Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Sleepless Night After

I couldn't sleep last night. The Crap Set kept coming back to me in bits and pieces. I've heard that's the way post-traumatic stress disorder is.

As they say in the world of comedy, I ate it last night. I bombed. Probably the worst response I have had from an audience, ever.

Right out of the gate, the audience didn't get my opening bit. They were mostly tourists, and the bit required at least a tiny bit of familiarity with San Francisco. Apparently, they did not have that. Not their fault-- my fault. That first punch line is so important! It gets the momentum started. Or not. If there's no momentum, there's inertia. It gets progressively more difficult to get laughs after that. The tags on the joke worked, but they couldn't overcome the inertia that began to settle in after that first punch line.

The next bit, close to nothing. I attribute that to the inertia. And then, for some reason, I decided to do a tag that I had pretty much abandoned. Why, oh why? If I had thought that it was going to turn it all around for me, I was wrong. I hadn't planned on doing it. I guess I figured, well, nothing else is working, let's throw this out there.

My set was only 5 minutes (thank God!), so I'm already getting the light. I do my final bit, and it's a little better, but not much. I exit the stage to tepid applause.

I just listened to it again. (I tape almost all my sets. Sometimes I even listen to them.) There were laughs, yes, but for the most part, it was as bad as I remembered it. Bad enough that afterward, the host gave me one of those patronizing man-hugs-- the kind that says, "you'll get 'em next time, slugger."

And then he asks me, "were you working out new stuff up there?"


No. No, I wasn't. Those were all jokes that have worked elsewhere.

Oh I almost forgot! To start my set, the host announces me, then as I'm walking on stage, he accidentally turns off the microphone. So for an awkward beat or two, he's standing there turning the mike back on, and I'm just standing there watching him. In hindsight, an omen.

If I had it to do over again, I would have abandoned my material all together, and I would have called the audience on their lack of response. Not in a mean way, but just to let them know that I know they aren't digging my act.

Everyone, even the best comedians, eats it occasionally. That's just part of the game. It happened, it sucked, but I lived through it, and I will be okay.


At 10:05 AM, Blogger Tiffany said...

I'm sure you are just being hard on yourself!

It could be worse... I just got 4 free tickets in the mail from the last comedy show I went to because apprently the club thought the acts were so dry that they sent us all free passes to another show!

One guy even said on stage that he hadn't had a good set in months. You are fantastically funny - blame the tourists!

At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Kirin said...

What is your goal as a comedian? Are you hoping to quit your day job one day, or something less defined?

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Ish said...


I would love to quit my day job and do comedy full-time. I originally aspired to comedy writing, and I still do, but I enjoy performing what I have written more than I thought I would.

I wrote a little bit about this in my very first post here.

At 9:28 PM, Blogger Sydney said...

ouch. sorry.

yeah, I like it when a comedian calls the audience on the lack of response. Seems to work a lot of times too.

The two most frequent ways I've heard it done are to either repeat the joke until the audience loosens up and laughs because they realize they're on the hook until they do. Or to abuse them for not laughing. Or wait, #3, the self-denegration of the comedian. I myself don't like #3. The audience may just agree with you if you do that.

Can you tell I listen to a lot of comedy?

I have xm satellite and it stays permanently on xm comedy. Why? So that when I'm losing thousands of dollars selling dead birds I can get in the car and at least laugh about SOMETHING.

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Sydney said...

sorry, I meant to the xm extreme comedy channel

and the second photo is starting to grow on me.


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