Working Comic: Three Comedians Walk into a Racetrack. -by Shawn Carter.

As we stood there in the announcers booth at the Speedway, holding microphones that would carry our words to the ears of the 5,000 racing fans in attendance, I thought “What the fuck do I say to these people?  I don’t know anything about this event.  Maybe I should start talking anyway.”.  Just as I finished that thought I heard Mike say “Come on let’s get the wave going.”  there were some small children that started trying to do the wave but most everyone ignored his request.  “Ok.  I guess you don’t want to do the wave.” the dejected announcer observed.  Then Steve chimed in “I bet if we get a Republican President next year you’ll all be doing the wave.”.  I turned around and saw the woman that was working in the booth with us giving Steve the nastiest look and telling him not to do that.  A warning that Steve wasn’t even aware of since he was facing the other direction and couldn’t even hear her VERY heavy sigh of disapproval because of the headphones he was wearing.  That happened about half-way through the day that I spent working as a Racetrack announcer with two other comedians.

I really wasn’t looking to write about hell gigs two weeks in a row but if it eventually ends it’s only purgatory right?  So I guess I’m writing about purgatory gigs.  And this last one was a lengthy stay in the state.  I suppose the lord felt I needed to be surrounded by good christians to assist with my cleansing process because this gig was at an AutoRacing event and it lasted hours.  Two and a half hours in fact.  Then we got fired.  This was first time in my life that I’ve felt relieved by having my employment terminated.

How did we all get here in the first place?  Well, Mike booked the gig off of an entertainment booking website and he asked me and Steve to do the gig with him.  All the information I had was second hand at best.  When I arrived I was surprised to see that they already had one announcer and that they weren’t planning on showing us how to do the job at all.  “Just comment on the cars and be funny.”  we were told.  “And in between events do some of the material you’ve prepared.”.   We commented on the cars, we bantered in between events, we tried to keep talking about cars even though none of us had any real opinions on the cars.  AND HOW COULD YOU?  At one point they announced the “Powder Puff” race which is where all the women race and Mike made a comment about how “There won’t be any backseat drivers.”  More dirty looks came rolling in.  “No, they are better drivers that’s why their insurance costs about half as much.” he continued.  Somehow, Mike’s fascination with actuarial science wasn’t shared by the crowd.

The day persisted with no end in sight.  Cars with confederate flags painted on them, Steve will make fun of that.  Guy walking around without a shirt Mike will make fun of that.  I was admittedly a bit hesitant to make the same jokes but I was still holding out hope that we would get a paycheck.  After two and a half hours a man I hadn’t met before came into the booth and tapped me on the shoulder, “Are you Mike?”  he asked, “No” I replied and pointed to my left.  Then the man tapped Mike on the shoulder and told him to follow him out of the booth.  While responding to the question I had lost track of the race because the leaders were lapping the slowest cars and it was a very confusing scene.  The real announcer had not even been watching the race and asked me who was in the lead, I told him I didn’t know.  Moments later the race had ended just as Mike came into the booth and told me to “put down the mic, we’re getting the FUCK outta here.”.  I asked Mike “What happened?”  but of course I knew what happened and meant “what specifically did the guy say to you?”  and he told me “don’t worry about it let’s just get the fuck out of here”.  I agreed to GTFO and as Mike gave the news to Steve the REAL announcer called the winner of the race, but he got it wrong, all of the action in the booth had messed him up to the point where he announced the wrong car as the winner.  So as Mike, Steve and I exited the booth people in the crowd yelled up towards it with anger.  “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT NUMBER 5 CLEARLY WON!”  one man screamed at the announcer.

Once we had exited the booth Mike told us to wait so that he could go get us the check.  As he walked away I estimated his odds of getting us paid for our two and a half hours of ruining everything.  I figured there was a 20% chance he manages to get us full payment, a 20% chance that the managers refuse to pay anything, a 50% chance that they pay something less than what they offered for the gig and a 10% chance that he gets punched in the face.  Much to my surprise Mike walked out of the booth with a check for the full amount and as the three of us walked through the crowd and towards the exit we all took an oath to never do this again.

Well, that’s it this week.  Thanks for reading.

I’ll be hosting the comedy shows once again this week AND every week at Sally O’Briens in Somerville (7:30) and Stadium in Quincy (8pm).

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