12/07/2013 10:40 BST | Updated 08/09/2013 06:12 BST

You Must Love Working Here

As a comedian it's always quite nice to make the bar staff at a comedy club laugh.

It's much trickier than making the audience laugh. Making the audience laugh is fairly straight forward.

The audience at a comedy club have generally paid money to sit in a room, drink some alcohol, watch some people behind a microphone say funny things. The audience go into a comedy club expecting to hear things that they might laugh at. The audience are primed to laugh.

If a comic goes on stage and says a thing that is something an audience might find funny then there's a very good chance that the audience will laugh at that thing.

The bar staff, however, are at a comedy club to work.

Working for the minimum wage whilst being surrounded by laughing drunk people watching a comedian telling the same jokes for the fourth or fifth time in a week can be a little tedious.

The artist Jessica McDermott spent six years working at the Stand Comedy Club in Glasgow whilst studying for her undergraduate degree at Glasgow School of Art. Recently, as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival, McDermott photographed former colleagues and bar staff at comedy nights throughout Glasgow for her project, 'You Must Love Working Here'. The title came from the statement she would hear every single night of working at the comedy club.

"Comedy unwittingly becomes quite a big part of your lifestyle, without you actually being on the circuit. And although you can become quite jaded seeing the same themes and set ups being used over again, there are always those who seek to do something new. And that what keeps it interesting.

"Besides, people who work in work in comedy clubs on the whole tend to be quite funny, quite witty, but I don't think many could get up and do it because it's a whole different skill" says McDermott.

For barman Scott Haden who works at the Stand it's not so much bar staff actively don't like comedy, it's more that it just doesn't register:

"Sometimes you just blank out, you don't absorb what the stand ups are saying, you know, it's just like blah blah blah, Charlie Brown speak, but at the same time you know you can have a brilliant night, if there's a brilliant line up on. You just stand at that bar smiling all night. Those nights are the ones you tend to remember more than the nights you blank out, it's just, you know, they just fade into the air."

If you ask the bar staff what's changed over the years it's always the audiences. More used to watching stand up on TV they can occasionally find live comedy a bit restless.

For Andrew Greer, the show manger, Jongleurs the audience take up most of his time:

"If people are distracted or feel the comedian isn't quite as funny as they are, and in Glasgow everybody's a comedian, it's quite common that you'll get somebody heckling out trying to steal some of the limelight. When that happens it is my job to keep them in place. What I can do is quite a lot of eyeballing."

People like Brian Reed, the Stand's deputy manager have been working at the club for years and have a broader view of the circuit:

"There's a lot more on TV than you would have seen just a couple of years ago. So everyone's kind of vying, or the newer acts are kind of vying for that, they're kind of fighting to be the next person that makes it big on Michael McIntyre or Mock the Week or whatever kind of thing, they're all kind of scrambling for that, which I don't think is really helping the business.

"I think focussing on your career and focussing on actually being funny and doing your stand up routine quite well, I think focussing on that would be a lot more sensible than how you look and if you think you're going to get on telly or not."

There's more information on You Must Love Working Here on Jessica McDermott's website at

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