Comedians and writers – and especially writer/comedians – don’t make shit.
If I woke up tomorrow and checked my bank account and it just said:
MARK J. LUCAS
AVAILIABLE BALANCE: SHIT
ACTUAL BALANCE: JACK SHIT
I’d be happy with that. Seinfeld is one of the biggest comedians in the world, and on his show he lived in a one-bedroom apartment next to a nutjob with the set of The Merv Griffin Show in his apartment. And every comedian who watches that thinks “man…looks like moneybags is living high on the hog.”
As such, I’ve had to hold a number of side jobs to make the rent. It’s good to see all the new businesses in Columbus popping up. A lot of them are creative, ethically driven, bold endeavors to make good money doing great things, and with any luck, they’ll all be good to their employees – which is awesome, because there’s a lot of terrible jobs out there, and I’ve had all of them. For example:
The Baby’s Furniture Store
My buddy’s parents had a “whoops” kid when we were in high school. He started working at a baby’s furniture store for the discount and told the rest of us how awesome it was, so we got jobs there, because we didn’t realize he was a goddamn liar. Think customers get upset when the TV or the fridge they want is out of stock? Now imagine all the customers are eight-months pregnant and the vision they’ve had all their life for their nursery is out of stock. It was like working for the bomb squad. I did learn a trick, though. If a customer was upset that we were out of a certain crib, I’d just say:
“Hey, ya know, when I was born, my parents put me in a laundry basket with a pillow on the bottom. And look at me now. I work at this baby’s furniture store.”
Custom Hat Store, Hilliard
I worked at a kiosk that would embroider anything on a hat – and let me tell ya, the demographic for custom hat embroidery in Hilliard is rife with poetic and artistic talent. It’s a wonder some of these folks didn’t go on to take French fashion by storm.
“Yeah, man. Like, a really badass snake with a joint in its mouth that just says ‘Nuggz.’. Think y’all can do that?”
“Unfortunately, we can. Now would you like that in snap-back or fitted?”
Cheese Grinder At A Pizza Shop
Just like it sounds. Grinding provolone for pizzas and subs. You know what really gets you the ladies? Smelling like fermented dairy. That’s why there are so many colognes that smell like Mozzarella and minimum wage.
Bouncer at a Punk Rock Bar, Campus
The deeds speak for themselves. Threw a guy out for punching me. Threw a guy out for trying to throw a stool over the bar. Threw a guy out for hanging onto – and breaking – a sewer pipe that hangs from the ceiling. Threw a girl out for puking on the bar. Threw a band out for throwing beer at the customers. Threw a guy out for grabbing a 17-year-old Lydia Loveless on stage. Threw a frat guy down a hallway for fighting anyone that tried to go into the empty bathroom. Threw out my back carrying the drunk bartender out of the place, and the coup de grace…threw a 40 year-old guy over the fence out back for masturbating on the pool table while he yelled “I NEED TO BE STOPPED!!”
Tree Trimming Company, Citywide
Pro Tip: If you’re terrified of heights, don’t get a job where you have to climb ladders all day. When I wasn’t doing that, I was on the ground having critical instructions yelled down to me by a hillbilly that mumbled in the thickest southern accent I’ve ever heard. “Heyrumbetterlerkout! Branchcumdown!” roughly translates into “Hey, you should keep abreast of the situation up here. I’m about to cut down half this tree from 100 feet in the air and it’s going to land right where you’re standing.” That job was directed by Michael Bay. Also, Fargo would have had nothing on what would have happened to me if I’d fallen while operating the commercial wood chipper.
Nothing inspires troubled youth to enjoy the outdoors like a flinchy hypochondriac who’s terrified of bears and snakes.
The pay sucks. I’ve been heckled by the Midwest’s finest alcoholics. I’ve driven miles in the rain for $20, and I’ve done shows for four other comedians and their girlfriends (which was just five people total; most comedians don’t have girlfiends). Fortunately, my unhealthy obsession with laughter keeps me coming. Now I just have to wait for a shadowy figure in the back of the room to approach me one night after my set and offer me the catch-a-rising-star dream that is definitely extended to everyone.
Or it’ll just be another guy masturbating on a pool table.
In either case, I’ll be ready.
Mark J. Lucas is a Columbus comedian and writer; you can see him at various venues around town or hosting the comedy open mix every Tuesday night at Bossy Grrrl’s Pin Up Joint (2598 N High St.)