Selling Laughs in Times Square
Voices of New York Postcard for Uptown Radio. Originally aired February 17, 2012.
HOST INTRO: Times Square is full of comedy clubs hoping to entertain New York’s many tourists. But getting customers into the seats is no joke. Sidewalk sellers work strictly on commission, and some days they don’t leave laughing. Annie Russell reports.
RUSSELL: Friday afternoon on 7th Avenue. Another busy day for Midtown’s comedy promoters.
SOUND: (OVALEZ AND LADIES 1): “Do you lovely ladies like stand up comedy? Oh, you’re on the move, have a good one.
ACT (OVALEZ 1): My name is David Ovalez and I’m a promoter for the comedy clubs here in Times Square. This is a very difficult job. A lot of people cannot do it. 90% of people quit in the first two weeks. I was one of them. I quit this job three times. I was like ‘I can’t do this, it’s too hard.’ It’s stopping the people. That’s the hardest part.”
RUSSELL: Ovalez is paid by the comedy clubs on commission. If he can’t convince anyone to buy a $30 ticket to the show, he doesn’t get paid. He says the rejection builds character.
ACT: (OVALEZ 2): “After you get used to the rejection, it’s nothing, you know what I mean? I can go to the club and talk to any girl now,”
RUSSELL: And there are other perks to his job.
ACT: (OVALEZ 3)“I’ve gotten plenty of girls’ numbers from this job, yes. And it all starts with “Do you like stand-up comedy?”
RUSSELL: But today, no luck. After four hours in Times Square, Ovalez has yet to make a sale. Finally, someone stops.
SOUND (OVALEZ AND TOURIST): “My friend, do you like stand-up comedy?” “I do!” he replies. “Where are you from my friend?”
“Denmark. I’m actually leaving America today” “Did you have fun in New York?” “Yes it was awesome,” “Alright, have a good one,”
ACT (OVALEZ 4): “Almost, almost. You always want to say “have a nice day” or “have a good one” to keep your spirits up as well, you know what I mean? You go through a lot of rejection out here.”
RUSSELL: No sale today, but Ovalez says he’ll be back at 9:00am tomorrow. Annie Russell, Columbia Radio News.