If you are a comedy agent, you typically are booking comedy shows all over the country and if you’re lucky, even outside of the United States.  The more shows you book, the harder it is to visit and meet the clients face to face that are utilizing your booking services, it’s just part of the job.

When the shows are somewhat within driving distance to my office, I like to visit them and watch the comedy shows I’m booking to see & evaluate the comedians performing their jobs, as well as personally meet and thank the clients that Summit Comedy are working with.  I call these “Comedy Field Trips”!  Sometimes I’ll bring close friends of mine as well to enjoy the comedy show, and if possible, make a fun trip out of it to include the local sites of the destination and possibly get a round of golf in pre or post show.  Yes, the phrase “I’m working!” sounds hard to swallow as you’re reading this, but I can’t help that there are many perks to my job, and as Taylor Swift says “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate…”, or however that song goes?! 😉

Upon graduating college and before starting Summit Comedy, I worked with the now defunct comedy agency Creative Entertainment.  In my first month of being hired, the company’s owner, Brad Greenberg, said to me, “On Saturday, you and I are driving to Atlanta to go meet with a new club client we are working with.”  This was indeed my first comedy field trip.

Saturday came & we were off to Atlanta, GA!  Brad, was on the phone the entire time making business calls on his big Motorola flip phone like the one pictured below.  I drove, he made calls….one after another.  I was in full learning mode listening to him make and negotiate comedy deals.  I learned a lot from this man and still appreciate the fact that he took a chance on me.

This trip had 2 objectives.  One was to meet up with the very talented guitarist (Gibb Droll) who was apparently a family friend of Brad’s who he wanted to meet up and possibly chat about representation.  Even though he owned a comedy agency, Brad was always looking outside the box on how to make more money in the entertainment market.  He was apparently in the “Wrestling bear” and “Chippendale” business before striking gold in the 80s during the comedy boom.  The second objective was to go visit the new venue they were booking comedy for.

After our dinner with Gibb Droll, we had to shuffle over to the venue.  We drive up to a building that had a marquee saying “ALL NUDE DANCERS” in big letters and underneath in small print saying “& free comedy”.  Yes people, comedy at a strip club.  This doesn’t say a lot for the establishment if you have to offer comedy as a second form of entertainment for a gentleman’s club?!  It was a one comedian format designed to have comedy sets during the “breaks” of the dancers.  That comedian was Billy Gardell.  If you’re not familiar with Billy, many moons later he had a big hit on the CBS show “Mike & Molly”.  Not too long ago I was watching late night TV and saw Billy discussing working up the ranks of the comedy business and Conan O’Brien asked him about the “toughest gig he ever had”….

I literally laughed out loud watching this.  Also, he mentioned in this clip that it was approximately 1990.  My story was actually in 1995, so either he was off on his year, or he worked a LOT of strip clubs early in his career and many other agents have this exact same story.  Haha.  I’ve only met Billy twice early on in my career, but I can’t wait until our paths cross again to tell him this story personally regarding my first ever comedy field trip.  This business is a crazy roller coaster ride full of “comedy field trips”.

-Chuck Johnson
President; Summit Comedy, Inc.