Huntington Lame-O Comedy Contest
So, I saw a listing in some shitty weekly e-mail crap I get that announced a need for comedians for this comedy contest/fundraiser that they are doing. So, I sent for the application, which they sent to me, and was horrified to find a $25 entry fee for this stupid racket.
THIS IS A NOT-FOR-PROFIT FUNDRAISER for a NOT-FOR-PROFIT arts organization. They are 501 (c)3 certified, which means that they can get FREE MONEY from NY STATE. They don't even have to have a private fundraiser. I have many problems with this, so I wrote Ms. Donna Drake a letter (the one who sent me the application). Here is my letter:
I wanted to write to say that I think it's nice that you're assembling a fundraiser, but I am bothered by a $20 entry fee (for members, $25 for non-members) to comedians who'd like to participate in this event. Comedians, and most performers, are constantly being charged to perform, and I think that is wrong. Though there are prizes, and I'm sure this is a legitimate competition, I am troubled by the fact that you'd have people pay a $20-$25 FEE to perform in this contest (way out on Long Island, not even in Manhattan). That is as cheesy and morally questionable as having performers BRING FIVE PAYING GUESTS who purchase two drinks each to a comedy club for FIVE MINUTES OF STAGE TIME. (They're called "Bringer shows" and they're WRONG).
It ESPECIALLY troubles me that this is a fundraiser for an ARTS organization. You must know that this reflects very POORLY on the ORGANIZATION - a purported NOT-FOR-PROFIT organization, basically extorting money from performers who they know will shell out $20 for some dreams of glory. VERY lame, you guys. (And if they aren't involved in the financial aspect of this, it appears that they are and doesn't look very good for them).
I recommend that you CANCEL the $20 entrance fee, and instead, make it a $5 entrance fee, as most of the performers who will be entering are not star comics who are making a great living touring around the country making people laugh, as you must know, but instead are struggling and working shitty jobs and taking care of families while they also focus on their dream. Instead, why not leave the fundraising aspect of this to the people who intend to come to the show, purchase drinks and whatever chachkis you are going to be peddling, and the STATE of NY, which sponsors 501 (c) 3 not for profit organizations for FREE. (When was the last time this organization had to send a $20 registration fee to apply for STATE AID? That's what I thought - NEVER). As a matter of fact, why are you having a private fundraiser at all when you have 501 (c) 3 certification and can apply to the state for TONS OF FREE AID?
Unless you change the admission fee, I will not be entering this contest, and I will go out of my way to encourage other comedians to boycott this contest. You are capitalizing on the struggles of the very people you are purportedly trying to help.
Please - do the right thing.
I encourage you all to copy the text of this letter and put your name on the bottom, and e-mail it to Donna Drake. (Or, just write your own damn letter). Her e-mail address is DrakeMedia@aol.com.
In addition, forward it to other performers. We all know that contests, for the most part are crap anyway, but if we all do little things like this now, it will help the comedian community from being taken advantage of by sleazy promoters down the road, especially if any of us ever reach any level of acclaim. Don't be lazy or disaffected, though that's a much easier way to be. Russ Meneve and Ted Alexandro went into attack mode regarding club comics being underpaid. My boyfriend has been passing out flyers for two weeks outside of Luna Lounge during the "Eating It" show because Jeff Singer refuses to book me on the show, citing me as "too alternative" for a show that "is no longer an alternative show". (Jeff Singer compared me to alternative acts Reverend Jen, Tammy Faye Starlight and Rick Shapiro, then had each and every one of those three on his show in following weeks. In addition, he had me perform at the 50 in 50 show, THEN said I was too alternative). I don't think that it is wrong to fight back a little when you know you are being given the run-around. We have no one else to stick up for us, unfortunately, so unless you want to continue to be subject to crappy contests with $25 entrance fees and comedy shows where all your friends have to pay AND buy overpriced drinks and snacks, pull out your balls and get reactive.
Please forward this to anyone you think is thinking of entering this contest, or anyone you think might enter this contest. The reason they charge $25 is because they KNOW YOU'LL PAY IT. DON'T DO IT! Don't be sheep. This isn't a business where you will succeed by paying $25 entry fees and then sitting back defeated.