Standup Comedy Basically Used to Be Like an Episode of The Sopranos

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Jumpin’ jackrabbits! Comedy is a dangerous game, sonny boy; if you’re not careful you could end up gettin’ punched before the punchline. Ominous old-timey warnings aside, this article about the mob’s influence on the post-Prohibition nightclub scene - and on comedian Allan Drake - is a crazy read. Imagine if comedy clubs today worked like this:

Southbound in Danville, Illinois, Sammy Shore had a similar experience. “I’m working and all of a sudden in the middle of my show - these guys get in an argument at the ringside table. Mob guys. Guy takes out a gun and shoots the other guy in the head! I picked up my trumpet. People were screaming and running out. Shot him a couple of times. I’m on that stage and I picked up my horn and started singing [in a Louis Armstrong voice], ‘Oh, when the saints! Come marching in! Oh, when the saints come marching in!’ I stayed there for another four weeks, but there were things like that that happened wherever I worked.” A murder here, a murder there. As Rusty Warren said in dismissive terms, they were but a minor inconvenience that would “stop the show for a bit.”