How many shows do you perform in a year?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question over my career.

Usually by other entertainers, sometimes by people who are just curious. Seldom by clients.

I know some acts that can tell you how many shows they have done since they started performing.

I’m definitely not one of those – I can’t even tell you how many shows I did this month unless I have my schedule in front of me.

There are entertainers who wear that number as a badge of honor. They try to impress people with how successful they are.

A higher number of shows obviously means they are in demand and successful, right?

I used to feel that way. Until I met a guy who only did 22 shows a year. He was earning more in those 22 shows than I was doing 250 to 300.

That really changed my perspective on show numbers.

Maybe a high number of shows meant you were in demand and successful. Of course, it could also mean you were cheap and willing to do anything that came along.

It also varies by market.

No way could you earn a living only doing 22 school shows or 22 fair shows a year. High end corporate was a different story.

At my peak, I was doing about 300 shows a year.

Another act I was working with asked me how many shows I did a year. I told him.

He said there was no way. I was at the fair for a week, and he counted that as one show.

So let’s clarify:

A show is each time I go on stage in front of an audience. At the fair, I was doing 3 shows a day for 7 days – 21 shows.

A gig is different. A gig is the event. I was at the fair, I was at Virginia Beach, I was at …

You may not do as many gigs, but shows are different.

I am paid by the show. The number of times I go onstage to entertain.

So never judge someone by how many shows they do in a year. It may not be as impressive as you think.

Then again, it may be much better than you imagine.