Five years ago an "alt room" was any kind of space that wasn't a comedy club or theater. And alt rooms were few and far between, especially in St. Louis.
But, oh, how the tables have turned. With the popularity of DIY booking, alt rooms have sprung up all across the country, making it possible for comics to tour nonstop. Sure, there are a lot of variables and headaches to booking outside of a club -- pay isn't consistent, you don't always know where you're going to sleep, and there's no built-in marketing or promotional package. But none of that seems to be scaring comics off the road.
Joined by tour partners Lisa Curry and Jessica Michelle Singleton, standup comic Dana Moon will bring the Road Kill Comedy Tour to St. Louis on Saturday, March 21, at Art Bar. Of the outing's fifteen stops, four are in comedy clubs and nine are in bars. Two are listed in alt rooms, which could be anything from a coffee shop with a back room to a gallery or even a living room.
RFT Music caught up with Moon to get the inside scoop on just what's gone in to making the Road Kill Comedy Tour a reality.
Kelsey McClure: Did you work with a different booker in each city?
Dana Moon: Yes. Because of the nature of the tour, that's how it worked out. Some comics go on the road and specifically tour one chain of clubs, which will be done through their booking manager or a rep from the club. We did this all on our own, so it was a lot more tedious because we're not only working with different people in each city, but we have to find the venues to begin with.
Was one person the designated tour manager, or was responsibility divided?
We divided up responsibilities. It's really an insane amount of work, even for three people. Booking venues is just the first step, so we all worked to lock down venues until each city was done, and then we split up media outreaches, with one person taking radio, another taking print and the third handling morning news.
From the first confirmed date to the last, how long did it take to book the entire tour?
Honestly, we could use six months and that would be great, but we only had three months, so that's what we worked with. Lorne Michaels has a thing he says about SNL that's essentially, "There's always going to be a show, whether or not it's ready." You can always use more time because things are constantly shifting around and schedules are getting moved and maybe a venue falls through at the last minute, but you just have to work with what you have and move forward.
What are your main sources for promotion? Social media, local news outlets, etc?
We promote in every possible way we can, but we find that social media is the most effective. Getting morning news and radio spots feels really exciting, but neither has much of a draw, oddly.
What's the most important thing to pack on a comedy tour?
I think we over-packed quite a bit on the last tour. At least I did. We went through a lot of office supplies -- batteries, tape, stuff like that. Once we hit the road, we're sort of "in" this giant machine that is the tour. It's constant promoting and following up until the last show is over, so whoever isn't driving is constantly working on something.
Has this trio gone on tour before?
We toured last November and December. It was our first go at it. It was simultaneously the most work and most fun I think any of us have ever had. We did nineteen cities in a month last time, with two months to plan, and are doing fifteen cities in three weeks this time with three months of planning. Everything is running a little more efficiently this time around, but it still feels chaotic. It's just the nature of putting a tour like this together.
As individuals, what's the longest time you've ever spent with someone else in a car?
Our last tour was it for all of us, since it was a full month. We had a couple nineteen-hour drives in there also, so that definitely put that trip at the top. It was strangely wonderful. In LA, no one ever sees their friends, really. We're all working so much, and the only time we see one another is doing comedy -- working. Being trapped in a car together for a month gave us time to get to know one another as people, rather than as comics.
The Road Kill Comedy Tour 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21. Art Bar, 2732 Cherokee Street. $10. 314-769-9696.
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