To make a play on a Dolly Parton quote, “It takes a lot of work to look this messy.” We don’t like to talk about all the gears and sprockets working behind the curtain when you are in entertainment. The illusion is what you come for. There is a phrase we use in theatre, you want your audience to have a suspension of disbelief. Give them a moment in time where they stop thinking in the logical and start believing in the fantastical. Every week for 5 years Sergey Grankin and I have shown up to the airwaves, laughed until we hurt, dug within the well to talk about difficult subjects and all with an air of ease.
To be completely honest we love every minute of it, but let’s break a rule of ours and give you a little peek into the madness of our world. When we started on our radio show OUTSpoken, we had no idea even how to run the microphones or the mixers. The thought of convincing a celebrity they should spend even a second with us was daunting to say the least. We honestly had no idea how to go about branding a show or delivering something anyone would listen to. When you are independent artists, it is all on you.
So we took a 33 hour crash course on running the boards, FCC regulations, and show structure. We did guest spots on other shows and then we just jumped! It was terrifying, our first 3 years were spent on a LIVE radio show, it’s like walking a tightrope without a net. It’s one thing to keep yourself in check but trying to make sure a comedian doesn’t curse and if they do, did you hit the bleep button fast enough, is enough to give your anxiety quite a jolt. Keep in mind, the FCC is happy to fine you thousands of dollars that you don’t have if you are reported.
The celebrities were a bit of a fluke really. The first shows were just topical discussions. One random email changed everything. Lily Tomlin was going on tour, this was before her hit Netflix show Grace & Frankie, but just barely. One evening after a few glasses of wine I thought, I wonder how to reach out to her? Jonathan plus wine plus thinking gets me into a lot of trouble. After emailing everyone from the show venue to the theatre manager I somehow wound up talking directly to her agent. The kindest and most direct woman in the industry. After many an email we landed our interview. Lily Tomlin actually announced Grace & Frankie on our show! We were bit by the bug and have been able to talk to celebrities in acting, directing, music and beyond. We put in hundreds of hours a month now talking with publicists and agents to keep our show schedule full.
To put an actual show together takes more than most realize. The endless emails just to find an artist’s representation and then convince them your show is awesome and then negotiate the artist’s schedule just to get a 30 minute interview is grueling. That is just the beginning. You have to manage your brand, build and keep your social media strong, get people interested to follow you and then KEEP them interested. You have to do research on your guests, write good questions that don’t sound scripted, find angles that make your show different. You have to run websites, get business cards, book studio times, run your promotions, keep the artists and the agents and managers and publicists happy so they will work with you more in the future. Oh, yeah and don’t forget to edit the show and release it on time!
Most importantly PAY YOUR BILLS. As I stated, as independent artists it is all on us. Domain names and websites have fees, advertising will nickel and dime you, thank you cards and equipment upkeep love your wallet. They don’t say in entertainment you better love what you do, for nothing. We do love it. We understand that not everyone gets to do these crazy things. We get to laugh with each other and talk to awesome humans. We want to keep doing this.
So we started a Patreon account, yep this is where you come in. Basically imagine Sarah McLachlan singing as Sally Strothers tells you how for as low as $5 a month you can help two little gay starving artists. For as much as $50 you can watch those gay boys light up the sky. I won’t give you the hard pitch, you can go find us on www.patreon.com/jonathanandsergey to see the details.
I do hope you got a better glimpse of what your favorite entertainers go through to make it look effortless. There is a ton more but why ruin the illusion completely. I’m going to go start a movement to create a national Hug An Artist day. Trust me, we need it!
See you on the airwaves!