I checked my email on the elliptical trainer yesterday. I know I shouldn’t. My gym has “Cell Free Zone” signs everywhere. But the “important” people at my gym take actual phone calls. All I do is check in on Foursquare or whatever, so I feel like my rule breaking is more forgivable. Had my heart rate not been so high, I probably would have just shrugged this day off.
I got an email from my agent. She informed me I’ve been pulled from my upcoming shows in Niagara Falls. They don’t want me to perform there, due to an “incident” that happened last time I was there. Being the chronically “Look on the bright side” kind of person I am, I immediately thought of the positive notes of this information. “It’s an hour an a half drive and there’s always so much construction on the QEW during the summer, plus cottage traffic… no hotel… maybe it would be more peaceful to forgo the $500 I would make that weekend, and just relax.” Because tragically, I can be that lazy.
But then the raised endorphins of my cardio infused morning started fueling my brain with another train of thought. “Christina. That “incident” wasn’t your fault. Not even close. Why aren’t you standing up for yourself?” So now I have to tell you what happened. (Sorry I took three paragraphs to get to the point. Vocalness makes me nervous.)
I middled the Yuk Yuk’s in Casino Niagara back in September. In case you’re not familiar with comedy lingo, “middling” is going right before the headliner. It’s pretty much the sweet spot. The host warms the crowd up, sometimes there’s a guest spot, then the middle, then the headliner. I love middling. It’s usually pretty stress free. The headliner is the one who has to deal with people paying their checks, and drunk people getting rowdy. But I guess everybody started drinking early on this particular Thursday. (And managed to get let into a casino.)
There was a group of 8-10 guys at a table to my immediate left. As a full-time bartender(re: last blog), I have my Smart Serve, and can definitely verify they were drunk. About five minutes into my act, they started to chant:
“Show us your tits! Show us your tits! Show us your tits!” Under normal circumstances, I would shoot them a sassy line, and tell them to shut up. But this club sends us all memos, telling us NOT to talk to the crowd, or engage the staff in our acts. So basically, I have two choices. Keep going, or show them my tits. I decide to just keep going. A few minutes later, they started chanting again:
“Show us your bush! Show us your bush! Show us your bush!”
It’s an especially frightening request if you’ve already endured my material on abandonment of showers and waxing, which they had. All I could do was sigh…stare out into the blinding lights… and keep going… I actually did my full time, believe it or not.
When I got off stage, the headliner, Darren Frost, was enraged. He had been running around the club during my set, trying to get the staff to quiet down the rowdy table, if not kick them out. They wouldn’t. It would be a little different if I was playing a bar gig. In a bar, that paying customer is probably in the same room as the owner. He doesn’t want to watch his money walk out the door. But surely a casino is making money somewhere under that roof…
At the end of the night, the woman running the show came back into the green room. I’m absolutely the worst person when it comes to confrontation. I knew I had to say something to her, but I didn’t know how. I got a little choked up. I finally managed this:
“Hey, next time some audience members shout “Show us your tits! Show us your bush!” You might want to tell them to be quiet.”
Then I burst out crying. Oh for fucks. I can’t believe I’m confessing to crying on the internet. I never cry. At least I didn’t cry on stage, right? I’m professional enough. My tears seemed to shock her.
“Oh! Sorry! We thought you liked it.”
Do I need to tell you guys I didn’t like it? Probably not. I endured it, but I didn’t like it. Still, I like to keep my relations with comedy clubs drama free. I accepted her apology, then the second she left the green room, I put as many of those little chubby bottles of water the casino gives out in my purse. It was a small revenge, and most certainly passive aggressive, but it felt good. Free bottled water for all disgruntled employees of Casino Niagara! (Oh, and they do make ALL comics sign in, pass over our Driver’s Licenses in exchange for a little badge that tells everyone in the casino we work there. We can probably ride special elevators with that badge too. I’ve never really used it to it’s full potential.)
I went back on Friday and Saturday. I thought about cancelling, but I needed the money. I know I was treated poorly, but at the end of the day, a comic needs money. So what if I got sexually harassed? It’s not as embarrassing as not having rent, right? When I got a gig sheet to return back to the club, I was relieved. I knew that weekend was awkward, but I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it, so I’m glad they didn’t. Or so I thought…
CUT TO: BEGINNING OF THIS BLOG
(Don’t worry. I didn’t actually write this in Final Draft. But I really like that “Cut To” function of the writing program.)
I’m working out, at a low impact cardio level, and receive the news I’ve been banned from the club. I was already feeling a little heated from Hot Topics on “The View,” and now I suddenly feel like I’ve become one. Gross. I hate being the centre of attention. Correction: I hate being the centre of negative attention, like this. I’m fine if you want to come up to me and say, “Hey… Nice earrings,” or “Cool purse.” (I’ve got a pretty dope purse right now.) I DON’T, however, feel comfortable being in the middle of a SERIOUS issue, so forgive me if I seem unprofessional. I debated saying anything publicly. I emailed back my agents and just said,
“Oh well. I guess that’s what I get for standing up for myself…” (Then moved on to that hip abductor machine that makes you feel like you’re at the gynocologist’s office.) I contemplated not saying anything about this event. I know you can’t tell by my writing, but I’m pretty good at keeping my mouth shut. But then I messaged the other comic who was on the show, trying to figure out if this is the first time in my life I should finally stand up for myself, and he said, “YES!”
Many awesome comics have been banned from this club. When I posted about this on my FB wall, I made sure this wasn’t about Yuk Yuk’s(it was the Casino staff, NOT my agents that offended me. Love you, Jess!) The last sentence I wrote was, “Thanks Casino Niagara, for punishing people who don’t enjoy being degraded.” I purposely wrote people because as much as this may seem like a feminist blog, I want to stand up for all comics. Several guy comics, whom I totally respect, have been banned from this club. I’m only the second girl. (The first is one is my hero, Heidi Foss. She’s seriously so facking funny. I’ve always looked up to her. She’s also one of the most harmless people I’ve ever met.)
I called in sick at my bar job last night,, which I’ve never done in the five years I’ve worked there. It’s not easy to call in sick with “Facebook Drama,” but I did it. (Most people at my work call in sick after a night out drinking, so I didn’t feel too bad.) Everybody’s been so kind, standing up for me, and I appreciate that. Even Jeff Silverman, my boss at Yuk Yuk’s said, “They’re going to have to go through me if they want to cancel your bookings.” While I’m flattered by his actions, I don’t want to go back there now anyway. The fact is, they want to treat a comedian like an “employee” of their casino, but they won’t protect us like one. I’d be willing to bet all $500 I’m losing by not playing their club, that if a bunch of guys chanted “Show us your bush! Show us your bush!” to a Blackjack dealer, they’d be kicked out. I bet you couldn’t even say that to the lady who sells muffins at the front door. (Her cafe is right before security.)
I’m not a perfect comic. I don’t know if I dealt with the situation in the right way when it happened, and I don’t know if I’m dealing with it right now. I’m just a girl, working two jobs to try to enjoy a life of making people laugh. I don’t want anybody to blame Yuk Yuk’s. They’ve been good to me. They get me a ton of work. I’m a terrible self promoter. If it was up to me to book my own shows, I’d be lucky to get a spot at the Garden Centre across the street. The worst part of speaking out, is I’m scared people are going to look me up on You Tube. I haven’t updated my page in two years. But the fact is, I’m hurt. I lost work as a comedian because I can’t handle an audience chanting “Show us your tits!” Sorry. I’ll try to grow thicker skin.
At the end of the day, we’ll all know this was a big waste of energy… I’m an A cup.