Last Friday I was physically assaulted while performing.
Not at a dive bar or open mic, but a company holiday party, where I was hired to entertain employees, their spouses, and children (it wasn’t a kid who attacked me, though I would be equally as traumatized).
My comedy set… imagine a holiday-themed crucifixion with an open bar and buffet. Half the room is trashed, in loud conversations, completely disregarding the show. Some are laughing and trying to listen, while some are YELLING mean things: “You’re not funny”, “bring back the DJ”, “F#@k you”, and even a bad racial joke about me being Indian (which is ironic because I have the same joke).
After 45 minutes of trying to follow comedy’s golden rule (“just have fun”), an employee rushes the stage mid-joke, grabs the mic, and asks the DJ to play me off. Mind you, this employee did not book me, nor has any designated authority over the night’s entertainment. I’m contractually obligated to do a full 60 minutes in order to get paid, so I get the mic back from the DJ, hop off stage and tell the crowd I’m not leaving, also asking if they like crowd work.
The same employee, who’s bigger than me by about an inch and 70 pounds, and drunker than me by at least 0.08% BAC, runs up and tries to grab the mic from me like we’re playing rugby. Upset that I’m not letting go, he shoves me, ready to fight. Keep in mind, all I’m doing at this point is standing up while trying to hold the mic to my mouth so I can get a joke in (stand up comedy). The guy flinches his right arm, signaling he’s ready to punch me in the face, but then lunges toward my crotch, grabs me by the legs, picks me up, and twirls me around like a slower, drunker version of the opening of Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
The least fresh part about this is that both the CEO and HR are standing in the room, watching and doing NOTHING. I even hear a few laughs. A three year old watches like it’s part of the act: a caveman performs his one MMA move on a punny millennial in a $60 H&M suit. I’m in the air for nearly 30 seconds, asking him to put me down. Not a single kick to his face, not an attempt at a joke by pointing to his head while thrusting my pelvis (which I regret). And I know, on my life, that if I try to fight back, this guy is going to break something. Also, I don’t fight, I do yoga. Finally the DJ runs up and gets him to put me down, and I do 15 more minutes for the ten people who want it.
Other than that, comedy is going well.
Now if you were in my shoes, would you report it? The company isn’t doing anything, so I’d have to call the local police. Part of me doesn’t want to snitch on a guy who can’t handle alcohol and doesn’t know how to be a hero. And I’ve had worse sets (this was only lower 10th percentile). But part of me wants this guy to never EVER EVER mess with a comedian again. Anyone for that matter, but mostly a comedian.
I’m not looking for sympathy or praise, I’m looking for legal and practical advice. We, comedians, can’t continue to let people treat us like this.
Regarding the guy who attacked me, I’ve never been a snitch, and I won’t name names, but his name is Alfredo.
God, that felt good.
I won’t name the company out of respect for the people who booked me and the employees who patiently watched and laughed. It just hurts, because the company makes bicycles, and I own one of their products. But I don’t tolerate violence against comedians, and so with this, I’m putting an end to the vicious cycle 😉