The parking lot was empty and covered in a thin layer of snow as I walked across it to my office. I stepped onto what I thought was an empty parking space but, the ice giving out beneath me, leaving me falling into nothingness, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. I’d forgotten that the parking lot was riddled with large openings exposing deep shafts underground. This particular opening had iced over somehow, but it held my weight as well as rice paper. Plunging into the inky darkness I thought, this is how I die, and the only reason I’m here at all is because I finally got a new job.

I woke with a start to find my wife sleeping peacefully at my side and my cat curled against my calf. All was well. This doesn’t have anything to do with anything, I just thought I’d give an example of how working late nights is fucking with my emotional well-being. Sigh. This blog is becoming a collection of non sequiturs. Maybe I should change the name from “Don’t Shit Where You Eat” to “But I Digress.” But I digress.

Watching the show at Maffia Comedy last Saturday night, the comic got a huge laugh, followed by an applause break. My kid turned to me and said, “Wow, this crowd is generous.” I laughed, because I’d thought the same. I was also filled with pride that she could tell the difference between generous and earned reactions.

Which is not to say that the comic didn’t’ deserve a strong reaction or that they weren’t funny. Quite the opposite. Thing is, some nights – and this is true at all clubs, not just Maffia – you have to be at peak performance levels just to get chuckles out of a crowd. Other times, you can lift your arm like Data and have the crowd roaring. (That was a deep cut to any Star Trek TNG fans out there.)

The week prior, the crowd was drunk and grumpy. I blamed the weather. This week, the crowd was visibly happier and not quite as thirsty, though the weather had not improved. But they had been paid.

There’s some variation and I don’t have exact figures to back this up, but most people get paid once a month in Sweden. And they all have the same pay day. Which means, the week before pay day, everyone is three weeks away from the last time they got money. No wonder they were drunk and grumpy two weeks ago. This night, they were flush with cash and probably hadn’t paid any bills yet.

It’s often argued that a crowd that has paid for a show is better than a crowd that got in for free but, as I’ve said before, if that was true, corporate gigs would be amazing rather than nightmares. The theory is that, if people have paid for the show, they’ll be more invested in it. In my experience, though, people are just as likely to feel entitled to heckle or get up for drinks a dozen times in the first hour. Hey, they paid for it, they can do whatever they want.

We can argue that topic forever. What’s not up for debate is that a paid crowd is much better than a non-paid crowd. Crap. Having said that, I realize I have nothing more to say on the topic, and paragraphs should be at least three sentences long. Really wrote myself into a corner there.