I am not mean by nature. I am not in the habit of picking on people for the helluva it. I do have a problem with people that are bent on ruining a show; especially, if I’m hosting. Doesn’t matter how much money you have or are spending. If you need to be called out, I’m dialing your number. This was the case Friday night (July 10) at the Comic Strip.

A couple came to the second show one act deep into the show. I was on stage as the guy deliberately rearranged seats, choosing to sit as close to the stage as possible. After introducing the next act I returned to the stage finding his date had joined him. She had removed her shoes and propped her naked feet in the guys lap. My first thought was all I had to do is point out that her behavior was inappropriate and move on.

“You might want to put your shoes back on because if you look around, you won’t see anything that looks like your living room because you’re not at home.” Nothing.

They both sat there defiantly as if my request was totally out of the box and they had no intention of complying.

“Seriously, you’re going to sit like that for the rest of the show?”

A couple in the back couldn’t see the offenders and asked what they were doing. I told them she is sitting there wiggling her ugly toes.

“Aw, you’re just jealous I’m not wiggling my toes in your lap.” I assured her that was not the case and continued the show.

If the Strip had someone in place to monitor the room they would’ve known there was a problem, quietly went over to the table and asked the woman to put her shoes on as we were in a nightclub. Not at the beach. No shoes, no shirt, no service. The show would’ve gone on without a hitch.

But that was not going to happen. After the next act it was time for the raffle. The woman still had her shoes off with her feet propped up, and I told her if I picked her name out of the fishbowl I wouldn’t give her the free tickets to a future show. And wouldn’t you know it, I did. Against 70 to 1 odds, she was the winner. I expressed disbelief and she was more than happy to jump on the stage, ID in hand to prove she was the winner. I told her it didn’t matter she was not about to be rewarded for being a cunt. Here we go!

In the next few seconds, I called her a cunt a couple of more times and that’s when her date climbed onto the stage to confront me. He got pretty close to my face before Jay Oakerson came up to step between us. The couple decided without the backing of the rest of the audience who clearly were on my side, it was time to go.

Out in the bar area they were telling anyone who would listen that I had verbally abused them and wanted satisfaction. They finally paid their bill and left the club. The next day, I got a text from the booker saying he had to pull me from the two shows I had been booked for that night. After a few back-and-forths of me explaining my position and the booker steadfastly backing the rude customer I was done.

In the days since the incident I have gotten support from fellow comics and even a customer that was in the audience that night. Jay Oakerson, the only person to come to my defense vowed to never work the Strip again, and posted on Twitter an exchange he had with the owner of the Strip. The owner blamed Jay, me, and other “asshole” comics for the demise of the Comic Strip.

The truth is the Strip has been on a steady decline for years. Long time employees of the club have left and the replacements have been subpar. One comic posted #boycottcomicstriplive. Done.

William Stephenson

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