Are you already cringing?
If you have ever been to New York City, you have probably been to Times Square.
If you have ever visited Times Square, you were likely verbally attacked by someone screaming about a comedy show. They probably had a misleading sign with Chris Rock and Amy Schumer's faces on it.
That person once was me. I was a comedy show barker.
And yes I'm choosing to let The Bachelor's Corinne Olympios express my feelings. I stand by all of my decisions in life, even the regrettable ones.
I barked in Midtown. I barked in the West Village. I barked in Queens. I barked and barked and barked. Mostly, I stood outside a bunch in the cold rain and snow thinking about why the hell anyone would do comedy. I bought thermal pouches and put them in my boots, I made coffee runs for the booker and the other comedians, and I watched successful comedians get paid for doing their sets.
Comedians generally look down on barkers and bringers (which are new comedians who have a lot of friends who are willing to pay money to watch them). Their desperation and total lack of awareness is extremely off putting. Even when I was a barker, I knew how gross I was. I was willing to be pathetic in order to get stage time in front of a real audience - and when you're new to the city that's the best way to get it.
I did indeed make quite a bit of money off of European tourists. One night I made about $150 dollars and got to tell jokes in front of a sold out show. Still, the pleasure of having a good set in front of a crowd and making money doing it felt wrong because deep down I knew the truth: I was a comedy hooker.
I barked for an entire winter in Queens. Every single weekend - Thursday through Saturday. I told people to pay 10 bucks to watch comedians they have seen on (name drop late night show) (name drop network) (name drop something I made up entirely that sounds like something people should know). Come watch amazing performers that you have seen on @fuckthis on The Funny Channel and Butt Munchers on the XYZ network.
Barking humbled me. I watched legends walk past me on their way in to the club. Throughout the night working my comedy hooker corner, I wondered why I humiliated myself just so I could tell half-baked poop jokes. I thought about what comedy meant to me when tourists asked why they should go to the show. They often would ask me if I was funny - sometimes I would answer "Yes!" with too much confidence and other days that question would make me want to quit right then and there.
Selling comedy taught me what makes a show appealing, which helped me learn how to produce a show. I learned what audiences really want. Most audience members are so much smarter than comedians think they are. They barely care about the lineup. Comedy audiences, for the most part, are not like N'Sync/Backstreet Boy fans. People just want to laugh and forget about their problems for an hour or so. Life is mostly garbage and laughing is one of the few things that make it all okay. Making people laugh rewards me with the same kind of thing. I get to forget for 8-10 minutes that I'm incurably lonely and definitely going to die someday (probably not though). When you watch me on stage, just know that it's mostly about me and not you. I'm a really corny girl who cares deep down and I guess I really do want you to enjoy it.