At the end of every Saturday night, whether a club does one, two, or three shows, the staff sits around and talks. Before a showroom is seated and the staff is setting everything up, they talk. During smoke breaks, slow nights, or drinks at a bar after work, the staff talks. Big clubs, small clubs, everyone on a comedy club staff is connected and talks. If they drink after work, they talk even more. The point is, they all share a same set of ears so if you have something negative to say, don’t. Sure, there are a few clubs that have a higher turnover than others, but the ones I work the most have the same staff every time. They become family and when you visit you’re merely like a cousin they see once or twice a year.
Comedy clubs make a majority of their money from the bar. The bartender has to be one of the most trusted employees at the club. Sometimes it can even be the general manager or owner of the club behind the bar working. Where do open mic comics do most of their bitching? (other than Facebook) …With a drink in front of them at the bar. Sometimes they’re not even bitching about the politics of the club. Sometimes its just badmouthing someone else or talking delusional BS. “Yeah, I killed it that set. The new stuff is working.” No, no you didn’t, no it isn’t. Stop talking.
This week’s advice is simply watch what you say and how you carry yourself while at the comedy club. It’s a very small world and famous or not, no one is more than two or three degrees away from the top comics in the business. You might badmouth a headliner who hasn’t worked that club in two years. If he or she comes back, word will still reach him or her. I used to be a young doorman, I knew how to stir shit up and I wasn’t alone. I still remember which comics we liked and hated back in 2001. Bartenders have great memories too. Some of them have unbelievable abilities to rattle off what each headliner likes to drink whenever they’re working that week. And if they can remember drinks, of course they’re going to remember the conversations they’re in or overhear. (It doesn’t help that you talk three times louder after one Bud Light.)
To sum it up, whether you’re talking to the box office, a waitress, a doorman, or even a regular bar fly who seems to be there every week, you may as well be talking face to face with the booker because word always gets back.
To counter all this negativity, there are plenty of things you can do (obviously tipping is one), to make yourself come off more professionally and avoid unnecessary politics. Read about those in my book, Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage.