Many moons ago I was courting a lady friend.  She had attended the same college I did, hung out in some of the same circles as myself, but we didn’t start “hanging out” until after graduating and out in the “real world”.  We met up in the Fall of 1996 during Homecoming at a mutual friend’s cabin he was renting for like 20+ people.  Hindsight, it was probably only like 3-4 bedrooms, but comfort isn’t a huge priority when you’re still young, and sleeping on a floor next to a keg just “happens”. ????

We started dating soon after that Homecoming weekend.  Our first date was to a Charlotte Hornets game.  I had already entered the Comedy business at that time and was scouting talent and seeing shows every week somewhere trying to familiarize myself with as much live stand-up comedy as possible.  I had a home-work assignment from my boss to drive to Rock Hill, SC just south of Charlotte, NC to go watch 2 comedians performing at a show the agency had booked, to meet with the new client who owned the bar, and to ultimately hand paychecks to the talent performing.

I decided to ask the girl I was “hanging out” with if she wanted to go see a comedy show with me.  This would have been our 3rd or 4th date and she must have been digging me since she decided to make the trek down to SC on a “school night” to join me.  She was an elementary school teacher, and this show didn’t even start until 9pm.

This was in the mid-90s when BET’s “Comic View” and HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” were huge hits and boosted the urban comedy market with shows all around the country.  This was one of those shows.  Funny is funny in my mind, plain and simple and we were going to the show to be entertained.  I told the bar owner who I was upon entering the club, and we slipped in the back of the room without meeting the comedians.  I cannot remember the opening act’s name to this day, but he was funny, interacted with the crowd well and all were entertained.  Next was the headliner.  I DO REMEMBER HIS NAME.  I’ll never forget it, however for this post, let’s change his name to “Poo-Poo Frown”.

“Poo-Poo” started his “act” with some of the most rude, vile and disgusting “jokes” and after discovering me and my date were the only white patrons at the show, WE became the butt of every “joke” following.  Yes, comedy is subjective, and “dirty” comedy is a thing.  He just wasn’t funny, many people just got up and left, and honestly, I was embarrassed for my date and wondered if this would be our last.  After the show, I went up to the fella and handed him his check and told him that I was with the agency that hired him, and if I had my way about it, that would be the last time I’d ever be giving him a paycheck for his “jokes”.  It wasn’t a pleasant meeting and he was not very professional with me even then.  20+ years later, I still think about “Poo-Poo Frown” periodically and try to tell this story to comedians as a reminder that you never know who’s in the crowd that can potentially help or hurt your career.  I’ve never booked that fella since, however that girl married me.  All these years later, she’s still not really a live stand-up comedy fan, first impressions are lasting ones especially in comedy.  Haha.  True Story.

Chuck Johnson
President, Summit Comedy
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