How a few Jersey girls stole $3,200 from Greg Giraldo's audience last night

Went to see Greg Giraldo at Gotham Comedy Club last night. I'm a big fan. (Seeing him do a Monday night spot at UCB's Crash Test years ago when I first moved to NYC was a revelatory moment for me. He was like a whipsmart tornado onstage. One of the things that inspired me to try standup even.) Seen him a couple of times since and enjoyed it, but always shorter spots, never a headlining set.

So I was psyched. But the show was a bummer. The crowd was really disengaged. Giraldo even commented on it about 15 minutes in. "I just don't feel like I'm connecting with you guys and I don't know why." I knew why. Or at least a big part of why. It was two tables of Jerseyites sitting 10 feet away. Specifically, three of the girls there who just kept talking throughout the whole fucking show. Texting and looking at their phones and then showing each other what was on their phones. After 35 minutes they got up as a group and left. Huzzah. But then they returned again...and went on to be even more distracting.

Giraldo certainly wasn't terrible or anything. He plowed through and did a solid set. But eventually he just gave up on it when one of them screamed out "It's Tim's birthday." The silly part: Giraldo was setting up a bit about how stupid it is that people expect singing at restaurants and other special treatment on their birthdays. Giraldo couldn't even believe it and pointed out how people like that are exactly the problem he's talking about.

He then finished the bit and one of the girls yelled out something else. His response: "Fuck it, what did you say? I've already given up. I'm just going to marinade in my failure after this anyway so let's talk about whatever the fuck you want to talk about." And then of course the girls shut up. And so he just shat on them. Erupting in a tirade about what "twats" they were and showering them with expletives in a really cruel but funny way. It was pretty fucking great. The crowd loved it. It felt like the whole show had been building up to that moment of them getting their comeuppance.

After returning to his set, there was one more funny comment about the whole thing. Giraldo finished a joke, took a pause, and sighed. The room was dead silent. He goes, "So NOW you're all going to be fucking quiet!? Now, when I've got nothing to say??? You talked throughout every fucking joke so I cut all my bits in half because I couldn't even focus and NOW you shut the fuck up?" Pretty damn hilarious.

I'm used to dealing with shit like this onstage but it was weird being an audience member and watching it all go down. All I wanted was for someone to shut these girls up. I was praying for Giraldo to notice them and shut them down. Or for a bouncer to go over and ask them to keep it down. I even considered passing them a "please be quiet" note at one point but figured that might just make it worse.

They really destroyed the show. And it wasn't a cheap show either. Between tickets and the two drink min, most people there spent at least $40. And there was like 200 people there. That's $8,000. I'd say we only got 60% of the value of a normal Giraldo show. If you're willing to make the leap (and do the math), these girls destroyed $3,200 worth of show. They stole $3,200 from the other people in that room. Crazy. Something like that would never happen at a play. But I guess the fragility of comedy is also a big part of what makes it so great when it's working.

One other thing too. The featuring comic, Jesse Joyce, had a decent set. He didn't address the crowd at all except for one moment when they yelled something out in the middle of a joke. At least Giraldo could break it down and get real with the audience and call the moment. He admitted that shit was going wrong. A headliner can do that. When you're featuring or MCing, you don't get to take chances as much. Imagine if Joyce had done that and turned the whole room sour. Giraldo would have been pissed as hell, I imagine.

Anyway, strange night. And I don't hold it against Giraldo. Still think he's great. Apparently, he'll be taping a new special in June so that will be good to see. Been too long since his last album. (Makes what those girls did even worse since he's probably working hard on getting material ready for that.) Anyway, he's a guy who should be getting more than he does.


Luke Giordano said...

Good Day to Cross a River is probably my favorite comedy album ever.

Dan Fontaine said...

love giraldo, love jesse. too bad about the girls.

Jamison Yoder - Funny Business Agency said...

That sucks. Greg and Jesse are both great comics. Shit like that always makes me wonder where the staff is on that. The venue is partly to blame for not giving them the boot. Nothing ruins a show faster than letting drunk idiots ramble on for too long.

Matt Ruby said...

The thing was the girls were loud, but not so loud that it was a "where is the staff?" moment. They were just subtly ruining the vibe in the room, but in a way that was tough to notice. Giraldo didn't even pinpoint them as a problem until 2/3 of the way through his set.

I just can't believe anyone needs to look at their phone and show each other stuff on that phone for 30 minutes straight ANYWHERE, much less a comedy show. I don't care if your best friend just had a baby. Do whatever you gotta do and get on with it already.

londoncalling said...

love Giraldo , what a disapointing night for you !
why weren't they chucked out ? where were the bouncers ? why can a table full of drunken bitches destroy everybodies night .

not .

fair .

Abbi Crutchfield said...

"Anyway, he's a guy who should be getting more than he does."

I say Greg Giraldo gets plenty! I'm sure he's living comfortably, has great kids, and is consistently hilarious. What's left to have? A Pixar movie about bees?

Matt Ruby said...

I meant that, far as I know, it's been years since he put out an album or had a cable special. So while someone like Gaffigan is churning stuff out and becoming a household name, I think Giraldo is still kinda under the radar for how good he is. As for living comfortably, well, I'm guessing you haven't heard his act lately. Not exactly the impression he leaves ya with. Of course, that could all just be part of the act.

mike lawrence said...

Bee Movie was Dreamworks. Don't put that on Pixar.

Clubs are very hesitant to throw people out because they are essentially throwing money out. So what if the money was loud and obnoxious? I was at a show in West Palm once and the guy right after me had a shoe thrown at him. No one did a thing.

My mom always tells me this story about how she was doing a show in Daytona and there were these very misogynistic jerks yelling things I'd rather not hear yelled at my mother while she was onstage and she ripped into them and afterward they complained and she was let go from the rest of her weekend bookings.

Matteson said...

The most bizarre element of this story, and others like it, is that these hecklers chose to spend their evening and their money to see Giraldo, and then proceeded to talk the entire time. They made what they wanted to do (talk) harder, they disrespected Giraldo, and they spent a lot of money. Why not just go to a regular bar? It's like hiring a hooker and then going for a jog.

Matt Ruby said...

Matteson, it was a group of at least eight. My guess: The bday boy is a fan (he was enjoying it). The girls came along as friends and prob to warmup for a night out elsewhere.

I think the fact that it was a big group was a problem too. People do stuff in a big group that they would never do if it was just 2-3 of 'em.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

@ mike lawrence: Pixar...Dreamworks...which one of them made The Labyrinth? So lifelike!

@ Matt: I equate being as funny as Greg Giraldo with getting to live comfortably. Please don't burst that bubble.

I also hope every comic who works at it for 20+ years feels like it wasn't thankless. Paul F. Thompkins could tell you something about being under the radar. Paraphrasing him in an interview: after a while you have to stop whining about what's next and start appreciating what you have.

But yes, I always thought churning out albums had to do with the quantity you write. It may also be which network execs are giving you a green light.

soce said...

I've had people talk during my shows, and it's always a frustrating thing that I don't really know how to deal with.

Sometimes almost the entire room is either soce fans or else general music fans, and then like one table is just a random group of people who don't seem to realize that there's a show going on, and that kind of kills it for everyone as they talk, laugh, scream and take flash photos of each other.

I feel like if I ask them to quiet down or leave, then that makes the joy of the show evacuate the room.. it gets uncomfortable for everyone when I point out the elephant. But if I don't say anything, then they keep on gabbing.. sometimes they get angry that I'm making music and try to talk over me, getting louder than normal.

If anyone has good tips to politely get them to behave, then please share.

Matt Ruby said...

soce, i think you have to address 'em somehow if they're ruining the show. i like the advice that PFT gives in this post.

soce said...

That's great advice, man! Thanks!! I suppose practice makes perfect. I've done plenty of shows, but I've only really dealt with hecklers probably 5 times at most, so I'm still figuring that part out-- I will try engaging in a quick, non-threatening conversation to put things back on track.

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