Huntington Comedy Whatever Continued...
So, Ms. Donna Drake wrote back to me concerning the Huntington Comedy Contest. Much to my surprise, her letter was..., well, read it and see for yourself:
Wow, Thank you for writing. I love your passion, however, I have to defend my position as to why the contest is the way that it is. I would prefer to answer all of your concern by telephone. My home phone number is *** *** ****. I will try to address your concerns here though as well just in case you aren't comfortable in calling me.
Our contest last year brought in 450 people. It is great exposure for the 20 that make it in. The contest is on Long Island, however, there are many of us that work in the entertainment business that live on Long Island. It is centrally location on the island and last year brought in several people from the Tri-State area into the audience. When you say it isn't even in "Manhattan".. I sense that you feel that a show in the city will do more for your career than a show that is just 45 mintues from the city. There is a strong possibility that Seinfeld will attend our event and several major comic entertainers started their career in Long Island including Ray Romano. Everyone has to start somewhere. If you are indeed struggling to raise a family then I can appreciate how the $25 dollar fee is too high for you.
Our contest is more like a showcase than a "bringer" show. I'm good friends with David Brenner and when I discussed my idea with him last year he fully supported the idea as well as other top names in comedy.
In addition to having the ability to perform for 450 to 600 people the comedians will be fed dinner. Their names will appear in a publication that is mailed to 90,000. The contest is being mentioned on several major radio stations. Have you taken the time to read about what the Huntington Arts Council does? It might make you feel better if you realized where the money goes. We had no problem with any of the comedians that entered the contest last year in paying the entry fee. If times are really that hard for you I'm more than willing to pay your entry fee for you. I have worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. I am personal friends with many major entertainment employers in both New York and California so please feel free to send me your materials and I'll see if I can help you. I'm thinking you might be cynical because you've ran into some idiots in the business. BUT I can assure you that this event is held as a benefit not only to the comics but also the community. Most fund-raisers on Long Island charge people 150 to 250 to attend. This event was purposefully designed so that someone that can't pay the high costs of an evening on broadway will be able to enjoy quality entertainment.
I'm slightly concerned that you would feel the need to be so judgmental about an organization or competition that you don't have enough information about to make accusations that you are making. I'm even further troubled by the fact that you would boycott our organization. I pride myself on keeping my word and living with integrity. Please feel free to contact me and we can work something out about your entry fee. Life is too short to spread negativity throughout the community by boycotting something. Like I said, I like your passion but being confrontational about it and threatening isn't quite what I feel is necessary in this world.
Please reconsider your position and just take me up on the offer to help you on the entry fee if you need it and would still like to enter. I would be paying for you as a member of the community and not as a board member or chair of this event. It wouldn't be right for me to waive your fee.. but like I said if you really need some help right now in your life I'm more than happy to give you a hand. If you end up winning you can just pay me back. (smiling).
She added a PS saying she'd forward my letter to the board to read.
I responded with a long, lame letter thanking her for being gracious and eventually accepting her offer to cover my fee. I said I'd rather see the fee eliminated or lowered to a more reasonable $5 fee, but I also know that it isn't going to happen this time around.
So, I guess it's good to know that you (if chosen) will get free dinner and an advertisement. I'd like to see them refund the $25 fee to the people who are not chosen, as per her suggestion - if they do that alone, I'll have considered this letter writing session a complete success. I still encourage comics to write and encourage them to refund the $25 fee to people who are not chosen. If they do that, it will be worth $25 to 100 or more strangers. My one letter will have been worth $2500 or more.