"Sorry, but I'm not going to book you at my club...no, you're definitely funny, it's not that. It's because you're... black."
Would that conversation happen between a booker and a comic today? Hell no... the booker may not book the comic because he's black, but tell him/her some other reason.
And yet, it's perfectly fine for a booker to tell a comic that they aren't going to use them because they're too old. That's what happened to hilarious comic Robin Fox at a top NY club and Jerry Shack at another. Another comic, buddy Doug Adler, was told by a guy who runs festivals that his age will make it tough for him to get noticed.
Again, can you imagine if another comic were told that it would be tough to make a festival cause he was a Jew? (Unless, it was, like, "The Huntsville, Alabama Comedy Festival.")
On one hand, I do get it...some clubs seem to get a large percentage of younger audience members... it would make sense to have younger comics on the card. Though...good comics do well with any audiences...I've seen Robin Fox kill with twenty-somethings, and I've seen younger comics totally eat it with younger crowds.
And yeah, I get it...everyone's looking for "fresh, young faces" - the comics who will become the face of their clubs for years to come and get TV deals*, etc. - But here's the thing, we live in an age of NOW. Internet sensations become famous overnight, blogs turn into book deals after running for six months, etc. Who cares if Doug Adler won't wanna do comedy in ten years cause his arthritis is acting up (Note - Doug doesn't have arthritis...at least as far as I know)? All I know is that right now, he's out doing shows/open mics like 5/6 nights a week...as is Robin...and Jerry.
At the memoir class I recently took, I learned that though publishers used to be very age-conscious, that attitude has changed, due to all the flame-outs of the younger writers, who either couldn't deal with the pressure, or just had one book in them.
I'm hoping the same happens in comedy, especially, since, you know, I'm getting older.
*Because you know, the young guns out in Hollywood have been doing so well deciding which sitcoms to air.