On Feb 18th 2010, I performed my first nooner. Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. For those unaware, in live entertainment, a “nooner” is a college show performed in the cafeteria. They are notoriously brutal. The pay is never as good, but generally (read: ideally) nooners are booked in between “real gigs.” I was heading from a college entertainment conference in Boston to a youth conference in Hartford, CT. The idea is that if you’re out on the road anyway, it’s better to be working and pick up as many shows as you can. Maybe not…
With live entertainment, there are certain tiers of gigs. There are all sorts of crazy carnie algorithms (carnalgorithms?) that can process how difficult a gig will be. One of the most basic is whether people are coming to see you perform (even if they have no idea who you are or what you do), or whether you are thrust into a situation to perform… for people who had no idea there is a show going, and no desire to see a show. You are interrupting them, their meal, and their conversations. You are irritating them. You are performing … “a nooner.”
There are nooners that are rough, and there are nooners that are really rough, i.e. they make you contemplate getting out of the business. There are no good nooners. If a performer responds to a nooner inquiry like “how was the show” with “I killed!” he is lying. He may have tried a new bit for the first time (why not?), he may have survived with some pride, but he did not kill.
After setting up in the corner, surveying the situation.. “well there are some cute girls over… better not play to the hooded men in jerseys, etc,” I followed my normal pre-show tradition and retreated to the men’s room to “get in the zone.”
I sat in a stall to clear my mind and bowels (not in that order), and looked up to see the flyer below taped to the inside of the door. I was the third announcement for that day… the girl scouts had beaten me. And there was “Thin Mint” laughing at me… standing on top of me, crushing my spirit with her evil smile.
In case you’re wondering, “I killed.”