Let me ask you this, if those of you with jobs went into work tomorrow and was told that for part or maybe all of that day you were not going to be paid, for no reason other than benefiting the company, would you stay or go home?
I was contacted earlier this week by one of the big Asian TV stations, these guys have been going a while and seem to be doing quite well. Now I’m not going to name them, but a representative from the station contacted me about doing a comedy gig. Normally there is a charity involved or some sort of prestigious awards evening, not this time. This was an invite only comedy night which they want to hold in a couple of weeks from now at a London comedy venue which is likely to hold up to 400 people. This is how the conversation went, click on the images to read.
So I asked for some more details so I could advise them of my fees, now this was all very polite, nothing wrong there. This was the reply.
Right, so “4 million viewers” yet they “don’t have a budget.”?! What they did wrong in the first email was drop some names of comedians that I happen to be friends with. Having gigged with them before, I thought I’d call them up to see what the situation was. Surprise, surprise, they had asked them to do it for FREE. These are professional comics who pay their bills through using their talent to earn money. I replied by giving them the cost of “my expenses” to which I received this reply.
In which universe would this be a win-win situation? Oh wait, the one where I’m being pimped out because I’m a sex starved nymphomaniac. If I were paid by the amount of people asking me to work for free on their corporate/charity-is-my-back-pocket/big-up-my-chest/jumping-on-the-band-wagan comedy nights, I wouldn’t need a national tour!
I’m sorry to say but it seems as though the Asian media industry is always trying to get something for free, there is big “you scratch my back, I’ll shag you up your back end” culture. After being part of this industry for over 10 years in some form or other, I’ve experienced that myself.
It’s not the fact that they have asked me to do this for free, I love comedy and have gigged many a time through no cost to the promoter, its what you do in this industry. The fact is, this is a TV channel, through it’s own admittance, having over 4 million viewers, they are putting on a show for their Christmas TV Special, they have undoubtedly hired a comedy venue and have said they can reimburse my expenses so why would I have to work for free if they won’t? “Not really making any money” cos I guess those 4 million viewers are not paying any of their bills?
So I ask you, if you were told tomorrow you were not getting paid as its a win-win situation at work, would you still work?! Needless to say, I’ll be busy on that night, maybe washing my hair.