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What I Learned Selling Comedy Tickets On The Streets Of New York

John DeVore
9 min readMay 14, 2024

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Everything I ever learned about capitalism, I learned selling comedy tickets to strangers on the streets of New York City.

The first lesson is to never, under any circumstance, sell the product because the product is crap. Sell yourself. Humans trust other humans. People make promises, not things. And the secret to selling yourself is simple — make eye contact, grin, and lie. That last bit is critical.

What I was selling wasn’t even really a ticket. I mean, it wasn’t a scam, either. Not exactly. Here’s how it worked: Comedy clubs, at the time, were never fully booked. So they permitted promotion companies to print discount “tickets” — laminated cards with a phone number printed. The customer would call the number on the card, and the comedy club would pack them in whenever — and wherever — they could.

The business also sold discounts to hair salons because, like comedy clubs, a hair salon can never have too many bookings. I wasn’t asked to sell haircuts, though. No one buys discount haircuts from people who are insecure and unkempt, and I was both. A real slob.

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John DeVore

I created Humungus, a blog about pop culture, politics, and feelings. Support the madness: https://johndevore.medium.com/subscribe