On The (Comedy)
Published on May 1st, 2015 | by Free Standup NYC
Article by: Gina Savage
What's a typical day in the life a a comedy club manager? Well, first you might ask, how does one become (or end up) a comedy club manager? Do you choose this career or does it choose you?
Personally, I fell in love with comedy in the late 70's. As a child, I stayed up late to watch Saturday Night Live and I was enthralled with of all the Not Ready For Prime Time Players. ALL of them. I was a bit of an actress and with little effort I could easily mimic Gilda Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna. I was asked to do this repeatedly for friends and family.
My interest in comedy (and acting) led me to audition for Performing Arts, HS (some of you call it "Fame" school). I was accepted and later went on to study acting NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
In the 80's, my early comedic influences were Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Andrew Dice Clay (they were the big names at the time). I identified with these comics but it was with Richard Pryor that I not only found the laughter but the soul of comedy. Pryor's ability to craft jokes out of such painful stories--to make them relatable, palpable, funny and entertaining was nothing short of genius to me. Without getting into the specifics of my childhood, I knew stand-up comedy might be an outlet for me to deal with whatever feelings I had. A seed was planted. I took a comedy class at the Improvisation in NY. It was a beginning. I'd frequent comedy clubs. At one point, I saw Chris Rock at Catch A Rising Star. He bombed that night but I LOVED him and I went up to him after his set and told him so (I doubt he remembers it although we've met under different circumstances and at various events in the years since).
In the 90's I got married. My career in comedy & acting stalled. I DJ'd for an alternative college radio station in Florida. A detour.
At one particularly low point, I read an article in PEOPLE magazine about comedian Brett Butler and her struggle with alcohol, her failed marriage BUT her then booming comedy career. After reading that article, I knew my days in Florida were numbered. I got sober and moved back to NY. That was over 19 years ago. I'm still sober.
In a twist of fate, the divine or the damned, I had a friend working at Carolines who got me a job there. I was there nearly 3 years and under Caroline Hirsch and Louis Faranda, I received quite an education in the comedy business. Later, I worked for Barry Katz's Boston Comedy Club (booking and managing), Comix (talent coordinator) and several spots in between. Comedians are my people. I get them. There's nothing more exciting to me then when a comic is destroying onstage. I have never lost that feeling. On a side note, the hazard of loving comedians...is loving comedians (but that is another story!)
Now, I work for The Broadway Comedy Club and Al Martin. Al is as gritty and real as they come. He's self-made and I respect that immensely and I identify with it too. He has a great eye for comedy. I am home here.
So, a typical day? How about I just keep it in today?
As I write, I can feel the chill of the April air roll down the steps down to the office where I'm sitting. It's delivery day and vendors come in and out. There are conversations with all of them. One guy just came back from Florida and another guy is going to Florida next week (his first trip on a plane). For some reason, everyone wants to take a photo with me. The phone rings... constantly. I field inquiries regarding the use of the club for independently produced shows. I speak to anyone looking for a comic for a show, private event--whatever it may be. There is a rehearsal going on for an upcoming show. I meet with all the players. There are requests for adjustments to the lights, sound, etc.
I return to my desk and I check emails from Al and a multitude of comedians. I double check our schedule (we can have anywhere from 7-9 events here a day). I look at comedian links. I deal with various maintenance & repair issues for the club. I handle some marketing. I send out donation letters for people requesting tickets for their fundraisers. Also, throughout the day there will be a myriad of tourists coming in from the street to ask questions and there will be comics from all walks of life coming in to do our open mics. I will talk to ALL of them. Somewhere in this day, I will also try to promote a show I co-produce with Marla Schultz called Broadly Funny. I will also work on securing guests for a podcast I co-host with comic Ricki Sofer called The Red Light Podcast Redux.
It is non-stop. I haven't eaten anything yet...it's nearly 3pm and I will be here until 11:30pm. I will also read the news...you have to know what's going on. Sometimes it's a blur but I try to do it all to the best of my ability and most times it's on limited sleep.
That's just today.
Did comedy choose me or did I choose comedy? I'd say it's a mutual yet torrid love affair.