Waiting tables is not for faint of heart. Nor is it for the thin-skinned, the sarcastic, or the surly. It is, however, a terrific source for comedy, and Miranda Beck is mining comedy gold from her job. The 32-year-old Beck, a server at the New Sheridan Chop House for nearly three years, has been posting TikTok videos for the past month that show, in a matter of captioned seconds, what it is like to deal with the dining public.
Beck, who has been in the food service profession since she was a teen, stars as both herself and the customer du jour in the tiny, well-wrought sketches. Anyone who has ever worked the front of the house can relate to her incisive vignettes that put customer behaviors and server life in sharp relief. “I know the owner.” Check. Fake ID. Check. Getting cut early. Check. Not bothering to read the menu. Check. Loiterers who won’t get out of the way. Check. Her goal is to create one per shift she works.
“They’ve been very cathartic,” Beck said. “They make me feel like I’m being a little bit educational, without being mean.”
The stress of the early months of COVID and the “dirty mouth things” servers are in contact with daily made for a rough early summer of 2020.
“It was strange,” she said. “It was really bad last summer.”
But with outdoor seating and a growing understanding of what it took to create safe working protocols during a pandemic, the summer season became manageable. Dealing with kind people helped.
“Summer visitors are generally pretty nice,” Beck said.
Winter, with its wealthier demographic and less to offer in the way of outdoor dining (at least at the Chop House), proved the launching pad for Beck’s often-hilarious, sometimes poignant unscripted video project. Admittedly, she said, she has a lot to learn, but for now uses a green screen TikTok filter so she can have consistent backgrounds. And has found the sweet spot of when it’s best to film them in her home.
“I create them right away (after a shift),” she said.
Being a wait person has struck a universal note on TikTok where her videos are commanding as many as 25,000 likes and one, on tipping in the U.S., started a thread with more than 200 comments. She also shares them on Instagram (where Dad hangs) and Facebook (Mom’s social platform of choice).
Beck has a vision beyond becoming a social media sensation — standup comedy. She would have had her debut at the 2020 Telluride Comedy Festival, but COVID’s disruptions on regularly-schedule life had muscled in by mid-March. The fest was canceled. It’s a dream that has taken work to achieve.
“I never though of myself as good enough to attempt it,” she said. “I have massive stage fright. But working with Sasha (Sullivan) and Telluride Theatre in ‘Dude & Bro Get Real’ and doing burlesque gave me great experience.”
She’s talked to the New Sheridan’s co-owner Ray Farnsworth about possibly doing a standup show at The Phoenix Bean and has been bandying about the idea of a Liberty bar comedy night with local comedian David Stocker, once restrictions on indoor gatherings are more favorable.
“I would like to get back into the thick of things,” Beck said. “These videos and my job are great material for standup. There’s such a vast variety of things that happen. I can see doing this for a long time.”
But for now, with her eyes on the prize, Beck truly enjoys waiting tables, no matter how ridiculous the customer.
“It’s one of my favorite things,” she said. “It gets me out and socializing. You meet cool people and I have great co-workers.”
The flexibility of the job is also attractive, especially in a seasonal economy like Telluride’s in which most service workers have two, extended breaks.
“The flexibility is a lot of why I’m still doing it,” Beck said. “You can work a few days a week and survive.”
The outpouring of online attention she’s attracting — mostly strangers on TikTok and friends and family on Facebook and Instagram — has been somewhat of a surprise, but her gratitude is boundless.
“The comments are all so good. It’s been encouraging,” she said. “Knowing there are 20 to 30 people chuckling makes me feel good.”
And tackling the stresses of waiting tables with humor is, she said, utterly necessary.
“You have to use humor or you won’t make it.”
Miranda Beck’s handle for both Instagram and TikTok is @duhranduh
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