Contrary to the popular saying, the customer isn’t always right. In fact, quite often they’re flat-out wrong.
Most industry workers typically face two options when a customer is being difficult: throw out an apology or quit in a blaze of glory. But the managers at Acme Comedy Co. have found a way to bite back.
Their We Were Just Laughing podcast launched this past spring, bringing Acme managers Brandon Simon, Joe Feely, and Hannah Rhodes together to share their stories about the worst, weirdest, and most memorable audience members.
“We kind of bonded over telling these kinds of stories,” says Feely. “We’d go somewhere and grab a beer and vent about the night.”
When the pandemic forced Acme to close its doors temporarily, the crew got the idea to turn those after-hours stories into podcast gold.
“Louis [Lee, Acme owner] bought all of this really expensive equipment so that we could do Zoom shows,” says Simon. “So we were brainstorming things we could do with it, and realized we had a lot of good content for a podcast.”
Whether it’s stories about names they’ve been called, people they’ve had to remove, or just weird interactions with unruly customers, the podcast is their chance to share their side of the story.
So what exactly are some of the worst things the hosts have had to deal with?
“One night I told this couple, ‘Hey excuse me, there’s no talking in the club,’” says Rhodes. “And the woman just looked at me and goes, “Tito’s and tonic, thanks.”
For Simon, it’s usually cheap shots about his hair that provide the best stories.
“They always go for my hair. One review I read [online] literally just said, ‘The stupid cashier with the long hair was the worst person ever.’ At least I knew they were talking about me,” he laughs.
But the best (or worst) example of how to be a shitty audience member might have been reserved for a night when Feely had to remove a woman from the club.
“This woman was heckling the comedian, so I finally told her she needed to leave,” Feely says. “And she turns to me and goes, ‘I hope your kids get cancer.’”
While the crew has plenty of stories to keep pumping out new episodes of the podcast, they admit that more often than not, audiences are extremely pleasant and don’t wish cancer on anyone or their kids.
“In a normal year, we get about 70,000 people through the club,” explains Simon. “And maybe .1 percent of them are memorable for the wrong reasons. But those 70 people a year definitely stand out.”
They also mine for comedy gold online, seeking out one-star reviews on sites like Yelp, Facebook, and more.
“Comedy is not meant for audiences to be quite [sic],” one reviewer on Trip Advisor states. “I have been to 50 plus shows and have never been told to be quite [sic] when I laugh. I will never be back and prefer the Cinema Grille [sic] where the audience is treated with respect. I think maybe there is something wrong with the manager emotionally and I feel bad for the staff as he chases away people trying to help his club survive.”
Ex-Acme employees and comics have inquired about potential guest spots on the podcast, as the urge to relive shitty customer stories knows no expiration date. But whoever shows up, the podcast will continue to feel like an after-hours hang with your co-workers, no matter where it is you work.
“It’s definitely a therapy session for us,” says Rhodes.
Visit wwjl.podbean.com to take a listen.