So here’s what happened: I arrived at the show and checked in with the doorperson, introduced myself to the host, and found a seat. At some point the other comics tell me that the show runner is looking for me. I saw her talking to a couple of people so I walked up and stood there for about a minute being ignored before I said, “Excuse me, but I think you were looking for me.” She then says, “Yeah. We’re switching you with the sketch group.”
“Well, when were they going?”
“So I’m first then?”
“Yeah,” she says, obviously annoyed at my failure to immediately grasp that fact. Comics never want to hear that they’re going first, but whatever. I go back to my notes and start writing.
Eventually, the lights go down and the host takes the stage. At this point, no one is in their seats, so it’s just a bar with people screaming conversation at each other’s faces. The host announces the show is starting and faces the roiling, cacophony of the bar for about thirty seconds before he bails and introduces me, which is my cue, “please give it up for Miles K.” The twelve or so people in their seats applaud and I walk over but instead of stepping off and handing me the mic the MC starts trashing my appearance, saying that I look like I shop at a homeless Good Will (which is true and therefore an especially cheap shot in a room full of expensively dressed professionals). I’ve already gotten to the stage and am standing there waiting to be handed the microphone, so essentially I’m just stuck being abused until he finally slinks off. If this guy were new to the scene then we could chalk it up to lack of know-how but he’s the producer of Tourettes Without Regrets, a major show in the East Bay, and has been hosting for years, so instead, I can only attribute his behavior to malice and indifference.
I start my act and burn about three minutes of jokes on a completely chaotic room before it eventually coalesces into an audience. People are yelling out, “We can’t hear you,” to which I whisper, “I know.” My set is interrupted twice by an ambulance and twice by the show’s photographer interjecting remarks. Still, by the time I finish the crowd is attentive and actually ready for comedy; I end my last joke and get off the stage, feeling very much like I could suddenly develop a taste for murder.
Comedians will put up with a lot, producers have figured that out, and as a consequence they treat us like shit. After working hard on my act, it’s a detriment to go up in the middle of a circus. It makes a comic look amateurish in front of audience members whose first impression of me might be blogged about in some Oakland culture tumblr. I would rather have not performed under those conditions and simply walked away but I did the set I agreed to do. However, having done that set and fulfilled my obligations I am happy to recommend that other comedians NOT work there until the people who run the show get their fucking shit together.