Archive for June, 2012

Seattle Celebrity News!

June 30, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Rik Deskin’s interview was posted here about a year and a half ago.  Since then, Rik has followed through on his urge to promote comedy through his Odd Duck venue.  But the economics of the theater are quite bleak.  Producing live theater is for the faithful.  And when some artists involved behave like rabble, it can seem even bleaker.  Nevertheless, a person who ‘does’ something for what they believe in, that’s a little more than themselves, can always hold their head up.  Here’s a follow-up: 

Musing the Equation

A Behind-the-Scenes Look into the Economy of Live Theater

“A note about Odd Duck Studio to Comedians, Actors, Performers and Producers

Some of you know this. Some of you may be oblivious. I write this after spending several long hours in the Emergency Room with my 17-year old (for a possible concussion) and only a few hours of sleep. Don’t worry, he’s okay, but I’m now down $150 for the co-pay.

I am not independently wealthy. I am an unemployed actor. With a wife and four kids. Occasionally I do book acting work. Sometimes I work as a stagehand. Sometimes as a temp.

I started Eclectic Theater Company as a non-profit organization, hopeful that eventually, this company would provide me some income as the Producing Artistic Director. (I’m still working on that income part)

In 2006, my company, still all volunteer, took over management of the Odd Duck Studio. Primarily to have a venue where ETC could produce plays regularly and have a home, as well as be able to rent out the space to itinerant theater companies and co-produce Improv, Sketch and Stand-Up Comedy.

It’s been an uphill battle just to keep the doors open since the economy tanked in 2008. Since the beginning of the company, I have always given half of what was made at the box office or in donations to the performers and artists that work at my theater on anything I produced or co-produced. Sometimes sacrificing paying the rent on time (I do have to pay monthly rent for Odd Duck Studio: I’m not the owner), sometimes borrowing from my own family’s meager income to keep it afloat.

Which is why in May, I instituted a new policy on all productions and co-productions that were dependent on a box office split. The first $125 in the door paid the rent for the night. The second $125 would go to the performers. After that it would be a 50/50 split. But before anything was distributed, we would have to take 5% out of the overall gross for the Admissions Tax that must be paid to the City of Seattle.

Katie Morgan

These kinds of shows are risky to me. Sometimes they can sell-out, enabling everyone to walk away happy. Sometimes they barely meet the rent threshold. And I staff it with volunteers and spend volunteer time to market and try to sell tickets. It’s great for the other co-producer. All they have to do is promote the show and show up to perform. Which is far easier and less risky for them than renting the space at a flat rate and selling tickets and providing their own crew to run the box office, lights and sound.
Last year, a producer booked a large rental use of the Odd Duck Studio that would have covered our basic costs (rent and electricity) from May-July. They cancelled in May, leaving me scrambling to fill the dates with something that could possibly generate revenue. Right now we are two months behind in the rent.

I posted in all the Facebook groups that I’m in, that cover theatre, film, improv and stand-up to see if anyone wanted to rent space, produce or co-produce shows. Nothing. Only the sound of crickets. So I put together the Brown Bag Comedy Primetime Specials. I thought I was pretty clear in my original posting that this endeavor was solely dependent on box office revenue And that I would need the help of the Comics booked to promote their shows so that we can sell tickets so that I can pay the Comics. So far only two shows have made the rent and given something back to the Comics. I would much rather pay $74 to a headliner (I know that’s below Comedy Club rates) than $1.35. But that can only happen when tickets are sold and they don’t do that by themselves.

This brings up another point. Odd Duck Studio is not a Comedy Club. It is a theater run by Eclectic Theater Company, a non-profit organization. We don’t have a kitchen, restaurant or full bar to cover our costs like other venues. Our partial bar/concessions basically pays for itself most nights. The person behind the concessions counter only makes tips. Last night I made $4 between two shows. I think the most I’ve made is $35 in one night.

Here is my original post from May 22, 2012:

“Eclectic Theater Company at Odd Duck Studio is looking for Comedians for a series of Brown Bag Comedy Primetime Friday night specials throughout the summer. Two formats: Hour long special with two 15 minute Opener slots (one is the Host) and a 30 minute Feature. Ticket is $10. 50% of the box office (after 5% admissions tax) goes to the Comedians after rent threshold has been met ($125). That means when the show sells out (49 seats), 3 Comedians would be splitting up to $232.75.

90 minute special would be a traditional format with a MC/Opener (15 minutes), Feature (30 minutes) and Headliner (45 minutes). $15 Ticket with 3 Comedians splitting up to $349.12. Same applies with rent, etc above.

The splits would be proportional to performance time lengths.

Keep in mind that I’m a volunteer running a non-profit theater venue, so 50% is the maximum I can split on these shows in order to keep the doors open and I would need the help of the Comedians booked to actually promote and sell their shows. I know the door split is less than some Comedy Clubs, but that’s all I can offer for now.

I know it’s possible to do as demonstrated by Hari Kondabolu and Katie Morgan over the last two years.

With this all in mind I’m looking for serious Comedians willing to invest their time and effort to being on the rosters of these shows and making a little extra pocket change. As soon as the rosters are full for each show, I can begin listing them on Brown Paper Tickets and marketing. And if any savvy graphic creators want to design an image for a show or all the shows, a percentage can go to compensating that as well.

Show dates will be:

June 1, 8:30-9:30pm
June 15, 8-9:30pm
June 22, 8:30-9:30pm
June 29, 8-9:30pm
July 6, 8:30-9:30pm
July 13, 8-9:30pm
July 27, 8:30-9:30pm”

Why tell you this? Because I love Stand-Up Comedy as much as I love Theatre, Improv, Sketch Comedy and Film. Stand-Up has been a component of Eclectic Theater Company’s programming as early as 2007 when Blood Squad would bring in Comics from PROK to open the shows. It’s been a part of my life since I trained in Improv and Sketch, and observed Comics working at The Comedy Workshop in Houston back in 1988-1989. In December, 2010, there was a vacuum left by Giggles turning its back on Comedians. I wanted to help by offering a weekly open mic to help Comedians work their craft and give Comedians an easy venue to work with and sell-out (like Hari Kondabolu, Katie Morgan, Blood Squad and Yogi Paliwal) and help me keep the venue open as a place for all of us to work.

I want you to understand the economics. The business of the art. On nights like last night where the bulk of the tickets are sold through Brown Paper Tickets instead of over the phone or in person, I don’t see that money until the following weekend. On the evenings where we do sell enough so that I can give back to the performers, that money usually comes out of any cash sales that happen because I want to send Comics home with something.

Every once in a great while, I encounter an actor or a burlesque artist or a comedian that does not understand why I can’t pay them the rates they are accustomed to and that I wish I could pay them and they somehow think I’ve lied to them and am living it big off a show that sells less than half the 49 seat capacity. Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the truth. I do not make a penny (beyond potential tips) until we pass the $250 mark at the box office on any given night. And if rent needs to be paid, electricity, insurance, then I waive any possible pay for my time in order to keep the theater open and available.

So those open mic nights where no one buys a ticket and no one buys a beverage or snack? I eat that time and expense bussing or driving to and fro and the time to facilitate other performers cultivating their craft.

From this point on, you cannot say that I never explained it to you. This is my contract with all of you that choose to perform at my theater. I encourage anyone out there that thinks they can do it better than me and keep this venue open, then by all means the gauntlet is thrown. I’d love to have your help. If you are going to take a hit financially by coming to perform in a show that has no guarantee that it will sell, then don’t do it. I’m not the Mafia. I’m not going to twist your arm. I’m trying to build something long-term here that I am hopeful will eventually always pay everyone that works with my company.


Rik Deskin”

Photos by Carl Nelson


From the Editor’s Perch…

June 24, 2012

Selling Art

Creativity and Sales

Posture is Everything


Selling is a great teacher.  And one thing selling has taught me is that in order for people to part with their money, they have to feel certain.  People must feel certain that what you are offering is what they need.  And people must feel certain that you can provide what you are offering.  After that, you are dickering over cost.

Of course, each of these factors bleed into one another.  But, what they all have in common is this feeling of certainty

This presents problems for the marketing of Art.  Because Art is full of questionables, imponderables, unnamables, inscrutables, immeasurables, unfathomables… the list is long.  But all have one thing in common: ‘uncertainty’. 

Now whether people are buying something or giving money away, they still want this sense of certainty that their assets are not being wasted.  So how does one go about selling Art?

Well, the only thing more uncertain than Art might be people.  And traditionally people are sold by dressing them up in certainties.  You dress successful; you act successful; you speak successful; you move successful; you associate with success – you appear successful… and you stand your best chance of being purchased successfully, because you have made people most certain of your success.

Art is sold in much the same way.  What is absolutely undefinable, unfathomable and inscrutable is dressed up in the certainties.  Let’s see how this applies to the theater.

Your average regional theater purchases successful produced plays to present; it uses successful authors; it hires successful directors and actors and set, sound and lighting people.  Its productions take place in up to date venues located in the better part of town.  It struggles to become the most prominent (successful) theater in town.  The more successful the theater appears, the more money it is given.  And the more money it has, the less risk it can afford to take.  Because, the rule is, you only spend your money with certainty.


The creative artist creates.  They are not re-iterative.  They lack production tools, marketing brio…  Everything is a prototype.  Nothing goes into production.  Once something has been produced, then the artist’s job is done. 

The creative artist tends to spurn the trappings of success, because trappings are hindering, because they are already known quantities, because they are certain.   The artist’s job is to pursue what is uncertain, ineffable, unknowable and caste it in the certain.  For example, we cannot wholly know a person – but we can write their speech.  We can record how they act.  We can illuminate and give insight.  We can create the feeling of certainty.  “They feel so real,” an observer might say, or even, “I knew that person.”  From immanence (pagan) or transcendence (Judeo-Christian), but more likely from some of both such certainties are sculpted.  The creative artist sculpts certainty from risk.  And because money is shy of risk; money necessarily skirts the creative.  It is a very great artist indeed who can create the certain as a naked thing, and just walk them out of the sea.  Even the best often must dress them in some fashionable garb or another.

So, okay.  I’ll cut right to the chase and say, yes, money is good for Selling; but it’s bad for Creativity.  So the next time your hear your local Arts organizations lamenting the fact of there being no money out there for the Arts…  just think:  Maybe bad for them, but good for us!

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch…

June 23, 2012


Does Art Make You a Better Person?

A lot of people, mostly artists I’ve noticed, say it does.   And it’s usually only artists – or people in arts related careers, who are pitching for a fuller revenue stream  – who broach this topic.  You rarely hear of a lawyer, or a garbage collector, or a plumber, or a cop, or a mayor, or any of any number of professions raise this question about themselves.  They seem to take it for granted that being paid for doing something useful is worthwhile, and hopefully, that participating in life in this capacity makes them a better person.  But it may not.  That’s the way it goes.  A person has to get the food on the table. 

However, artists have a lot of trouble even ‘getting food to the table’.  So another reason to justify doing what they are doing seems necessary.  Personally, I would keep looking for a reason, because I haven’t seen the theater turning out superior persons.  Mostly it makes them like gambling addicts who will squander their last few dollars to create a hit.  Their relationships founder; their lawns are not mown;  weeds abound in the flower beds, their homes tilt; the children either aren’t conceived or grow up a little funny, and financially the whole consortium dances right along the edge.  Actors and writers maintain that assuming the personalities of a variety of characters gives them insight into the human condition.  What I see is that it adds quite a little arrogance to their own condition.  We are always writing/acting ourselves.  Who’s kidding who?  It’s as plain as the nose on our faces – which doesn’t change.  Has art made me a better person?  I can’t say it has.  But age, and life, may have formed me a bit.

How About Beer?

But has beer made me a better person?   I can’t say it has, either.  But I enjoy it.  And so I enjoy art.  I enjoy making it.  I enjoy watching and listening and experiencing it.  I enjoy talking about it.  And like most artists, I figure out a method  of paying my way.   Isn’t that enough?  

Photo by Carl Nelson of John Ruoff/Mime

Addendum:  “There are, of course, more important things than art:  life itself, what actually happens to you.  This may sound silly, but I have to say it, given what I’ve heard art-silly people say all my life…  Art shouldn’t be overrated.”  – Clement Greenberg

From the Editor’s Perch

June 21, 2012

Editor’s Note:  You’ve noticed, if you follow the content of this blog, that we are concerned with the difficulty Artists have in supporting themselves financially.  So, from time to time, when we run across what seems like a good way to pick up some quick scratch – we try to mention it here on Schn00dles Blog.  

 Carnation Housewife Earns Money From Home Directing Drones for the Military



           When Margaret DeMarie fell asleep watching the late show two years ago, she awoke to see a job opportunity staring her in the face.

          “There it was,” she says, “just sitting there on the screen: an 800 number with the words, ‘earn money from home’.  It was eerie.  The station had already gone off.   It felt as if God had spoken.  So I called.”

          “To make a long story short, it involved watching TV for money!  And I could do it while ironing, cooking, or even knitting or watching my grandchildren.  They didn’t care.  Or maybe, they didn’t know.  But what mattered was whether I had an eye for anything ‘suspicious’.  When something caught my eye, (and we were trained a bit with a special video as to what to look for) I was to hone in on it by enlarging the screen, and if it panned out, to pin-point the coordinates and hit ‘send’ on the special flipper these two men – who installed a special black box on my TV – gave me.  A military contractor then analyzes it and forwards what they find – onto the military, if it was ‘so warranted’, for ‘engagement’.  We make more or less money, depending upon the strategic value of the intel we have forwarded. “

          “At first I wasn’t making more than a couple dollars a week.   But then, the second month in I happened onto what we call a ‘hot target’.  Just last month I bought a dishwasher with what I was paid!  It was installed during the day, so it was a week or so before my husband, Phil, even noticed.”

          “Isn’t this a new dishwasher?” Phil asked one evening.

          I nodded.

          “However did you get the money to buy that?”

          “Pin money, dear,” I told him.  “Pin money.”


 Photo is of a professional model, taken by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

June 8, 2012

Divine Marigolds Goes to Hollywood


(Editor:  Notice the green shirt.)

“Bobby Cory (a masterful pitcher) and I just pitched 11 companies on The Divine Marigolds and 8 reality tv shows (under the auspices of Evergolden Entertainment). The last company we pitched, CAA had a very positive response to Marigolds. Regardless of the outcome, I want to thank all of you who have supported this amazing journey. I could NOT have done this without your support. Mad love people, mad love. — at Roosevelt Poolside.”  – Will Phillips

Photo by Unknown


From the Editor’s Perch

June 8, 2012

Living Longer

Honey, we need to talk about our son.

It surprises me that some news does not get more of a ‘rise’ than it does.  For example, many years ago I read a small squib in the newspaper which noted that sociologists had found that children of practicing nudists had negligible rates of juvenile delinquency.  (Why?)  I’ve never heard anything more about this.   And currently our teenage son is behaving well, so we’ve had no reason to test it.

And now, just the other day, in an NPR interview I heard that scientists doing an experiment found that rats fed every other day lived 65% longer than rats fed every day.  They also noted that after correcting for other variables, Mormons are suspected of living longer because of the monthly fasting required by their faith. 

Well now, if I were to live 65%  longer, that would pencil me out at about 150 years, and I would be able to see what is going on around 2100 AD.  Moreover, I reasoned, if fasting would enable a person to live 65% longer – wouldn’t he/she also necessarily be 65% healthier.  And if I live well into the advent of The Great Singularity, isn’t it possible that I could go on to live forever?

So, I’ve decided to fast one day/week.  Yesterday went fairly well.  The first few hours following breakfast, I was more ravenous than at any other time.  All I could think about was food.  And I became appalled at how eating seemed to mark all the most pleasurable landmarks of my day.  But I reassured myself that this was pretty much all my dog and cat and the cows in the field I drove by every morning thought about, so it was a reasonable experience for an animal to have.  And it didn’t mean I lived a shallow life.  Which calmed me.

Then, as the day past, my hunger took a back seat to other activities.  And by the next morning, I honestly felt no hungrier than on any other morning.  Physically I felt better, except for a little listlessness.  It reminded me of an observation a friend of mine who served food in a homeless shelter made.  He said the men initially were quite docile and happy to find a warm place to eat.  But as soon as the food got in them, they often became quite bellicose.  All of the anger and resentment they felt about their situation began to express itself. 

I just became a bit more animated.  I’m not homeless.  And a day begun with a good breakfast is just a finer experience.  Anyone would guess that.

Anyway, if this works, you should be hearing quite a bit more from me.  Time will be on my side.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Travelling Expenses

June 1, 2012

Editor:  If you’re an agent, better duck!  Paul’s on the loose…

…And While I’m at It”


“I am looking for an Agent. I am looking for an agent who has as much belief in my talent as I do. I am looking for an agent that will never send me on cattle calls. I am looking for an agent that values the fact that they represent me. I am looking for an agent that will put up with my bullshit because I am at that stage where I have had enough of theirs and every one else’s. I am looking for an a…gent that knows that I am not a 50 to 60 year old background possibility for whatever corporate client is looking. I am looking for an agent that understands that a bit part on Grimm or Leverage just isn’t going to cut it for me! I need an agent that knows the difference between narcissism and an absolute belief in self without ego! I need an agent that knows that the future is full of riches associated with my talent. I am Paul Eenhoorn, I am an Actor and I am fucking good at it. Just ask my friends who shape the future of film in this town.”  – Paul Eenhoorn

 Photo by Unknown  (maybe the police?)

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