A recent survey of Equity members, who are involved in variety or light entertainment revealed some pretty interesting results. Entertainment artistes were asked what their top-ten most common gripes and grumbles were, when it comes to the way they make a living.
In descending order, the list of snags came out of this. Mark Ritchie puts his own words to the general grumbles.
10 LONG DISTANCE GIGS. The age-old problems associated with travel. Entertainers who are en-route to evening gigs are often joining rush hour traffic, which can make the journey to the gig long and arduous. On the return journey, the lure of the take-away food or the 24 hour petrol station sandwich, can make the life of the jobbing entertainer pretty unhealthy.
9 CHILDREN RUNNING AROUND. Increasingly, licenced premises are family friendly in the 21st century. Naturally entertainers expect children in the audience in family holiday parks. However, kids using the dance floor as a playground is a very common atmosphere killer.
8 KARAOKE SUPERSTARS. In this age of the dreaded Karaoke, many entertainers become totally cheesed off by amateur superstars in the audience, who think they can sing a song or tell a joke better than the professional on stage. Some are even cheeky enough to try snatching the microphone!
7 DRESSING ROOMS FROM HELL. In run-down club venues, entertainers have encountered mould on the walls and even rodent or insect infestation. However, dressing rooms without the basics of plug-holes, mirrors and even clothes hooks, are made worse when they become a repository for broken furniture and cleaning materials.
6 LOUD PEOPLE WHO TALK THROUGH YOUR PERFORMANCE. Some people seem to believe that they and only they exist. The most thoughtless talk loudly to each other, or even shout throughout entire performances. Selfishness abounds amongst those who consume copious amounts of alcohol.
5 SQUABBLING ABOUT FEES. Entertainers who have just finished their shows and are getting their breath back after the gig, don’t want to sit there squabbling about money with venue managers or club officials. Surely that is why entertainers are represented by agents? Equally galling to some is when cash fees are counted out, often over the bar, in the full view of nosey onlookers.
4 PERFORMING TO LESS THAN 10 PEOPLE. All entertainers have suffered the soul-destroying games that play in the mind when there is hardly any audience. Surviving this is simply a state of mind!
3 BEING ASKED TO ‘TURN IT DOWN’. In social club venues or casino venues, this is a common problem for entertainers. Cabaret acts who carry lighting systems frequently hear a loads of old codswallop, from audience members, who feign blindness or general eye-trouble just as the lights are switched on.
2 END OF GIG CHATS. Just as you and your roadie (if you are fortunate and wealthy enough to employ crew) are trying to get the gear down and carry out into the van, someone wants a chat. Worse still is when inebriated chatty people pick up, without being asked, an expensive piece of kit. If the equipment is dropped or damaged, who pays?
1 AND THE NUMBER ONE GRUMBLE FROM UK ENTERTAINERS, UPSTAIRS CABARET ROOMS. The health and safety issues alone should be enough to make entertainers think twice before accepting upstairs carry venues. So many entertainers end up with bad backs. The risks involved whilst clambering up and down often slippery and poorly lit fire escapes, are considerable and have caused more than the odd fracture.
At UK Cabaret we are sure that the list above rings many bells with so many of our readership. More Vox-Pop style lists of show business pro’s and con ‘s will appear in a later issue.