On several occasions in my 20+ years of comedy,
I’ve been performing at an event in which the food was an issue! As in the people who paid for dinner, didn’t get it. Once I actally went in for the sound check a couple hours early. It was just me and the hotel staff and I asked where the banquet head table would be. The staff replied “no food tonight.” I said, “oh, I’m pretty sure there’s food. I’m speaking AFTER DINNER.” The staff came back with “no, no food being served.” After a few more minutes of this, I decided I should tell the client – I hesitated because she was pregnant at the time and I didn’t want her to deliver! But tell her I did, and we got food that night – I think it was spaghetti. . . but it was food.
That was a situation in which
we had some control or at least time to get the spaghetti in the pot. But there have been other times when the food ran out before I went on stage. Now the client obviously knows about this. . . the only question for me is – what do I do? Or as Hamlet would say — To Joke or not to Joke – that is the question.
Sure covering with comedy can
help the situation. . .but it can also hurt the situation if you’re not careful. Case in point, I once performed for 4400 people in which they ran out of dinners for 1500 people. It was plated (not a buffet) so basically someone miscounted by 1500. Math isn’t a strong suit for many people, but come on. . .that was bad. As a comedian, I wanted to get on stage, look behind the curtain behind me and say “hey, look, I found them!” I KNEW it would get a big laugh. . . BUT I also knew that several people had stormed out because they were so mad – this was the organization’s “employee appreciation dinner” AND the client was backstage crying AND there was nothing she could do about it – it was a catered event. Knowing these 3 things, made me skip my comedic instincts to joke around. . .and instead, just do my act without saying anything. One of my rules for using humor is to not use it if people are hostile – and some of the people in this group were hostile. As it turned out, that was a good choice.
At another event, several years ago,
I was performing at the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas, when, you guessed it, they ran out of meals. This time though, there was a cook on-site who was able to whip up something else, no one was crying, and everyone got fed. . .albeit a little later than they wanted. BUT I had a great opportunity for humor as I realized we were at the Flamingo hotel. . . “for those of you who got the dinners late, we’re sorry we ran out, but the cook was able to cook something up. Of course I noticed that the pond outside is missing some Flamingos.” It got a big laugh and acknowledged what people were going through. That was an appropriate time to joke.
Covering with comedy
CAN help the situation, but it can also make the situation worse if you don’t understand the whole situation. Get your facts right and make an informed decision before you use comedy to cover up a snafu.