I went to a small high school and wasn’t very popular with
the ladies- surprise surprise- although they would talk to me, usually about
their boyfriends. One girl, though,
would never say a word to me, and she was a mystery to me. It wasn’t until years after graduation that
someone finally told me the reason- back in 7th grade, I wrote the
following in her yearbook:

Roses are red,

Violets get plucked,

Over the summer I hope you get…

You can figure out the rest

Mind you, we were both thirteen at the time and also not
friends. I was told that she scratched
it out so violently that it tore the book.
A year or two after graduation, she came out of the closet, but that
probably has nothing to do with me being a creep.

The name of my blog- Don’t Shit Where You Eat- is a dig on
myself. First, because my intent was to
write openly and honestly about my experiences in the standup world. Second, because my mouth has always got me
into trouble. I don’t make an effort to
be rude, I just don’t hesitate to say something that might be offensive or
self-destructive. Call it chronic
foot-in-mouth disease.

You might think that all comics have a wonderful sense of
humor and thick skins. I know I think
this, despite the fact that you and I should both know better. Comics are people too, dealing with all the
same insecurities as everyone else, and are even, arguably, more sensitive than
the average person. It’s very easy to
offend a comic and I’ve managed several times.
Recently, I put my foot in my mouth twice with two different people
within a few days of each other.

I was at the Lund Comedy Festival for the very first time
last month and had a great time. It was
packed with comics, from rookies to Big Names.
(I fall somewhere in the middle, leaning toward rookie, of course.) I’ve met quite a few of those Big Names over
the years, even gigging with them, but generally they were all too busy doing
Big Name things to bother saying hello to me, unless I said hello to them

The festival had a mingle each night and the first one I
went to, a Big Name sought me out to say hello.
This is someone I’ve met only once, long before when we had a gig
together, and he gigged with my wife just once, yet still remembered us
both. He always struck me as a nice,
friendly guy, so I was a bit surprised when, just before the festival, a joke
of his had caused a bit of controversy and bad feelings, even from other

He came over to my table, big smile on his face, hand out,
said hello and didn’t call me Brian, all of which made me happy. I shook his hand, glad to see him, smiled and
said hello back. Then I immediately made
a joke at his expense about his current situation. Someone else might have hesitated, thought,
“Hmm, we aren’t good friends, it might not be appropriate to give him shit,” or
at least, “Maybe I shouldn’t say this, he might not know it’s just a joke.” Not this guy, I just go all-in and reflect

Not that I had long to wait for reflection. The second the joke was out of my mouth I saw
his smile fade, saw how he pulled back, saw him go get some food and not come
back. I knew right away I’d probably
made a mistake, wondered if I should seek him out and apologize, but I wasn’t
sure if I was just reading too much into it.
Also, I was fairly drunk and comfortable in my seat.

It stuck with me though and I didn’t see him again at the
festival, but on the train home I decided to send him a message, said he might
not have given it a second thought, but I thought it was a shitty move on my
part. I’m glad I did, because he
responded right away, said the joke had made him very uncomfortable. Not the joke itself- I’m not that clever- but
since there are some in the community that are bashing him, I made him wonder
if my whole table was among them. I
hadn’t even considered that, but at least that was easily resolved.

A few days later, I thought I’d give insulting a comedy club
a try. What could possibly go wrong? Again, it was only meant in jest. There’s a club in town that has been showing
a ton of initiative lately, with theme nights and special shows, amongst other
things, to bring business and grow their brand.
I have a lot of respect for that, it’s nice to see people with ambition,
trying to do more than just, “Come to our basement for a few hours and hear
dick jokes.”

On the other hand, a result of this drive is that they’ve
become a bit, well, spammy on social media.
And that’s fine, except they’re posting in a certain comics’ community
forum almost daily as well. The guy who runs that forum is usually pretty
strict with club owners, holding us to one post per club per season, but for
some reason he hasn’t cracked down on this particular club. (Actually, I have a pretty solid guess what
that reason is.)

Anyway, figuring I wasn’t the only comic to notice this, I
made a goofy little joke on that forum at their expense. I wondered as I typed it, “Am I blacklisting
myself from this club?” which wasn’t at all my plan. Nah, they’ll know it was just a joke and
won’t be offended at all!

Of course they were offended. They don’t know me very well and couldn’t be
sure of my intentions, so I received a polite yet pointed message asking me to
explain myself. I responded that, yes,
it was just a joke, no insult intended, and while I had been concerned that it
might be misunderstood, I hoped everyone in the comedy business has a good
sense of humor. Crisis averted.

It was fun to see which comics would hit the Like button and
potentially blacklist themselves along with me.
One comic hit the Like button and then hit it again to take his name off
that list; a week later he promoted his show at that club. Don’t Shit Where You Eat, indeed.