I’ll admit to being two-faced

A few weeks ago I posted about some of the crap you have to take to make it in the comedy business.  I wanted to add another part of that because I practice it as well.  A lot of people may disagree with me about this one, but over the years it’s helped me get a lot of gigs.  In businesses other than comedy, the rules are the same.  Comics who are still fairly young may not have experienced a career/profession yet, so they may have a different set of standards.  If you work at a T.G.I.Fridays and you want to tell your boss off, you may lose your serving job (As Essig said in a bit once) “There’s an Applebee’s across the parking lot that’ll hire you.”  With a professional job you have to tolerate your boss even if you hate him or her and many of the people you work with while getting through your day with a smile.  Comedy must be dealt with in the same way.  There are a lot of dysfunctional people in showbiz, so not everyone is going to be nice.

Here’s the point…you’re going to work with a lot of people whom you don’t like.  Whether it be club managers, headliners, or any other level of comedian on the show.  Keep your feelings to yourself because no matter how you feel about them they may actually help you one day.  Need another reason?  If they find out you have something against them, they might have the means of keeping you from certain stages.  Comics remember who screws them over and will talk about it with each other.  Each week that you work with a certain headliner can be the equivalent of a job interview at that club or at others.  Even comics who are further along in the business need to respect the MC because that MC’s home club might be one they’re trying to get into.  When I first worked the road as an MC, headliners and features treated me very well because they knew I was a doorman at the Columbus Funnybone and that it was my home club.  

In my book, I explain how a headliner who once got me into trouble, later allowed me to get my first week as a feature act at a different club.  Face it, us comics gossip and chat before and after shows, especially when drinking is involved.  You can either gain friends or enemies.  For example, a lot of the older headliners seem to be very passionate about politics.  Instead of getting into an argument, just nod along because you’re not going to change their mind.  Some of them will babble all night, but if you (at least pretend to) listen to them, they’ll consider you a good person and help you down the road (they just want to be heard and agreed with, it’s kinda become their life).

So even if you can’t stand someone involved in your show, it makes sense to still be cordial to them.  One week I couldn’t stand the headliner so much that I paid for a hotel instead of using the free condo.  I lied and told him I was staying with a friend who had a really nice house to avoid conflict.  And yes, I’m well aware there are a handful of comics who don’t like me, but hey, I can be pretty helpful too, so fake it.

For other tips on how to make money in the comedey business order a copy of my book Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage. . .The stand-up Guide to Comedy.

About Rob Durham

With an English Degree, three years as a doorman at the Columbus Funnybone, over a decade of stand-up experience, and a recent certification in teaching high school English class, writing a book seemed like the next inevitable step for Rob Durham. The son of a coach, Rob has an excellent ability to teach and explain things in the easiest and most direct way possible. His (often labeled ridiculous) memory allows him to think of every possible situation that a new comic might face because at one point he was there too. Rob gives an inside look at comedy that doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges every performer faces. Without ego and the myth that “anyone can do it” Rob gives the reader a true feel of what living the so-called dream feels like, from preparing for that first open mic night to touring the country. View all posts by Rob Durham

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