Skull Fest 2012, Part 2 of 3: Contests Are a Gamble

Hi!  I'm Jake!

If you're reading my blog, then you know this is part 2 of 3 about my 2012 Laughing Skull Comedy Festival experience.  Or, you don't know that, and you should check out part 1 first and then read this entry.  Or read this part first and read the other entry afterwards. It's really up to you. I trust your judgment- for now...

Anyhow,  this Wednesday, January 4, 2012, I did my 1st contest set of the year.  As I explained in my other entry, "Skull Fest 2012, Part 1 of 3: The Laughing Skull Lounge, the Perfect Room"
the Laughing Skull Lounge did all they could on their end to make sure all of us contestants had a successful show. WARNING: There is a twist below, but for the most part, they took care of us.

So, now that we know the club did what they could to make the show a success, this blog entry is mostly about what happened on my end.

One of the reasons contestants always feel a bit of pressure in any comedy contest is they are literally gambling with their time and money.  Comedians put their time and money on then line in hopes of winning something bigger: cash- and more importantly, paid work from anybody important who sees them at the festival.

Last year when I did the Skull Fest, I gambled the following:
  • I paid a $35 entry fee
  • I took a night off gigging to do a preliminary round in Seattle.
  • I took a week off work to go to the festival in Atlanta.
  • I turned down 2 weeks' of work at the Loony Bin Comedy Clubs. I lost out on both the pay from the club and a whole bunch of potential merchandise sales.
  • I got a hotel that cost me a few hundred dollars.
  • I got a flight that cost a few hundred dollars. 
  • I spent $100 on food for the week.
In short, you could say I gambled around $1500 to do the 2011 Laughing Skull Festival.

This year, fortunately, I was kind of  in the area to do the preliminary round. So, my expenses included:
  • $35 on the contest entry fee.
  • $60 on my rental car.
  • $75 on gas to and from Asheville, NC
  • $5 for parking.
  • A $20 meal for my girlfriend and me.
  • 1 night off doing paid gigs to do the contest instead.
In short, this year, I gambled around $195- plus any gigs I could have gotten instead of doing the contest.

As you probably figured out, I am not the smoothest operator.  I tend to screw things up frequently.  Being as I had flown from Texas to North Carolina to do all the gigs and showcases I have here, I needed to find cheap transportation to Atlanta. Flying would be $200. A bus would be $100-ish. A Craigslist Rideshare might only be $50.  A rental car was $55 plus gas.

I called Enterprise Rental Car to make a reservation.  They told me it would be $34 for the car and $20 for their insurance- which I should always get. One time I rented a car because somebody had totaled mine. I was on a budget so I didn't get the insurance. As I was pulling the rental car out of the parking lot behind my apartment,  I scratched my rental car against my totaled car.  A 2-inch scratch cost me $300! Crap!

So the rental car was $55. Cool.  I made the reservation. Then, just  out of curiosity, I checked to see how much it would be on Priceline.  It was $33 plus only $11 for the insurance.  So I got that instead.  Turns out the PRiceline insurance is not the same as the "You can run our car into a pole and have a pee fight in the back seat and not owe us any extra money" Enterprise insurance.  So, I ended up spending $34 on the car, $11 on Priceline insurance, and $20 on Enterprise insurance.  So, basically I good-dealed myself into spending $66 instead of Enterprise's $55. Good job, Jake!

Here's where the real problem happened: Like most car rental agencies, Enterprise wants the money for the rental - plus - a $100 hold on your credit card. Well, both my credit cards are pretty much maxed out right now.  I had enough on 1 card for the rental, but not enough for both the rental and the deposit.  I had money in the bank, but I couldn't use my debit card because Enterprise requires all these extra documents (your heating bill, a bank statement, your birth certificate, your wiener print, etc.) on all  debit transactions.

I called Chase to see if I could make a payment on the phone.  Even though it was only 12:45 in the afternoon, they said any payments would post the following day.  They could take my money but I couldn't spend it. Crap!

Demetris, our guy at the Enterprise Asheville (located at 579 Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC) found a solution: he lowered the deposit for us and I was able to rent the car- with $2 to spare!!! Thanks, Demetris!  Also, I had paid for the economy car, but we ended up getting hooked up with a pimped out GMC SUV.  It was a sweet ride with a bunch of USB holes, power everything, and a rearview camera to help when I was backing up. :)

Demetris had talked about my new comedy CD, JAke's First Purge (available at and he said he was going to buy it and download it. Needless to say, after his amazing customer service, I gave him the CD. You should check out that CD too!

My girlfriend is a really positive influence on me.  Every time we get great service, she calls the manager over and tells them how great our server or whomever was.  If you get good service, you too can tell the manager.  Usually the manager just hears complaints.  Any time somebody actually gives them a compliment about 1 of their workers, that's job insurance.

Today, I just called Enterprise to tell them how great Demetris is.  I also told them how I talked about how great Enterprise is on my blog and in a google review. The manager said he'd put all that in his file.  I was glad to hear that. Demetris did a great job and I hope things keep going great for him over there.

"In the 5 minutes I was gone from supper to go pee, my girl joked w/ a stranger and he slipped her $20 so she could "buy a drink." #WTF?"

I took my girlfriend, epilepsy advocate, blogger Callie Fagg with me to Atlanta.  She's 1 of the rare girlfriends that is actually good to take on the road.  She's low-maintenance and everybody who meets her instantly likes her.

In fact, if you follow me on twitter, then you know that she met some strangers on Wednesday.  We were sitting there at Atlanta's The Vortex Midtown , the restaurant that encapsulates the Laughing Skull Lounge.  My stomach had been acting up all day.  It rumbled like a steel mill.

Thinking my stomach issues had something to do with my nerves instead of whatever we had eaten the night before, Callie told me something encouraging about the contest.  She told me I always do well at regular shows.  I should treat this show like a regular show, not a contest.  Good thoughts.  She is a smart cookie.

However, I think I had a legitimate, non psychological stomach issue.  My butt bakery had been cranking out cookie dough plops all day.

The 5 minutes I was gone to the restroom, Callie had made friends with the table next to her.  It was a bunch of 50-year-old guys on a retreat from their wives.  They had been cracking wise, calling their ringleader a gay. One of them had said something about how one of their crew should buy a round for the rest of them.  Callie said something about how they should send something over to her table or something.  Honestly, I am screwing this part of the story up.  Callie was there.  Hit her up on twitter at and ask her about it.

All I know is in the 5 minutes I was in the bathroom, she joked around with these guys about getting a free drink or something and she called 1 of them a homosexual.  When I came back, 1 of them had slipped her a twenty-dollar-bill and told her to buy herself a round.  I go away for 5 minutes and she scores us free dinner!  Man, I love this woman!

If you are curious, she had a 9-inch Vortex hot dog and I had a tossed salad bowl.  We both felt dirty.

Well, I initially said this Skull Fest series was a 2-part-er.  Turns out I have 1 more big twist to talk about.  So, now, this is a 3-part-er.  Here's that link to part 1 again. Join me tomorrow as I finish this up!

UPDATE: Here's a link to Part 3,  "Skull Fest 2012: Part 3 of 3: The Weird Flashy Light Incident"

Bye!  I'm Jake!

P.S. My new CD, JAke's First Purge is available on itunes,, and (among other places)...

P.P.S. Go #skullfest!