Standup Rule No. 8: Don’t Bone the Staff

With my buddy and brand new father, Josh Alton.

Now here is a topic that I know will be controversial. I just think it’s a bad idea to have sex with staff members at comedy clubs.  You might think, hey we’re 2 consenting adults, what’s the harm? I would agree that it doesn’t hurt to go after shows with the staffs and have some drinks. I know that since I have rarely done this, it has hurt my career at some clubs, as you build personal relationships that way.  Here is why I believe that you have to be careful in how far you are going to go in building personal relationships.

Before I get into more detail here, it should be mentioned that if you are headliner who draws a lot of people, you can pretty much behave whatever way you want to, because you are making the club money.  I can think of one hypnotist who the actual manager of club hated so much that he would take his vacation that week, just not to deal with him.  Having said that, the guy still got booked, despite his unprofessional behavior (on almost every level) because the hypnotist sold-out pretty much every show.

So onto why you shouldn’t make the sexy with the comedy club staff.  The biggest reason simply comes down to this. It is a lot harder for a comedy club to find a good waitress than it is a good comic.  You are there one week (maybe 2 weeks) per year as a feature act or headliner.  If things go badly afterwards (and from what I can tell, they usually do) that staff member has at least 50 weeks that year to badmouth your ass.  Who do you think is closer friends to the owner, the loyal employee who is there most nights of the week or you, the person who tells jokes 4-8 shows each year?  It’s just a dangerous bet, considering how hard it is to keep your schedule filled.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

So the story goes that one comic that went home with a staff member. When she wouldn’t seal the deal with him, he started to cry and beg.  Not something you want following you around.

I worked at a club where the big story the staff loved to tell was how one famous comic had slept with a waitress there.  Now he had been a bit of jerk all week, but some people are starfuckers, so one waitress dived in.  She did come back with a story, though, about how he had dick like a thumb.  Every time I see this guy on TV, now, that thought always pops up in my head. Might even be a lie, but it is out there because this waitress worked around comics and was happy to share her discovery.

When I started, one major headliner was such a sexual harasser to the staff that the waitresses with the most seniority would ask off for his week, despite that they would end up making a lot of money in tips because the guy drew sold-out crowds.  When he stopped drawing, as well, he stopped getting booked as often. He’s too old now to act like that, but his reputation has proceeded him, as a lot of clubs don’t book him at all, anymore.

Some clubs I have done in the past even had in their itinerary a note to not sleep with the staff. Now there are a few waitresses at clubs that see as a fringe benefit of working at the club getting to bone the comics.  Hey, this is a lot better in my book than working at a rock club so you can fuck the musicians, since comedians are smarter, carry way less disease, and are way more appreciative since we don’t get many women hitting on us (especially compared to rock stars).  I know that a couple of these waitresses are reading this and thinking, what right do you have to tell me who I should sleep with? I’m not telling you not to do it, I’m just telling comics I think it’s a bad mistake.

Here is the most tragic story I have on the subject. My brother (who passed away a few years back) was a standup comic.  The major advice I had for him when he started was these things.

  • Get onstage as much as possible so you can get better.
  • Sit down a few times a week and write something, even if it isn’t funny, just so you can keep your creative brain working.
  • Become very familiar with a map of the US, so when someone offers you 2 gigs in Texas, you don’t accept and then find out they are 1o hours apart.
  • Buy a used car with a great maintenance history.
  • Whatever you do, don’t fuck the waitresses at a club.

So one day I get a call and my brother says he has a new girlfriend.  I tell him that I’m happy for him, then he says you’re not going to like this part, though.  She is a waitress at a comedy club.  I told him I thought that was a bad move.  He said I know, but I really like her, I think I might even love her.  He then tells me I might know her, since it’s a club that I’ve done before. Then he tells me her my name.

The person he told me was a waitress that had a reputation for sleeping with a lot of comics.  Not good. My brother didn’t know this and I wasn’t about to tell him, since he might love her, but I knew this situation wasn’t going to turn out well.  It didn’t.  My brother ended up getting his heart broken and he also ended up not going back to that club, as it was awkward for everyone involved.

Now I’m sure that some comics are reading this saying, well you have been married most of the time you’ve been doing standup, so it’s easy for you to pontificate on this subject. I’m out here alone and if I want to get a little companionship, I will. 

Please, go ahead.  Play your game of comedy Russian Roulette.  Just takes some competitors off my radar for gigs.

Just so I don’t come off as Mr. No Fun, here are a couple exceptions I can see to my strict guidelines.

Comics do a lot of one-nighters.  I don’t see as many problems with you hooking up with one of these waitresses, since worst-case scenario is you lose one-night of work.  Also, since most of these waitresses will be working until 2 or 3 in the morning, it’s not like they sleep with a lot of comics anyway, so they are less likely to have a big love/hate relationship with comics.

Another exception is a specific situation where I’ve seen it not always work out so badly.  If you sleep with a waitress at your homeclub, you might have a better chance of surviving that breakup, since you will be hanging out there more often and you might have friends who will stick up for you if a waitress starts talking trash about you.  It’s still a dangerous game, since it’s your homeclub, but you are not seen as a complete outsider in this situation, so you have a better chance of surviving this one.

Final Exception. She is so hot that you are willing to lose the gig, if you can make it happen. I think this is pretty rare, as 10’s don’t usually fall for standup comics, as we are not good-looking enough and definitely not financially stable enough to get that type of woman. If you happen to thread that needle, go for it. I mean who am I to tell someone they can’t fulfill a dream?

So that is my thoughts on this subject.  Let me repeat, that I’m not in anyway saying most comedy club waitresses are whores.  My experience is that comics are at a way higher percentage of acting like a whore.  And even if you are a waitress who likes to get it on with comics, I have no beef with you.  You will keep your job and probably entertain the staff with juicy gossip about your exploits, after.  And please, share them with me.  I’m a married guy with hardly any sex life, so I would love to hear them.  This piece is about how I think comics should be really careful about having sex with the staff, since they are a lot more of a disposable thing for the club, versus a comedian.

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