Friday, August 12, 2005

Another Way to Shatter Your Soul: Hand Out Flyers

You see them everyday. People handing out flyers. Flyers for 10% of your purchase of $50 or more at Bed Bath & Beyond, or discounted admission to a club, or a promo for eyebrow threading, whatever that is. Or those guys who stand on the corner, with the big arrow pointing to the mattress store that is having a Blowout Sale! He's totally out of it, listening to music, rocking back and forth.

I've looked at life from both sides now. I don't mind telling you, handing out flyers sucks. It's the closest I have come to saying, "that's it, this isn't worth it."

I only did it about 5-6 times, but that was enough. The comedy flyers are a little different from the other guys. The other guys probably get paid by the hour, and they're supposed to hand out all the flyers. The comedians ACTUALLY CARE whether someone will take a flyer and come to the show. In many cases, if they don't get people, they don't get on stage. So it's hard not to take it personally.

The first thing I noticed while flyering in New York is that there are quite a few people out there walking the streets who are absolutely crazy. Not just the guy with a drugstore shopping bag on one foot, carrying a hello kitty pencil box. I mean the basically functional people who are, nevertheless, nutballs. It's a much higher percentage of the population than I would have guessed.

Some people walked by having resolved that under no circumstances would they acknowledge my existence. As if making eye contact with me would turn them into a pillar of salt. (It happens, but rarely. I try to use my powers for good, not for evil.)

I saw people who tried to time when they would pass me so that there would be someone else between me and them, or when I would be facing the other direction. You could read the terror on their faces. "Dear God, please don't let him speak to me!"

Some went so far as to walk out into traffic to avoid getting within my flyering range. They would rather risk being hit by a bus than hear that there's a comedy show at 10pm. Why, people, why? I'm not handing out Ebola virus.

Oh, and there were the 20-something guys, who tried to impress their dates by saying things like, "I hate comedy," or "that's okay, I'm already funny enough."

Oh well played, Oscar Wilde, well played. Douchebags.

My favorite reactions, without a doubt, were from the people who felt compelled not only to say no, but to make sure that YOU knew they had a legitimate excuse.

"Ooh, I'd really love to come, but my in-laws are in town from Toronto. Yeah, we're going to see "Wicked" tonight, then we have to get up early tomorrow, because we're taking them to the Empire State Building."

Dude. A simple "no thanks" would have been fine. You had me at no.

I remember most fondly the people who did something I previously had thought unremarkable: they acknowledged my existence in a well-adjusted manner. They didn't always say "hey, thanks, I'd love to see a show." In fact, only a tiny fraction said anything like that. Most said no if they said anything. But to the ones who actually looked me in the eye, and in a friendly way said, "no thanks," I say: no, thank you.


At 6:08 PM, Blogger Not Bridget Jones said...

I actually read an article in the New Yorker about comedy club flyer-ers some time back. That must make you like, sophisticated and stuff!

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous changeseeker said...

Other soul-shattering activities I've either lived through or heard about:
1. making blind phone calls to encourage people to vote a certain way
2. going door-to-door soliciting donations for environmental movements...or hell, for anything
3. dragging a suitcase around, trying to sell perfume or children's books or whatever to people in parking lots or small businesses on a blisteringly hot day
4. sitting at a table full of religious or political brochures on a college campus when there's *way* more interesting stuff on either side of you, and/or
5. sitting endlessly at a bar, after having already told the bartender that you're waiting for someone, when it becomes obvious to both of you and apparently most of the wait staff, as well, that you've been stood up (even though you're the only one who knows that it was for a first date)



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