Chandler, Arizona, United States
There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .
My Very First Stand-Up Open Mic Part 3
with love from CRS @ 10:28 AM
this entry brought to you by wildflag, "something came over me"
(cont'd from yesterday.)
The guest host of the night came up at the beginning of the show, saying, "Well, ordinarily at this time I do my act, but it is far too offensive for these nice people here who are just trying to watch their kids play hockey. So I thought, how do you tell jokes that would please families? So I Googled 'Family friendly jokes', and I got this. Here are 101 Cat jokes." Then he proceeded to read off these awful, awful, punny, jokes that you would read off of a Laffy Taffy wrapper. And it was hilarious. He did exactly what he was supposed to do as a host, he addressed a problem that we were all thinking, and completely defused the situation. I honestly felt a little more comfortable after he started, felt more ease with the situation.
There were seven comics in front of me; some of them were very funny, others not so much. One person didn't so much have jokes, but he really told a story well and really had my attention despite, you know, a lack of laughter. But I will say that, considering it was an open mic, it was much, much better than I had anticipated. I thought the quality of comics would lean much higher toward the "Bitches be shoppin', am I right fellas?" kind of comedy, but what I got was much closer to people who actually had a point of view and were trying to make respectable comedy. This also made me feel more comfortable. My style of comedy was clearly different than anyone else, but I was surprised at the balance of storytelling comedy versus dick jokes, whereas I thought it would be almost 90% dick jokes, bitches be crazy, and bad racist humor. I was also surprised at how little I saw anyone imitating other comedians' styles, which I also expected a lot of.
I was the eighth comic up, so by the time it was my turn, people's friends and favorites had already gone up, the two tables that were to our left had deserted off to the bar, or to the bathrooms, or were outside smoking. This left about twenty people, and absolutely nobody on the right side of the room. When I got up and could see a line of tables with people on my left side but a gigantic hole on my right I was a disappointed that such a huge chunk was gone out of the crowd, but told myself in my head, well, what if they were there, but just didn't laugh? The half the room that was left would be fine.
...And I got laughs. On every single joke. It was difficult to tell from my distance from the audience how much laughter it was, but there were definitely laughs everywhere there were supposed to be laughs, and bigger laughs in places that I didn't necessarily expect.
I walked up and was cool as a cucumber, and my first joke got big laughs, so I launched into my next joke. But about half way through my set-- let's say about 3 minutes in, I started to get nervous. My arms started shaking. Oh god, I thought. Oh god, I'm shaking. Could everybody see it? Just stop thinking about it, pace yourself, and keep going through it, I thought. Kristen was recording the whole thing, and luckily, you can not tell that I was shaking half way through when you look back at the tape, even though it was something I had to concentrate on to maintain my cool. Thank god.
When I was in high school drama class, my trick was to remove my glasses-- I can't see faces without my glasses, and it makes it easier to perform when you cant see faces looking up at you. But I decided to go with my glasses here, thinking that it would help the context of my jokes, and when I got up there-- oh, right. Lights. I could only see the people at the very front, and one of the people at the very front was Kristen anyway.
But there was still something about high school that came back to me. When you were in high school, did you ever have to sit in front of some drama geek on stage performing a monologue? It's excruciating. Even when you're performing in front of exclusively your class, and everybody in the class is really friendly, and furthermore, everybody has to perform a monologue, so everybody is going to be on stage, you'd think we'd all be supportive because we all had to do it-- high school students couldn't care less about you up there, having memorized a speech. And I remember being in class, looking disinterestedly at the stage at someone doing their monologue, and looking around at the other students and seeing that they weren't interested either.
And I remember going up there, without my glasses, only able to see the front row, which was made up of friends of mine, so when I saw them looking up at me, well, that was expected. I remember doing my lines and hearing laughter, that turned into bigger laughter, that turned into uproarious laughter. And when I got back down from the stage and walked past everyone, everybody's eyes were on me, smiling, clapping. Not just the disinterested, polite claps, but everybody looking at my face, smiles, high fiving me as I went down.
I did not get that big of a reaction on my open mic night. The laughter was not uproarious. But then, when I was in high school, and I did not write the monologue I wrote.
There was still that basic feeling, though. I just took a group of people who ultimately couldn't care less-- well, maybe a little bit more supportive than bored high school kids, maybe a little bit more in the mood to laugh than kids just trying to get through another period-- but I made them laugh. Every single time I wanted to.
I suppose it's possible to oversell this. I was, after all, just a guy at an open mic telling jokes to twenty something people. There are open mics all over the goddamn place, and there are wanna be comics all over. But I should also say that after wanting to do this for years, after starting when I'm thirty three, after having finalized a set and practicing it several times, it was a lot of build up, and somehow it didn't disappoint at all. I couldn't have been happier. While I couldn't call it killing, I did in fact nail it. It feels weird and pathetic to say it, but I haven't felt this personally accomplished since the birth of my second child. But then again, maybe it isn't so pathetic-- you fucking think up funny shit and say it in front of strangers and see if they laugh every single time. If I used smiley emoticons anywhere on my blog, it would be right there. Smiley.