YOUR WORTH COMRADE!