Comedy Gripe of the Week: The Two Deaths of…

I should focus on the good news in comedy and that is the fact that I am co-producing a fun show in Brooklyn, that will be weekly starting in June (“Work In Progress” at Smith’s Tavern in Park Slope).  So far we have had good audience and good comedians.  But I can’t help but be depressed over the two-venue show that I had produced, Always Be Funny, which died twice in unceremonious fashion.

The first venue for Always Be Funny was River Bar in a part of New Jersey known as 10th Avenue and 43rd Street.  I had been hooked up with the place through a friend.  He had a friend who owned a bar and they wanted some comedy to drum up some business (you know a bar is struggling when they WANT comedy to BUILD business.  Adding comedy to a bar is akin to arson for insurance in terms of what it usually does to a bar crowd).  So we started a show, which began very strongly, but ended sort of like that guy in Metallica’s One video who was begging for someone to kill him, but had no means of communicating that desire.  So we turned it into an open mic, which actually was, on average, more successful than the booked shows because all the comedians had to do was buy one drink and they got a free buffet and 5 minutes stage time.

The open mic had reversed what had become a pretty bleak situation.

And then one day I showed up to the bar and was told by the bartender that the show was over.  Fortunately I was given 10 minutes advance warning, which is about the same amount of professional courtesy I’d expect if I were a maid in Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s hotel room.  I heard it through the grapevine that my friend, who I saw less regularly than the bar owner, had had a falling out with the bar owner (no idea if this is true) and that he cancelled my show, which had been running for over a year between the booked show and open mic.  I e-mailed the bar owner, but failed to get a response.  It was like two parents had a fight and then in anger, one parent killed their brother-in-law’s kid.  It may not have been quite that dramatic, but it certainly felt rude and unjustified.  Now the only historical evidence of the show’s existence is this Glengary Glen Ross spoof we filmed to promote it:

And for reference – here is the original:

But just because one show died did not mean I was without a venue (isn’t that why people have more than one kid?).  I still had my monthly show at the Village Lantern.  Well, if the River Bar show was murdered, then the Village Lantern show was kidnapped and presumed dead even though no body was ever recovered.  Allow me to explain.

I never ran the show as a bringer because there was a cover and drink minimum.  If people are going to do that they should save it for a club.  So most of our traffic was derived from friends, Time Out NY or people barked in.  The showed hummed along fairly consistently, ranging from full to half full, but never empty (and not on a downward trend the way the showcase shows at River Bar show had been).  But as time went on I kept getting told that “management really wants it full” and then I had two straight shows cancelled, one a day in advance, the other 6 hours ahead of time.  So I became The Douche That Cried Comedy Show.  It felt like that scene where Woody Harrelson has to make a hook shot in White Men Can’t Jump.  Already a difficult proposition, the guy then tells Woody that he also must shoot at the basket on the other end of the court (a 60 foot hook shot being near impossible).  So I am given a late show, that gets cancelled last minute on me several times and I am still expected to fill the place.   Their house, their rules, but why have it it anyway if you do what you can to make it fail:

If those were the criteria I would be fine with having the show cancelled, but instead what I got was no response from the go-between at the venue.  Perhaps it is because I am a big dude and people assume I will strangle them if I get bad news, but that is not the case.  I remember I asked about an April date and received one response that said he was behind on Facebook e-mails because of travel (I did not mention that travel did not seem to preclude Facebook status updates featuring dick jokes for the bridge and tunnel crowd, but it crossed my mind).  Then I asked a follow up about my show in April or May and received no response (still waiting for that response).  This kind of treatment would be understandable, or even expected, coming from a bar owner, but the person was a comedian that was acting as the go-between.  I guess professional courtesy is harder to find in shi*ty professions.

RIP “Always Be Funny.”  Long Live “Work In Progress!”

Off to Philadelphia for the weekend and the I’ll be posting the Movie of the Week blog Saturday (either Will Ferrel’s new movie because I heard it is good or the new Pirates of the Caribbean because it probably will be terrible) and a recap (hopefully with video) of my Philly shows on Monday.  AND BE SURE TO BECOME A FAN OF “RIGHTEOUS PRICK” ON FACEBOOK