Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It's A Small World (with at least one really bad MC)

So I did a show last night at Stand Up NY. It was supposed to be an "HBO Aspen Callback Show" meaning that a lot of the comics performing were auditioning for The Aspen Comedy Festival. Needless to say, I was not one of them...

The reason that I was invited was to bring five people to the show since it's tough to get a decent crowd on a Monday night (esp in the winter). So I get there and check out the list of performers....it's so long that they needed two pages....I hate when they book like that...it means everyone's getting only five minutes.
When the show started, there were more comics by the bar waiting to go up than audience members.

Anyway,being one of the "bringer" comics, I know that I'm going on close to the end (I know this because they told me - the dude who booked me apologized and told me he'd get me a "real prime time slot next month." I nodded as I watched his nose grow another inch.)

The MC gets on...this chick who's prolly 10 years younger than she looked. She starts doing some crowd work...fine...that's what MC's do. But she's bad at it...really bad. And it's worse when there's little crowd. She starts off merely boring but quickly takes a right turn into insulting territory. There were Indian (from Bombay...not a casino) people sitting in the front who she made fun of...fine. But not only did she keep going but she started doing an Indian accent when speaking. It got uncomfortably quiet, until she picked on some girl who said, "You're not funny," which greatly displeased the MC. She went off on her...telling her how rude she was, blah, blah, blah.

There's a simple rule for an MC - or any comic - when dealing with an audience member. If yer gonna go after them, make sure the crowd is on your side. This crowd - and I use the word "crowd" loosely - wasn't. They hated her more than the crowd hated me on Friday night. The funny thing (to me anyway) was how the situation kept repeating itself. The comics were by and large excellent...then she'd come up to the stage and absolutely kill the crowd (not in a good way). Watching them, I noticed the other comics getting pissed, especially when they were about to go up. The situation actually got even more bizarre. She must've started drinking while other comics were up because she kept missing her cues to get back onstage, leaving the comic up there at the end of his/her set waiting for her...sometimes they didn't wait...they left the stage leaving it empty until she made her way up. She also kept either mispronouncing, and sometimes forgetting the comics' names...in fact, I was worried that she was gonna get me beat up cause she's an idiot (explanation in next paragraph).

The dude who went on before me didn't do well, in fact, he told some rather off-color jokes about blacks (he was Irish...not the black kind) who elicited some boo's. One big black dude in the crowd looked especially perturbed. When the MC went on, she naturally forgot screwed up, and said, "Keep it going for Harris Bloom!" She did this while the black dude and his party were leaving, so they didn't even hear her correct herself. If I get hate mail, I'm forwarding it to her.

I did well...well, as well as one can do in front of the minimal crowd that stuck it out to the bitter end.

Speaking of bitter, the last dude that went on must've been a deranged homeless man who wandered in. He just kept ranted with no apparent puchlines in sight, at times threatening the audience with the mic stand. It really was a fitting conclusion to the evening.

Really weird sidenotes: One of the people who came to see me actually taught preschool to the only other comic on the bill that I knew. Also, one of the other comics on the bill said I looked familiar...he then remembered that we did jury duty together a few months ago. Too bad he didn't stick around to see my act, he could've seen me joke about it.

Rock On,


Monday, December 12, 2005

A Tale of Two SHows

So, as y'all know, Friday night was my first paid gig ever. I was to perform at a fund-raiser for the Hunter College Women's Basketball Team. For some reason I wasn't really nervous going on...maybe I was maturing as a comic...better prepared...more confident in my material. Yes, that must be it!

So when I go in, I find out that the other two comics are Modi, who performs all over the city and, in fact, the country (I've seen him before...he's awesome) and some other dude who I never heard of but has been on Comedy Central and Letterman. I started to get nervous.

Modi, who hadn't arrived yet was gonna go on as soon as he got there because he had another gig that night. I told the MC that I didn't care when I went on since the only plans I had for later that evening involved General Tsao and his lovely chicken. When Modi arrived in time to go on first (after the MC did his thing), the MC asked if I minded following him since the other dude didn't wanna. In the worst decision since that Best dude left The Beatles, I agreed.

First of all, most of the crowd were minority college kids...not really my target audience. I scrapped the idea of doing my jury duty and work related stuff. My nerves increased.

I started getting REALLY nervous when Modi was onstage. . He was killing (that's "doing extremely well"). By the time he left, the crowd was in his hands...laughing even before he got to the punchline. Then it was my turn.

I tell my first joke...a joke about my poor basketball playing ability in an effort to get them on my side......nothing.
I tell my second joke....starting my own material....nothing.

And it went downhill from there.

Not only didn't they laugh much, but I swear, they wanted to beat the crap out of me. The biggest laugh I got was when I said, Thank You," after I told a joke that was met with complete silence. Long story short, I stayed on for about 10-12 minutes but it felt like 30.

(by the way, after the MC introduced the next comic, he saw me in the hall and said, without a trace of irony, "Good set.")

I went to bed that night - after eating a Snickers bar, a Boston Creme Dunkin' Donut, a Toasted Almond coffee from said donut emporium and my General Tsao's - wondering why the heck I'm doing this...and kinda dreading my show planned for the next night at Gotham Comedy Club...where, by the way, Bronwen's parents would see me perform for the first time.

So I was back to my nervous self before Saturday's show. Maybe cause I bombed the previous night, or maybe cause I couldn't remember the wording of my first couple of jokes.

Anyway, I went on fifth. My first joke did well. My second joke did well also. Then, I kicked it up a notch and even got some applause. Though I remained nervous throughout my set (dunno why), the audience was definitely diggin' me. I'm still at the stage where if my first couple of jokes don't do well, I lose confidence up there and I think the audience smells that (well, that and when I piddle on myself up there).

Anyway, I have another gig tonight at Stand Up NY (9 PM)...my fingers are crossed.

Rock On,