Getting paid to be funny is a great part of being a comic. Getting paid to travel is a bonus. I am being optimistic because, as many road comics have said, “They don’t pay me to be funny. I’d be funny for free. They pay me to leave my house.”
The truth (as always) is somewhere in the middle.
I have yet to be paid for being funny in my own home, other than a couple wonderful writing gigs. So stand-up comedy is a traveling gig, especially when a generous chunk of your income is the once industry-loathed, yet now business-cherished cruise ship circuit. I always liked the security of this work. When I was starting out, the ships booked up to a year in advance. I knew my rent (and later my mortgage) was gonna be paid which is more than many comedians could say. Great hustle and greater hope do not pay the bills. For me, adding ships to the gig-mix relieved (even removed) the “starving” part of “starving artist.”
Visiting foreign countries is great. People end up taking me along with them on their vacations! But returning to the US can be a hassle as the immigration/customs is a busy place at most big airports.
The best $100 I’ve spent in travel assistance is Global Entry. After a deep background check and an interview, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection department grants you a five-year Global Entry membership. The perks? Speeding through a special line that makes airplane connections so much easier to not miss.
As I neared the end of my term on this magic carpet ride through the lines, I had to fill out a renewal application and list all the places I’ve visited. Fortunately, the Global Entry site has a drop-down menu. (Whew!) Here’s what is on my passport, in my memories, and now in their database:
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
(Canada: not needed on the application)
ICELAND (Got to see some of it during a multi-hour layover.)
KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (I had to look up which was which!)
(Mexico: Not needed on the application)
SAINT KITTS (They say “and Nevis” but I’ve never been to Nevis.)
UNITED KINGDOM (Including Scotland and their part of Ireland [North]. I’ve see Wales, but haven’t touched it.)
It was a wonderful, alphabetical recollection of the last five years.
Oman wasn’t a choice, and oddly neither was Indonesia. Been to both. I’ve been been sent to New Zealand and Australia as well, but not in the past five years.
I saw Pitcairn Island, one of the most isolated communities on Earth. When my ship visited, every resident on the island (except one person) came aboard. It’s a big deal for them, a cool deal for us.
Completing the application was more joy than chore, and it should get me five more years of ease of entering the US. Sometimes life is lucky, like being able to head to some great places on the planet to provide laughter. Comedy is not a bad job to have, even when I have to leave my house to do it.