Stand Up Comedians all around the world
matter guys. Here’s the set up.
am a comedian based in Singapore and I write this post with grave concern and
as a warning to all with regards to a negative experience with a specific
comedy club in the city of Mumbai.
the month of April 2014, I was hired, along with two other comedians from Hong
Kong and The Netherlands, as part of an all-female comedy troupe, to perform at
this club. ‘Hired’ might be the incorrect term, as you will learn later in the
booked our flights. (Visa fees were paid by the performers, with a promise of
it being reimbursed.)
Fees for the performances were agreed to be confirmed after
the show, based on door sales. Upon completion of the show, an invoice was sent
to me with the amount due.
It’s been 6 months since the performance ended, and despite
several emails, attempts at phone calls and requests to sort out the payment,
nothing has been done. The employee who was dealing with me has also left the
job and now there is no correspondence from the club.
Wait, that’s incorrect of me to say. There was one email
from someone saying:
“We will look into it.”
They must be looking in the Bermuda Triangle, for they seem
I thought I was alone, but apparently, several other
comedians have performed at this club and have not been paid.
My aim of sharing this letter with the comedy community is
to let you all know that this club, claiming to be the ‘only full time comedy
club in Mumbai’, has allegedly done this with several comedians and we were
just their latest victims.
As the one dealing with the club, my international
colleagues asked me, “What’s going on with the payment from 6 months ago?”
I just shrug my shoulders, and have no answer.
It’s upsetting because they had heard stories of
unprofessionalism, conning and cheating that happens in India, and this was
raised as a concern as to whether we should do the show or not. I assured them
that we are dealing with a professional team and India has progressed leaps and bounds in terms of professional working ethics, but, alas, I have been proven
My advice to any comedian who is being offered a show at
this full time comedy club : do the gigs, only if you are treating it as an
open mic show. DO NOT EXPECT TO GET PAID, regardless of what you are told or
promised. If you are making the trip down to the city and the club, insist on
cash payment BEFORE you go on stage. Otherwise, refuse to do the show.
Alternatively, avoid the club completely. There are many
comedians in Mumbai who have the integrity, class and talent to put on a solid
show, so if you like, I am happy to share those contacts with you.
The venue, staff and set up will make it tempting for you to
do a show for nothing, because it’s a fab room with a great crew. So if you’re
going in with that mindset, fair enough.
However, if you are someone who wants comedy to flourish,
and be a viable career option in your country, I propose you choose to work with someone who has a similar goal.
The audience in Mumbai is top notch and a joy to perform to,
so don’t let your first show in the beautiful city with beautiful people be
mired by an ugly experience.
To all comedians out there: you are a ‘stand up’ comedian,
not a “get walked all over and exploited’ comedian.