Seems like everywhere I look, people are offering me less for more. I’m over it.
When I was a little boy grocery shopping with my mother, she would tell me to pick out a half gallon of ice cream. And guess how much ice cream was in that container. One half of one gallon! Now it is either 1.75 quarts or in extreme cases 1.50 quarts. And the price has tripled, which is great if you own shares of Breyers or have type two diabetes.
For a while there, I didn’t realize what the heck was happening. I thought I was Alice in Wonderland or something! Was this a joke? Is the world around me getting smaller? No, the only thing getting smaller is big business’s respect for the consumer.
You even see this phenomenon at Dunkin Donuts, where nowadays there is almost no difference between a donut and a Munchkin! This may be a good thing, since that stuff is bad for you, but then lower the price along with portions, no? I mean, has anyone seen a Snickers bar lately? When I was kid, that was called “Fun Size.” Love that, too. What is more fun about less candy? Maybe fun for the same guy who thinks a four-inch coffee cup is “tall.”
The logical explanation for all of this is that we are stupid. No one seems to notice or care that they are charging us more for less, so why should they stop? They shouldn’t. We’re stupid, they can keep screwing us and shrinking portions while raising prices without consequence. We’re all too busy staring at Kim Kardashian’s boobs on the latest StyleWhore magazine (which has quadrupled in price while shedding 48 pages) to notice that the box containing our Nutri-Grain bars is twice as tall as the six bars inside (there used to be eight).
I see it in poker, too. I remember when the entry fee for a $500 tournament was $40 and included dinner. Now it is $60 and in some obscene cases $70, without dinner. But I hardly ever hear players complaining about the rape, I mean rake. In what other industry could the price increase by 75% in just a few years with zero backlash!?! And all this in a market that is increasingly saturated. What ever happened to competition benefitting the consumer? At these prices, playing mid-stakes tournaments is less profitable than slots for the average player, since the house advantage on the one-armed bandit is actually more forgiving!
Well, if the consumer is willing to pay more for less, he has no one to blame but his own blind, stupid self. If we really are this stupid, they are smart to keep raising prices while shrinking their products. If we are so fooled by clever packaging that we don’t notice or care that there is nothing inside, we deserve to get screwed by The Man.
But you won’t see me playing at Foxwoods or eating Edy’s anytime soon.
As 2010 comes to a close, I realize how fortunate I am to lead the life that I do. I have a wonderful (dual) career that takes me all over the world. I have amazing friends and a loving family. And I personify the old adage “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” For all the doom and gloom in the media and the human tendency to focus on what’s not perfect, my life is great! I am so blessed and so lucky, it was good to be Clayton in 2010.
Here are some highlights from the year that was:
Enjoyed visiting friends in Los Angeles for a few days and then took off for Melbourne, Australia. Competed in several major poker tournaments at Crown Casino including the 2010 Aussie Millions Main Event. Performed at the Last Laugh Comedy Club for several sold out crowds. Fell in love with a city I never thought I’d see in a million years.
Played in the World Poker Tour (WPT) Los Angeles Poker Classic (LAPC), then headed back to frigid NYC to make a few rare appearances in The Clayton Fletcher Show before they decide to change the name! Later in the month, enjoyed performing in and around Albany, NY with my dear friend Greg Aidala. Did lots of writing and plenty of performing this month.
More gigs upstate with Greg Aidala, including a really fun one at Sage College. Taught some corporate comedy seminars in the tri-state area. Continued headlining The Clayton Fletcher Show at New York Comedy Club and working more at Stand Up New York, Broadway Comedy Club, and Carolines. Spent a good deal of time writing and talking comedy with my beautiful and hilarious friend Jamie Lee.
Qualified for the North American Poker Tour (NAPT) Mohegan Sun Main Event. Made my first ever Day Two, surviving a brutal table that included poker greats Hoyt Corkins, Eric Liu, and John D’Agostino. Busted out early on Day Two by losing a coinflip to Shawn Buchanan. Also made two final tables in major events on Cake Poker and took first place in a small event at the Borgata Spring Open. A great month of poker but I am eager to get back to the jokes I am working on.
Hit the stand-up scene really hard with gigs from Asheville, NC to Sag Harbor, NY as well as my twice-weekly headlining gig in The Clayton Fletcher Show at New York Comedy Club. Performed at an “after-prom” party near Canada, which led to a really fun new joke. Served as keynote speaker for the Public Relations Society of America Counselor’s Academy, a big retreat in North Carolina. Taught PR execs how to use comedy to enhance their business models and I felt very well received. Did shows in NYC at Broadway Comedy Club, Stand Up New York, and Carolines. Enjoyed playing softball in Central Park with my team, Dive Bar Collective.
Participated in the 41st Annual World Series of Poker and qualified for the Main Event. This event featured 7,300 of the world’s best poker players. I did not cash but I played against new millionaire Matt Jarvis for twelve hours. Matt finished seventh in this event. While in Vegas I also performed in The Las Vegas Comedy Show with my good friend Joe Lowers.
Auditioned for Saturday Night Live. It was a great experience and quite an honor to be considered for such an iconic TV show. Big shout to my agent for pulling that string and getting me that opportunity! Headlined in New Orleans and opened for one of my all-time heroes, David Alan Grier, in the Hamptons. Taped a segment of “Who’s Laughing Now” for Comcast Television. Even made it to New York Comedy Club a few times to headline The Clayton Fletcher Show!
Hit the comedy business hard this month, doing over 55 shows! Headlined in Saratoga and performed all over New York City. I love summer because it’s great to get up all around town and travel to gigs on my beloved motorcycle. Had a really good month in the cash games on Carbon Poker and Cake Poker late nights after the gigs.
Participated in the Borgata Poker Open (WPT) but didn’t cash. Made the semi-finals of the First Annual World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas. Had a blast being funny and hanging with the gang out there. Congrats to Andrew Norelli, who won the damn thing
Made my European debut with my first trip to Sweden! Enjoyed Stockholm and Uppsala tremendously. Always great to be with my dear friend Zinat Pirzadeh.
Performed all over New York and New Jersey, met a comic named Hamburger, participated in the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza in Las Vegas and got to cheer my good friend Dylan Drazen on to his first major final table in the DSE Main Event! Performed with my old pal Bobby Collins at Bananas Comedy Club in New Jersey. Hosted my biggest gig of the year, my brother’s wedding in Baltimore.
Enjoyed a great trip to Playa del Carmen, participated in the World Series of Poker Circuit Event at Harrahs Atlantic City, headlined at NYCC Boca-Nutz in South Florida and enjoyed a great trip with my buddies Al Martin and Dylan Drazen (aka The Bubble Thugs). Enjoyed a great NFL game between Miami and Buffalo and tremendous cash game action at Isle of Capri Pompano. Then a great Christmas with friends and family followed by a great New Year’s Eve Party at New York Comedy Club.
Surely 2010 was a great year, but what will the new year bring? Time will tell, but here’s hoping for even bigger and better things ahead!
I recently took a trip to Stockholm, Sweden to perform with my comedian family there (www.bokastandup.se). My dear friend Zinat Pirzadeh had been trying for years to convince me that Stockholm was the perfect place to make my European debut. Reflecting on an amazing trip, I have to say Zinat was right!
Prior to my trip, I knew very little about Sweden apart from Ikea, H&M, and The Chef. I expected beautiful blonde people who had no idea who I was and wouldn’t understand American humor. I was right about the beautiful part. I expected funky glasses, European attitude, and a general distaste for anyone hailing from the U.S.A. I was right about the glasses. But still I was really worried about them not getting my jokes.
Sweden is a country rich in culture and education. These people all speak multiple languages and they know all about America. A quick view of Swedish television reveals David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, and Sarah Palin. They know what’s so funny about us!
The shows were incredible! Large venues packed with people who wanted to hear my jokes. They are smart and polite; applause breaks are common and heckling is rare. People even bought my CD, even though they haven’t had a CD player for ten years! I felt so much love from the audience and I just wanted to give it back to them. There is an energy when you perform in a place where comedy is still relatively new, and I found myself feeding off that energy and giving it back to the crowd. What a rush! We did shows all over, in places from Stockholm to Uppsala, and even Tierp. I had a blast.
Performing in Sweden is exactly like performing in America, except the audience is way hotter than you are.
My trip was made even better with help from everyone at bokastandup.se, especially Janne, Sara, and particularly Zerina (my navigator/friend/mama). Without the kindness and generosity of these three, I would be homeless in Karlaplan (which wouldn’t be the worst fate either, by the way).
If you want to visit a clean, healthy, beautiful, high-tech city where people think as well as they drink, I recommend Stockholm. I can’t wait to go back in the spring!
My mother is a superhero breast cancer survivor for five years and counting. Her heroic battle against the deadly disease woke me up to the fact that I need to get involved in helping to fight it. I recently began working with Young Survival Coalition, an organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women and breast cancer. YSC works with survivors, caregivers and the medical, research, advocacy and legislative communities to increase the quality and quantity of life for young women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families.
I know more about comedy than I know about fighting breast cancer, and this Friday I am performing at New York Comedy Club in what should be an amazing show to benefit YSC with
and more!!!!!!!!!!! Tickets are $15 and all profits will benefit this amazing organization. Please make your reservation now by calling 212-696-5233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope to see you there this Friday, May 14th, at 8PM.
If I ever disappear and you don’t know where to find me, one good place to start looking might be Melbourne, Australia. I love this town!
Even though I will not be coming home with the Aussie Millions championship bracelet and the two million bucks to go with it, I will be coming home with some really great memories.
My hotel is located along the Yarra River, which runs right through the heart of this amazing world city. Like a tiny, quaint version of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the CBD (Central Business District) features shops, bars, restaurants, street musicians, and a peaceful, breathtaking image that reminds you this is no average place.
Many of you know how important weather is to me, and I could not ask for better! Here in Melbourne, it is 76 degrees with a very light breeze. There are never any clouds in the sky and no evidence that God hates me ever presents itself in the form of extreme windchill. Every day I look forward to stepping out onto the sidewalk in my shorts and t-shirt. By the way, it’s January.
People here are very warm and friendly. But what strikes me most about attitudes among Victorians is their sheer pride in their city. Yesterday at the poker table a man asserted without irony that “this is the best city in the world, hands down.” And he know darn well that I come from New York! I could not really argue with him, at least not in January.
Tomorrow night is my Australian debut at The Last Laugh Comedy Club in downtown Melbourne. The show is at 9PM and I hope you can make it. I can’t wait to see how people react to my American sense of humor. Should be interesting…
If you like smiling faces, beautiful scenery, world class restaurants, fine arts, nightlife, and sports, you will love Melbourne, Australia. Possibly the best city in the world!
As 2009 draws to a close I realize it has been one of the best years of my life! In the spirit of trying to be thankful for all of life’s precious gifts, I want to look back on 2009 in this blog entry.
I spent most of January freezing my ass off while running to and from various comedy shows. I auditioned for David Letterman and the Montreal Comedy Festival. Didn’t get either but at least I got seen. Brrr it’s cold!!!
Flew West (???) for the winter. Performed in The Las Vegas Comedy Show and participated in the Venetian Deep Stack poker series. No cashes but gained valuable experience in a major tournament. Cleaned up in the cash games so did a little worse than even this month pokerwise. The shows in LV were incredible, as always. Thank you, Joe Lowers!!!
Back to NYC. Auditioned for Comedy Central. Didn’t book that. The Clayton Fletcher Show thrives and features guests like Gary Gulman and Christian Finnegan! Advertising Age did a really nice piece on my corporate comedy training seminar. Performed on Carnival Cruise Lines with my best friend Jason Dowty. Baseball season started. Go Orioles!
Lots of performing in and around NYC. Auditioned for an Uma Thurman movie. Didn’t book it. The Clayton Fletcher Show going strong and now twice a week, every Friday and Saturday. Was keynote speaker at the Lumin Summit in North Carolina. Also did lots of stuff at Carolines and Stand Up NY.
Spent a weekend in Atlantic City with my buddy Al. I won $7,000 for Third Place at Borgata. Had a nice cigar and an amazing dinner at Bobby Flay’s with my pal to celebrate. Performed to capacity crowds in my hometown at The Baltimore Comedy Factory. Debut of my brand new website ClaytonFletcher.com Beginning of softball season in Central Park!
Back to Vegas for The Las Vegas Comedy Show and various debaucherous adventures (none of which can be mentioned as per Las Vegas policy. It stays there).
Met Jamie Foxx and performed on his radio show, The Foxxhole! Also participated in the 40th Annual World Series of Poker. Didn’t cash but gained more major tournament experience. Took Fourth Place at a celebrity charity event at The Playboy Mansion. Still can not believe that I was at the Playboy Mansion!!!
Broke my previous record of 63 shows in one month by doing 74 in August 2009. Most of them in/around NYC at New York Comedy Club, Carolines, Gotham, Broadway, and Stand Up NY. Wrote some new jokes and got them working. Was featured on the Two Plus Two Poker Podcast live from the Hard Rock Hotel.
Worked with Peppercom on a hilarious promotional video called The Sleazy Underbelly. Performed in the Boston Comedy Festival and made the semi-finals. Sold-out Clayton Fletcher Shows every weekend in New York. Participated in the World Poker Tour Main Event at Borgata. Ran kings into aces and then went home.
Appeared on WNBC’s Today in New York. Had an article published for Simple Motivation magazine. New York Comedy Club open mic named Best in NYC. Had a featured role in the film Whistle and Snap featured in the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival. Worked harder on my stand-up than ever before throughout October. Headlined a fundraiser for breast cancer research benefitting the Tour de Pink bike race.
One last trip to Las Vegas for 2009, this time with my friends Al Martin and Dylan Drazen. We had a blast, named ourselves The Bubble Thugs. Not too much bubbling going on as Al finished in first place at Bellagio and Dylan took second at Caesars Palace. My own glory would have to wait one month. Meanwhile, back at the ranch my show continues to sell out at New York Comedy Club.
Third Place at Harrahs WSOP Circuit Event, my first major final table. Organized an amazing fundraiser for Autism Speaks. Christmas spirit gets the best of me and I spend most of the month being a softee. But God do I hate this cold weather!!! BRRRRRRR.
Here’s hoping there is even more good news in 2010! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
I admit it. I am extremely caught up in the Christmas Spirit right now. Look, don’t be offended if you are not a Christian. This post will have very little to do with Jesus anyway. Keep reading!
When I was a boy, they taught us in Catholic school that the true spirit of Christmas is giving. Of course like all the other kids I was like “blah blah blah giving schmiving, where’s my presents!?!?”
Now that I am all grown up, I’m still like that. My first response to almost any request is “what’s in it for me?” and if the answer is “nothing” you can usually count me out. This is the reality of the life of a performing artist: it is the most selfish way to serve others. Today’s actor/model/comedian/dancer/ventriloquist/sword swallower/whatever must immerse himself so deeply into the task of competing for one inch of room at the top there is frankly little time for other people. It’s harsh but it’s true.
But I don’t know what’s come over me lately. I hardly recognize myself anymore! I’m doing all kinds of nice stuff for people and I am starting to wonder whether a gaggle of diabolically charitable aliens brainwashed me in my sleep and turned me into someone who gives a damn. In fact people are sarcastically giving each other quarters today and instructing each other to call me!
Now, I don’t like when anyone makes fun of retarded people. So many comedians go for the hacky, easy impression of a person without all his faculties and whenever I see that I don’t laugh, not even that awkward forced laugh we comics sometimes do for each other out of obligation. I was always taught not to make fun of something a person can not control, such as his height, skin color, or really bad taste in music. My neighbor’s obsession with The Black Eyed Peas is not his fault so it’s not fair game!
I dont know anyone who is autistic. I am not sure I have ever even seen Rain Man. But when the charitable organization Autism Speaks asked me to headline a benefit performance, I somehow overheard myself agreeing to do it for free without knowing what was in it for me. Damn those aliens!
It turns out that organizing and perfoming in that show last weekend was one of the most selfish things I have ever done. My heart has never felt fuller than when I met the audience afterwards. The look on one man’s face when he told me how much he loves his autistic son is one I will never forget. The fulfillment from doing something good for other people around Christmastime is so strong that for about half a second I forgot that my stand-up has never been televised.
It was the greatest half-second of 2009.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
I have a great life. I live in New York City, I work fairly hard and I play very hard. I make a fine living telling jokes onstage and lies on the felt, but one question remains, and I think it is a fundamental question we all must ask ourselves: Why is Clayton Fletcher not famous?
I have been working professionally in the entertainment field for 22 years and I am always amazed at the seemingly arbitrary decisions the “masterminds” who run my industry make. How someone gets picked for this commercial or that comedy festival or this film role seems random at times. The mysteries of who gets put into the fame machine and who doesn’t have always been unsolvable to me.
And then last Wednesday I held an open call for comedians at New York Comedy Club. And I got to see firsthand what those who routinely hold auditions see: people don’t suck!
We had no idea who would walk through that door, but cynically we expected most of them to be just plain awful. And to be fair, some of them were. Truly awful. Decidedly awful. A couple even took awful to the next level, flawful!
But the overwhelming majority of aspiring young performers of whom I sat atop my high horse in judgment were talented! Ah, talent, that undefinable quality somewhere between having a knack for something and being truly superhuman. Sure, many of these comics were green and unseasoned, but even they were original, hungry, gifted, ambitious, and fresh. In a word, talented!
To be clear, there is a difference between being successful in comedy and being famous. There are many professional comedians whose names you do not know. Many of them are talented but none are famous. I recently gave an interview to the popular comedy website Big Ben Comedy about this exact subject. Read it here: http://www.bigbencomedy.com/blog/archives/clayton-fletcher-becoming-a-full-time-comedian/
My job on this day was to pick five performers out of the 45 or so who auditioned for guest spots in my show (which by the way takes place every Friday and Saturday 8PM at New York Comedy Club–shameless plugs may increase your level of nausea and my level of fame). Choosing the top five was impossible. There were at least 17 whom we really liked and felt could do the spots. But we had to pick only five. And the process we used to narrow it down was, well, arbitrary! Since it really didn’t matter, we just took five out the 17 and the rest were out of luck that day.
I couldn’t help but wonder how those we rejected felt. I do a lot of auditioning myself and I often feel rejected, but maybe I should remember that there is always a luck factor in auditioning that is completely out of my hands. Now that I spent a day on the other side of the desk, I know that in show business, as in poker, you have to get lucky. In the end it’s all in the cards.