Caught Greg Giraldo doing a show in the LES the other week and he mentioned onstage that he's getting divorced. Got me thinking about the failure rate of comedians in relationships. (And also how few comics I know are even able to get in a relationship at all.)
A big part of the problem has gotta be the whole time factor of doing standup. For pros, being on the road a lot has gotta be tough. I've heard in interviews people like PFT and Birbigs talk about how they like their current NYC "residencies" (at Best Week Ever and Sleepwalk With Me respectively) because it lets them spend less time on the road and gives 'em more QT with the fiancé/wife. My recollection is hazy, but I think Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan have also discussed how they try to not be on the road for too long because it takes them away from the family.
Even if you're not at that level, it's still hard. You're out every/most nights of the week at bars and getting home late. That's not the healthiest foundation. Clearly you need someone who really supports you in what you're trying to do and understands the game and how it works. You could bring your signif other to shows, but how much comedy can you subject someone to before it turns into a punishment? (Then again, someone who never goes to see you perform seems like a problem too.) Bringing someone to an open mic is just plain cruel — unless you've got some sort of S&M thing going on and the whip ain't cutting it anymore.
For a certain type of comic, you also have to add on the whole telling the truth thing. (I don't think this applies to a comic who does clever one-liners or observational stuff.) People who really open up onstage might not be able to turn that off in their personal life. I'd imagine that'd be a pretty tiresome quality in some ways.
And even if it's just onstage that they're brutally honest or say unpleasant things, that's still gotta be a tough thing for a spouse/gf/bf to handle. I'm thinking about bits I've heard done by certain guys who fit this description. Giraldo talked about doing blow with a hooker and how awful marriage is. Daniel Tosh talked about getting a stripper in Kansas City pregnant. CK talked about how terrible it was to listen to his wife (at the time) tell stories and how, without her, he'd wind up living alone under a bridge like a troll...and how nice that would be. Chris Rock talked about getting caught cheating and how new pussy "always clears your mind." Howard Stern...well, what hasn't Howard talked about on air?
I know, I know...they're joking. These are jokes. And the stage should be the one place where you don't have to answer to anyone else. And a signif other should understand that a comic who wants to be personal but edits him/herself on sensitive topics is hamstrung. You might understand that, but still...
Imagine being married to one of those guys. How would it feel listening to those bits? Having your friends hear your husband tell those jokes? Would any of those guys be fine with it if the person they loved got up on a stage and discussed stuff like that in public? Is that just something you've gotta accept when you decide to be with that type of person?
And then you have someone like Dave Chappelle who's totally open about everything but almost never mentions his wife or being married on his albums/specials. Maybe that's an even weirder thing...to not be mentioned at all.
I got no answers here. Just thinking.
Anyway, I guess a comic could always try dating another comic instead of a civilian. But Jesus, who the fuck wants to date a comedian? I guess that's the problem right there.
Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dating a comedian must suck
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It's even worse when you're a comedian dating a comedian. You think it would be very easy because you guys both get it. But, you are constantly experiencing similar things and it's very hard to say to your girlfriend, "Well, I'm a real comedian."
Also can't help that a large percentage of comics are male. Most people date people they know from work or through friends, but if your work is comedy and your friends are comics, well, there's a very good chance you know a lot more guys then you do girls.
What if you don't find your partner that funny? Comedians tie up so much of their self worth in how funny they are, so that puts a lot of pressure on a gf/bf to love every terrible joke you put out.
comic should date other comics .
then the virus can be contained .I'm amazed any civilian would want to marry a comic ...the constant self obssesion and neurotic worrying it must be very dull .
I say this as a comic married to another comic
First, Matt, you think that opening up and telling the truth would be tiresome qualities?
Also, the divorce rate among the entire population of this country is above 50% (and on top of that, an even higher percentage of relationships in general fail, almost every one that a person has until they maybe find one that lasts), so it's not just comics that have trouble making relationships work, it's Americans, or humans. (And mostly ones who are not as good at communicating, I'd say, you know, opening up and telling the truth?)
The fact is that making a marriage or relationship work forever is something that takes a shitload of work for ANYONE.
As far as comics saying unpleasant things onstage, or revealing truths that a partner might not want revealed--that's definitely relevant, but also a good way to weed out people that you don't belong with. Comics don't necessarily need to be with other comics, but I'd say it's ideal to be with someone who appreciates and understands your work (not only the fact that you do it and love it, but also the actual things that you do and say on stage, and the person that you are in general).
Being with someone whose sense of humor doesn't jive with your own just doesn't really make any sense. Of humor.
Especially in the life of someone who obviously values humor a great deal.
Relationships are hard to make last, and I'll give you that the time commitments and scheduling of a comic or aspiring comic at any level are the biggest obstacle, I'd say. Especially in the beginning--you might be working a 9 to 5 AND going out every night? Or trying to date someone who works when you sleep and vice versa. (And I'd say in the first couple years of comedy, when putting in time is the most important to get yourself established, maybe that's not the ideal time to also put effort into having the most serious of relationships.)
But ultimatley, there are loads of people who don't have conventional schedules (or maybe just don't want to spend every minute with you anyway), people who do like jokes, people who can like YOU.
Unless you're a horrible, unlikable lump. And then THAT's your problem, not the fact that you're a comedian.
PS Was this comment long enough?
There, now it's longer.
I am INSANELY fortunate to have a supportive civilian girlfriend.
Another alternative I would suggest for single ctand-ups: date someone from sketch or improv. Last time I checked Mike Dobbins is dating an improv lady and they seem happy.
Stand-ups and improv people inherit different worlds that occasionally overlap.
all this " telling the truth on stage is great " business makes me a bit queasy .
A year ago a friend of mine had her horrendous divorce to a comic as the centre piece of his hour long Edinburgh show .
Having the intimate details of a short nightmare marriage to a self obssessed alcholic jerk suddenly be transformed into " hilarious anecdotes " with her in the role as the controlling bitch was unspeakably painful .
When telling the so called truth ask yourself " is it your story to tell ?"
Luckily on April 25th, I will no longer be dating a comic... she will be my wife.
I went on two dates with a comedian. the second date he took me to one of his shows. Needless to say that was our last date. This is what went down
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