Last week premiered probably the most relatable video for any stand-up comedian. Created by Sara Schaefer (Nikki & Sara LIVE, You Had To Be There podcast, John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show), the web series “Day Job” highlights what it’s like to be an up-coming comedian who, unfortunately, has to work a day job to pay the bills.
“If this were two years ago, I would have named this “Shit People Say to Comedians,” Schaefer tweeted in regards to the series’ standout episode, “Office Comedian.” Inspired by her five-year stint working at a NY law firm, for episode 3, Schaefer runs through every obnoxious thing all comedians have to put up with at work… pretty much every f*cking day. Here’s the thing, sadly non-comedians (or “normies,” “civilians,” etc.) are often clueless about comedy and how to talk to a comic. The most common, cringe-worthy line: “You’re a comedian, tell me a joke.” This is of course the first stinger outlined in “Office Comedian,” and is a request repeated six more times before episode’s end.
At my last day job, I told my boss upfront at the interview I was a comedian (obviously I was going to need to tell them as I would be asking off repeatedly to do shows). Three days later as I walked into my first day, I found my boss had told everyone on staff. It wasn’t until about two weeks later until I stopped getting, “Hey, tell me a joke!” at least once a day. If I had a dollar for every time this had been said to me, I wouldn’t need a day job.
However, as depicted in the video, it doesn’t matter what you say, people will not stop asking for a joke (sometimes quite angrily). “This is not a conducive environment to do stand-up,” Schaefer tells an unrelenting co-worker (played by comedian Subhah Agarwal). Would you or I ask a musician co-worker to sing and air-guitar one of their songs at work? No, but don’t expect a normie/civilian to see the correlation. “You’re not going to be the next Ellen if you can’t tell a joke on command,” says another one of Schaefer’s co-workers (played by comedian Dan Soder). Other gems: “You should put that in your act,” (no); “You should be on that Saturday Night Live,” (well it does only takes a phone call, should really add that to the to-do list); and, “You know, for a comedian you’re pretty serious,” (yes, because of course comedians are not allowed to own more than one emotion. Oh your computer crashed, apartment robbed, got mugged in the street? Laugh it off, funny lady!)
The rest of the eight episode series tackles other little pains and “snapshots of what it’s like working at a job you hate – while pursuing what you love.” From a boss who doesn’t seem to know you exist (except only at select times to reveal why that might be a good thing), from a crazy cat lady co-worker played by the amazing Ann Carr, to just trying to find a moment of solace away from the soul-crushing cave that is your cubical. All eight episodes are available to binge watch on Schaefer’s Youtube channel, Little BoBo. Directed by Scott Moran (Modern Comedian), “Day Job” is the first of many projects set to be released under Schaefer’s new production company of the same name.