P.T.Barnum’s American Museum, which hosted 38 million visitors from its opening in 1841 until it burned down in 1865, started getting so crowded that no one else could be admitted. So, he introduced a new attraction – the Egress. Visitors who followed the signs, hoping to see this “Egress” (a new bird, perhaps?), stepped through a door and found they had exited the museum, and they would have to pony up another 25 cents to re-enter. The word “egress” means “exit.”
True story, and a fitting launching-off point for my thoughts today – which are about an exit strategy. Recently a relative of mine asked if I had an exit strategy, regarding my performing career. He, like me, finds himself in the luxurious position of not really having to work anymore, but not knowing how to stop. Having performed professionally for over 40 years, a great deal of my identity is wrapped up in getting out there and entertaining folks. So, I have been loath to make plans for any sort of exit.
I have, however, begun turning certain kinds of gigs down; concentrating on quality as opposed to quantity. This past year I have decided to stop taking outdoor gigs. Dealing with wind, rain, heat, and darkness has long been an unpleasant endeavor for me. So, now I only perform indoors. And I am only booking “after-dinner” shows – no more “during-dinner shows”. I have also cut out jobs that look like they’re going to be trouble going in; like strange costuming, odd situations, or gigs that just really are not a good fit for my energy and style. And nowadays a job has got to be pretty darn great, if I’m going to work till midnight.
This plan has lowered the number of shows I do, but it has greatly increased my overall enjoyment factor. And isn’t that what it’s all about, anyway? This Way To The Egress!!!