remind me to never be a comedian

Meeting room nine was our room.  It was identical to all of the other meeting rooms in every single way, yes, but it was our favorite.  Every day at around 11:25 I’d walk past Violet’s cubicle with a quick, “9 at 12?” and she’d inattentively nod and go back to typing or stapling, and I’d continue my brisk walk back to my work station.  Why I felt the need to confirm our usual habit was anyone’s guess, my insecurities would be on the top of that guess list though.

Of course it wasn’t just Violet and I.  Ryan and Jennifer were there, too.  I didn’t like them as much as Violet.  Regardless, it was us four in room 9 at 12 noon everyday for lunch for the past four months.  That was how it was, at least, until March 29th.

On March 29th, at 11:57 I sat in room nine with my lunch bag already open, its contents meticulously placed in front of me, my $1.50 bottled mountain dew to my right, my napkin to my left, and my sandwich and bag of pretzels in between.  I was usually the first.  In fact, I tried to be, so I could get in a little extra conversation with the second and third people to enter the room.

Ryan was first.  “Hey, Ryan,” I said.

“Hey, man.” Ryan said. 

I hated how he didn’t say my name.  He knew my name.  I gave him my expense reports all the time and my name was on each of those in three different places.  He definitely knew my name, but he never said it.  When I was in high school, one of my teachers told us that people really appreciate it when you use their name in conversations, and I remember thinking ‘Yes I do like that,’ so it bothered me greatly when Ryan didn’t say my name.

I was waiting to pick up my sandwich until the other two arrived.  It was polite.  In contrast, Ryan plopped down his white syrofoam box of Chinese and began chowing away.  He used chopsticks and I hated him for it.  The bag from the Chinese place came with little plastic white forks and knives.  He was a show-off and always had been.  He only ate with us because he was in Jennifer’s department and they knew each other well.  If it was up to me, he wouldn’t be there.

The entry of Jennifer was a refreshing event.  “Hey Jennifer,” I said.

Jennifer smiled and said hi to me.  She used my name.  Jennifer had a packed lunch, like me, and a really cute laugh.  It was tough to make her laugh, so I tried to prepare a good joke or at least something humorous to say for when I was with her.  We engaged in some light conversation.  

It was 12:04 according to the very plain clock above the door, and I was worried Violet wouldn’t show.  I was running out of conversation with Jennifer and didn’t want Ryan to steal the floor from me. 

I had been preparing this line for a couple days, having thought of it a couple days ago.  So, over the past couple days I had been refining it and practicing it, and I decided that it was the time to use it.  I had prepared this thing for two days, keep in mind.

“You guys ever notice how there’s never any markers on the dry-erase board in here?  How would you even use that thing if you wanted to?”  I said, as best as I could, in a way that a comedian would say it.

My eyes darted to Jennifer’s face.  After gazing over at the board, her face turned towards mine and she laughed!  I was really happy about that.  Ryan laughed too but I didn’t care.

“Where’s Violet?” I said, transitioning, trying to keep up the flow of conversation in the room.  It was 12:05 now.

“Did you remind her?” Jennifer asked me.

“Yes.”

Just then Violet walked into the room with her purple hair on her head (she had purple hair).  Her name was Violet and she had purple hair.  Probably not a coincidence.

“Sorry everyone, I had to print off copies for my meeting later.”

“That’s okay.  No problem,” I said, speaking for everyone in the room. 

“So… what did I miss?” she said, slapping her bag of McDonalds down on the table.  I could only assume there was breakfast food in there.  McDonalds didn’t start serving lunch food until lunch time, and I doubted she had time to make a run there during work hours.  Still, though, she could have done it.  Or it could have been day old lunch food.

“He tried to make a joke about how there’s never any markers by the dry-erase board,” responded Ryan before I had a chance to speak.

“What do you mean tried,” I said, my eyebrows scrunching up in an emotion in between annoyance and anger.  “Both you and Jennifer laughed.”

Ryan chuckled, “We were laughing at you, man.  You talk about the dumbest stuff.” 

Jennifer laughed.  But now I hated her laugh.  Violet had a blank expression, like she probably agreed with him but cared enough about my feelings not to join in.  I couldn’t handle this.  I quickly packed up my lunch, and in my hurry accidentally dropped my opened but untouched bag of pretzels onto the carpet.  I left them there, like I was a common litterer, and ran out of the room.  I didn’t cry, but I really wanted to.  After asking my boss for permission, I went home early and watched TV until dinner time, but I felt too sick to eat anything.

The worst part about the whole thing–the thing that still bugs me to this day–is I never found out if Violet’s McDonalds was lunch or breakfast food.  When I finally mustered up the courage to ask her about it six days later, she claimed she had no idea what I was talking about at all.

Let me tell you something:

When everything else fails you,
when the stars go out,
when you feel hopeless and
your fears tighten around your neck,

let me hold you.

Let me come to where you are
and in an effort to remind you,
whisper I love you thirty-three and a half times.

Just in case you ever forget.

There’s something amazing about your eyes in the dark.
Have I ever told you that?
I don’t know why the universe made me wait so long
to feel them against my skin,
but it’s almost as if your eyes say things in the dark
that rip me open completely,
spilling out secrets and fears.
Somehow this makes me feel beautiful and vulnerable,
so I wear them on my skin like lingerie,
knowing that you will take each and every one of them off
until I am more than just a body,
but a soul with skin.

I used to think love was like driving a car down the highway
with a broken windshield 
while praying for the rain to stop,
until you met me on that dark road
and offered me a ride
and a jacket.

When I say “I never want to be without you”
I mean now and forever.
I mean in this life, your absence drives me crazy.
I pass people on the street who have the same hair color as you,
who wear the same shoes as you,
and drive the same truck as you do
and in every place I’ve ever been your eyes
are yours.

You: my favorite dream, nightlight, comedian, sweetheart.
If there’s another life after this,
I will meet you at the nape of your neck
and remind you again and again
of everything you missed.

—  Meagan Grisham, “I Love You”

I am so in love with you, we can sit and talk till 3am every day for four years and never get bored, we can laugh and joke and fantasise about living next door to each other and how we are going to buy that house with the lake I front on the road near where you live with the really big houses. We can mock what disasters we both are in our own ways, we can be ourselves. When you say you love me you always remind me it’s because of me, all of me, the weird and irrational part of me, the crazy side that only you really see, the comedian, sarcastic bitch, the maternal part of me, you love all of me and every bit of me.

Growing Some Balls

I recently discovered my “other” message box on Facebook. Did you know you have an “other” box? I always assumed I only had one box. I was wrong. And what I found in there is now consuming me.

As some of you remember, a year ago I got fired from Casino Niagara, after some very sexual heckling. After enduring a night of men chanting,

“Show Us Your Tits!”

and

“Show Us Your Bush!”

I complained to the manager, asking why she didn’t do anything. (We get memos from Casino Niagara telling us NOT to speak back to the crowd, among a dozen other memos.) The audience is mostly people who have been comped free tickets after losing mass amounts of money, then allowed to heavily drink, so that more gambling will occur after the show. As a girl with her Smart Serve, I’m well aware of what over served patrons look like. When I complained, the female employee said,

“Sorry. I thought you liked it.”

Obviously I didn’t like it. Who would? I’m terrible at standing up for myself, but I managed to choke up something, which inevitably got me banned from the club. (blog.walkinsauce.com if you want to read the whole story.) The blog ended up going viral. It was a huge lesson in how the Internet works. It was actually kind of scary. Usually I get excited to see that little @Connect button light up on Twitter. But after my xojane.com article posted, I was overwhelmed. It was terrifying how many eyes were on me- and for such a negative experience. I turned off my phone and went to sleep at 1:00pm. I never expected my big break to be a scandal.

I never mentioned it publically before, but I have emails saved from the night after that show. (Well, I use the word “saved” loosely. I’m the kind of girl that leaves thousands of emails in my inbox. I’m super disorganized like that. Also, deleting emails seems easier on your phone than on your computer, eh?) The manager was taken aback about my concerns. Apparently I didn’t seem “rattled” enough while I was on stage. But she also admitted that she’s still trying to figure out “what comedians like, and don’t like.” Well, comedians aren’t big fans of hecklers in general, but we can deal with them if you let us. One of my favourite thoughts on the subject was what Dean Blundell said when I did his show.

“Christina, that was NOT heckling. Heckling is “You suck!” or “Get off the stage!” What you endured was sexual harassment.”

He’s right. And that’s a fight I should have fought harder for.

Through that whole episode, I was never completely honest. I always said that Yuk Yuk’s was not to blame in all this. I was scared to lose my gigs in their clubs. Nothing means more to comics than stage time. And even though I only make somewhere between $250- $600 a month via the company, I still need that money. (I blame my expensive taste in cheese.) But now that I’ve stumbled upon all these old messages, and discover how many people actually cared about me, and tried to reached me through my own agency, I’m upset again. I protected the company so that I would still have a job. But now I discover they blocked me from all this support. I’m a real life idiot, you guys. The truth is…

They were never on my side.

Before I ever blogged about the incident, I made it a Facebook status update. It got 100’s of comments. I had never had anything that serious on my wall before. Usually my statuses pertain to seeing how long I can go without a shower, or asking if any tall people wanna come over and change my lightbulbs. When my boss at Yuk Yuk’s caught wind of my update, I got a phone call from him. I was scared. I knew I was in trouble.

“I’m going to incorporate a new clause in my contracts where comics aren’t allowed to post about the company on their social media.”

For those of you who don’t know, we all have to sign exclusivity contracts when we sign with the company. This sites that we’re not allowed to take any work outside the company. They can’t possibly give us all enough work to live, but we all sign it, because we want the stage time. And then we all keep second jobs, or live below the poverty line. (If I was smarter, I’d know if this is actually legal.)

When my blog hit the interweb, the response was powerful. It’s weird when you think the way you’re treated is normal, post about it publicly, then learn it’s NOT! People were mad. It wasn’t long til I got a call from my boss. He was furious. Not at the casino, but at me, for speaking out. He yelled at me. The casino had been getting phone calls about my blog, and was now mad at Yuk Yuk’s. I get it. Everyone in Casino Niagara commercials are having the BEST TIME! In reality, most people leave wondering if they saved enough money for parking. (Also in my “other” box: TONS of messages from ex-employees of the casino, confirming they were treated as shitty as me.) Well, I guess Yuk Yuk’s and Casinos have something in common: Profit trumps human rights.

My boss is raging. He yells into the phone:

“I can’t afford to lose that club! They pay their bills on time! I’m not on your side! I’m on the casino’s side! I don’t care about comics! I care about money!”

I was so scared. I burst out crying. I never meant to “bite the hand that feeds you” or whatever that cliche is. He went on to tell me a story I know many comics have heard over the years.

“Lemme tell you a story. Once upon a time, back in the 80’s a comic asked me for a raise. He said, “But they’re all coming to see ME!” So I taught him a lesson. I went to a graveyard, and found a dead guy’s name. I took it, put it on the marquee that night, and the club was STILL packed. People don’t come to see a specific comedian. People come for the Yuk Yuk’s brand.”

At the time I couldn’t disagree. Who am I? Nobody. Nobody really knew who I was. In fact, one of the saddest facts of being a comedian is that a lot of people leave the comedy club, having loved the show, but never remember your name.

Then he put his 3-year old son on the phone for me to talk to. When my conversation with the toddler was over, he reminded me that he has to make money to put food on the table for his family.

“You better hope this doesn’t go to the press.”

My heart was pounding in fear.

I.WAS.BALL-LESS.

It did hit the press. Obvi. I tiptoed through the local radio and TV stations that managed to reach me. (NOBODY reached me through my agents. Nice to pay people commission to be hidden from the world, eh?) I praised Yuk Yuk’s for not being the bad guy in this. Were they ever by my side in any of these interviews? Never. They didn’t want to ruin their relations with the casino. But I never wanted to say anything bad about them, because I didn’t want to lose my gigs in Mississauga next month. (The manager there, Dom is awesome. He actually cares about comedy.)

I did everything I could to appease my boss. We both prayed the attention over this issue would go away. I have this weak habit in life of not fixing problems. I just learn how to use broken things.

I finally left Yuk Yuk’s a year later. I sent an amicable letter quitting. I wasn’t mean. I am greatful for all the growing I did on their stages. But a year after my “Show Us Your Tits, Show Us Your Bush” night, with no support from the man’s name above that logo, I felt gross. I couldn’t tell jokes under that brand for one more minute. I’m actually embarrassed I stayed that long. I had been selling my soul, for the bargain price of $125 a show.

I actually can’t believe I’m writing this. I’ve been called out for having a “fear of being hated.” It’s true. I get along with everybody, possibly even people I shouldn’t. I never read the comments on anything I do. Everything on my YouTube page was posted by others. (I’m terrified of YouTube, cuz in my opinion, that’s where Internet hate goes to soar.) I ditched this wordpress site after the incident. I was too scared to see what people were saying, so I started a new blog on Tumblr, where people can only hit little heart buttons. (Phew!) And because so many of my friends still work for Yuk Yuk’s, I feel bad speaking out against the club. I know these comics really want work. Stage time to a comic is a drug. I get it. Plus, some clubs are actually ran well. Howard Wagman in Ottawa has brewed some of the best comics in the biz- Jon Dore, Jeremy Hotz, Harland Williams- (Is this a tacky time to mention this was MY first comedy club ever? How can I NOT be nostalgic of moments I had on that stage? One of my friends recently said, “I wish I could quit Yuk Yuk’s, but NOT Ottawa.”) The only reason I’m speaking out now is because I found multiple messages in my “other” box, asking me to be on Joy Behar’s show. Joy Behar!! She’s my facking hero! I love her. When I finally wrote the dude back, he wrote,

“We tried sooo hard to get you.”

Due to the exclusivity contract I had with Yuk Yuk’s, everyone should contact them to connect with me. It’s the way business is done as an entertainer. In fact, I would get in trouble if I booked a gig without going through them. But they didn’t want the press. And I never knew Joy Behar cared until now. (Though in my heart, I knew she cared! I willed her to find my story, and apparently she did.) These days the most attention I get from a celebrity is when Patti Stanger responds to my tweets.) There’s something I learned about myself this week. You can underpay me, you can send me shitty places, you can even control me… but if I find out you blocked me from meeting Joy Behar? Well…

Now I’m pissed.

When I find myself having regrets in life, I like to picture myself as Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors. Sure, maybe if I had been less of a coward last year, I’d be cooler right now… Maybe more successful… Maybe not still the owner of a three-legged couch. (I didn’t even get compensated for the $500 I lost that weekend.) But I have to convince myself that making any other moves back then would have lead me to being short haired Gwyneth. (And you DON’T want to end up short-haired Gwyneth. Trust me. I won’t mention any spoiler alert thingys, but come on people. The movie’s from 1998. You should have seen it by now.)

I often think back to that evening on the phone with my boss.

“I have to put food on the table to feed my family!”

I may be single, no kids, no fancy house… but guess what?

I have a table too.

Good riddance, Yuk Yuk’s,

Christina Walkinshaw

Christinawalkinshaw.com

(I know it’s 2014, but I just got a website. I love comedy. I suck as a businesswoman. But at least now, there’s no confusion how to reach me.)

Growing Some Facking Balls

(This blog is technically not about Tinder, but it is important for me to post. Somehow I’ve ended up with 3 blog sites. Why am I on the run from the internet?)

I recently discovered my “other” message box on Facebook. Did you know you have an “other” box? I always assumed I only had one box. I was wrong. And what I found in there is now consuming me.

As some of you remember, a year ago I got fired from Casino Niagara, after some very sexual heckling. After enduring a night of men chanting,

“Show Us Your Tits!”

and

“Show Us Your Bush!”

I complained to the manager, asking why she didn’t do anything. (We get memos from Casino Niagara telling us NOT to speak back to the crowd, among a dozen other memos.) The audience is mostly people who have been comped free tickets after losing mass amounts of money, then allowed to heavily drink, so that more gambling will occur after the show. As a girl with her Smart Serve, I’m well aware of what over served patrons look like. When I complained, the female employee said,

“Sorry. I thought you liked it.”

Obviously I didn’t like it. Who would? I’m terrible at standing up for myself, but I managed to choke up something, which inevitably got me banned from the club. (Link to old blog here blog.walkinsauce.com, if you wanna know the full story.) The blog ended up going viral. It was a huge lesson in how the Internet works. It was actually kind of scary. Usually I get excited to see that little @Connect button light up on Twitter. But after my xojane.com article posted, I was overwhelmed. It was terrifying how many eyes were on me- and for such a negative experience. I turned off my phone and went to sleep at 1:00pm. I never expected my big break to be a scandal.

I never mentioned it publically before, but I have emails saved from the night after that show. (Well, I use the word “saved” loosely. I’m the kind of girl that leaves thousands of emails in my inbox. I’m super disorganized like that. Also, deleting emails seems easier on your phone than on your computer, eh?) The manager was taken aback about my concerns. Apparently I didn’t seem “rattled” enough while I was on stage. But she also admitted that she’s still trying to figure out “what comedians like, and don’t like.” Well, comedians aren’t big fans of hecklers in general, but we can deal with them if you let us. One of my favourite thoughts on the subject was what Dean Blundell said when I did his show.

“Christina, that was NOT heckling. Heckling is “You suck!” or “Get off the stage!” What you endured was sexual harassment.”

He’s right. And that’s a fight I should have fought harder for.

Through that whole episode, I was never completely honest. I always said that Yuk Yuk’s was not to blame in all this. I was scared to lose my gigs in their clubs. Nothing means more to comics than stage time. And even though I only make somewhere between $250- $600 a month via the company, I still need that money. (I blame my expensive taste in cheese.) But now that I’ve stumbled upon all these old messages, and discover how many people actually cared about me, and tried to reached me through my own agency, I’m upset again. I protected the company so that I would still have a job. But now I discover they blocked me from all this support. I’m a real life idiot, you guys. The truth is…

They were never on my side.

Before I ever blogged about the incident, I made it a Facebook status update. It got 100’s of comments. I had never had anything that serious on my wall before. Usually my statuses pertain to seeing how long I can go without a shower, or asking if any tall people wanna come over and change my lightbulbs. When my boss at Yuk Yuk’s caught wind of my update, I got a phone call from him. I was scared. I knew I was in trouble.

“I’m going to incorporate a new clause in my contracts where comics aren’t allowed to post about the company on their social media.”

For those of you who don’t know, we all have to sign exclusivity contracts when we sign with the company. This sites that we’re not allowed to take any work outside the company. They can’t possibly give us all enough work to live, but we all sign it, because we want the stage time. And then we all keep second jobs, or live below the poverty line. (If I was smarter, I’d know if this is actually legal.)

When my blog hit the interweb, the response was powerful. It’s weird when you think the way you’re treated is normal, post about it publicly, then learn it’s NOT! People were mad. It wasn’t long til I got a call from my boss. He was furious. Not at the casino, but at me, for speaking out. He yelled at me. The casino had been getting phone calls about my blog, and was now mad at Yuk Yuk’s. I get it. Everyone in Casino Niagara commercials are having the BEST TIME! In reality, most people leave wondering if they saved enough money for parking. (Also in my “other” box: TONS of messages from ex-employees of the casino, confirming they were treated as shitty as me.) Well, I guess Yuk Yuk’s and Casinos have something in common: Profit trumps human rights.

My boss is raging. He yells into the phone:

“I can’t afford to lose that club! They pay their bills on time! I’m not on your side! I’m on the casino’s side! I don’t care about comics! I care about money!”

I was so scared. I burst out crying. I never meant to “bite the hand that feeds you” or whatever that cliche is. He went on to tell me a story I know many comics have heard over the years.

“Lemme tell you a story. Once upon a time, back in the 80’s a comic asked me for a raise. He said, “But they’re all coming to see ME!” So I taught him a lesson. I went to a graveyard, and found a dead guy’s name. I took it, put it on the marquee that night, and the club was STILL packed. People don’t come to see a specific comedian. People come for the Yuk Yuk’s brand.”

At the time I couldn’t disagree. Who am I? Nobody. Nobody really knew who I was. In fact, one of the saddest facts of being a comedian is that a lot of people leave the comedy club, having loved the show, but never remember your name.

Then he put his 3-year old son on the phone for me to talk to. When my conversation with the toddler was over, he reminded me that he has to make money to put food on the table for his family.

“You better hope this doesn’t go to the press.”

My heart was pounding in fear.

I.WAS.BALL-LESS.

It did hit the press. Obvi. I tiptoed through the local radio and TV stations that managed to reach me. (NOBODY reached me through my agents. Nice to pay people commission to be hidden from the world, eh?) I praised Yuk Yuk’s for not being the bad guy in this. Were they ever by my side in any of these interviews? Never. They didn’t want to ruin their relations with the casino. But I never wanted to say anything bad about them, because I didn’t want to lose my gigs in Mississauga next month. (The manager there, Dom is awesome. He actually cares about comedy.)

I did everything I could to appease my boss. We both prayed the attention over this issue would go away. I have this weak habit in life of not fixing problems. I just learn how to use broken things.

I finally left Yuk Yuk’s a year later. I sent an amicable letter quitting. I wasn’t mean. I am greatful for all the growing I did on their stages. But a year after my “Show Us Your Tits, Show Us Your Bush” night, with no support from the man’s name above that logo, I felt gross. I couldn’t tell jokes under that brand for one more minute. I’m actually embarrassed I stayed that long. I had been selling my soul, for the bargain price of $125 a show.

I actually can’t believe I’m writing this. I’ve been called out for having a “fear of being hated.” It’s true. I get along with everybody, possibly even people I shouldn’t. I never read the comments on anything I do. Everything on my YouTube page was posted by others. (I’m terrified of YouTube, cuz in my opinion, that’s where Internet hate goes to soar.) I ditched this wordpress site after the incident. I was too scared to see what people were saying, so I started a new blog on Tumblr, where people can only hit little heart buttons. (Phew!) And because so many of my friends still work for Yuk Yuk’s, I feel bad speaking out against the club. I know these comics really want work. Stage time to a comic is a drug. I get it. Plus, some clubs are actually ran well. Howard Wagman in Ottawa has brewed some of the best comics in the biz- Jon Dore, Jeremy Hotz, Harland Williams- (Is this a tacky time to mention this was MY first comedy club ever? How can I NOT be nostalgic of moments I had on that stage? One of my friends recently said, “I wish I could quit Yuk Yuk’s, but NOT Ottawa.”) The only reason I’m speaking out now is because I found multiple messages in my “other” box, asking me to be on Joy Behar’s show. Joy Behar!! She’s my facking hero! I love her. When I finally wrote the dude back, he wrote,

“We tried sooo hard to get you.”

Due to the exclusivity contract I had with Yuk Yuk’s, everyone should contact them to contact me. It’s the way business is done as an entertainer. In fact, I would get in trouble if I booked a gig without going through them. But they didn’t want the press. And I never knew Joy Behar cared until now. (Though in my heart, I knew she cared! I willed her to find my story, and apparently she did.) These days the most attention I get from a celebrity is when Patti Stanger responds to my tweets.) There’s something I learned about myself this week. You can underpay me, you can send me shitty places, you can even control me… but if I find out you blocked me from meeting Joy Behar? Well…

Now I’m pissed.

When I find myself having regrets in life, I like to picture myself as Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors. Sure, maybe if I had been less of a coward last year, I’d be cooler right now… Maybe more successful… Maybe not still the owner of a three-legged couch. (I didn’t even get compensated for the $500 I lost that weekend.) But I have to convince myself that making any other moves back then would have lead me to being short haired Gwyneth. (And you DON’T want to end up short-haired Gwyneth. Trust me. I won’t mention any spoiler alert thingys, but come on people. The movie’s from 1998. You should have seen it by now.)

I often think back to that evening on the phone with my boss.

“I have to put food on the table to feed my family!”

I may be single, no kids, no fancy house… but guess what?

I have a table too.

Good riddance, Yuk Yuk’s,

Christina Walkinshaw

Christinawalkinshaw.com

(I know it’s 2014, but I just got a website. I love comedy. I suck as a businesswoman. But at least now, there’s no confusion how to reach me.)