I served as the Treasurer for NYLaughs for…7 years. And I would like to respond to the comments made in this article about the organization.
First off…we get it. Performing in the park isn’t a great fit for all comedians. We have had comics refused to even try. Some come out and try one of our shows and just hate it. And that’s understandable—daylight in a park, with a jazz trio and a bunch of kids playing hopscotch is very different from performing in a dark club at night.
Some comics really love doing our shows, though. We’ve had comics bring their kids to see them perform. We even had a comic perform with his baby strapped onto him. Our audience includes a whole set of people who don’t go to comedy clubs. We have people in recovery who aren’t comfortable in venues where there is a lot of drinking. We have old people who don’t like to go out at night. We have people who can’t afford cover charges and drink minimums.
And…although Joe didn’t feel great about his set…our audience loved him. He was a total pro. He was hilarious. We were happy with his performance then, and are proud to have had an opportunity to feature him in one of our shows. He’s enjoying success now, and he deserves it. We wish him nothing but the best.
Our shows really do bring people together. Not all people. But we would hope that people who don’t love our shows (or comics who don’t love performing in them) can understand that we’re trying to do something positive and graciously wish us the best. It honestly really hurt to hear Joe mock our mission statement.
We’re a TINY nonprofit. We have almost no budget at all. We scrape by on grants and donations. All the administration is entirely done by volunteers. Sometimes our equipment is not ideal (we have upgraded from the so-called “karaoke” speaker thanks to a generous donation from Roland USA).
But, the very first thing we did when we had any budget at all was to start paying comedians. So I would hope that in a world where the performers often are NOT paid for their work, comics would appreciate an organization that actually makes paying talent a priority.
Paying talent is the single largest expense in our budget. We love comedians. We love comedy. And while we realize it isn’t realistic to expect that every comic will walk away from our shows having loved the experience, we do hope that once they become successful, they can respect what we’re doing enough to not to try and get a cheap laugh by mocking a powerless little group that is working hard to make the world a happier place.