Charlie’s Standup Comedy Journal
That’s the first thought that ran through my head as the comics started taking the stage at the All Asia last night. Our gig — the Stash Comedy Jam — was booked for eight o’clock; we thought we’d start going on around eight-thirty or so. The All Asia’s a nice, quiet little place; I ate lunch there a few months ago. It’s quaint.
But not last night.
When my wife and I got there at seven-thirty or so, there were about a dozen people standing outside — with colored spiked hair, spiked leather jackets, ripped clothes, tattoos, piercings… I think I may have seen a flesh tunnel or two.
(Yeah, if you’re not sure what that is, you should probably look it up. It sounds a lot dirtier than it really is. Unfortunately.)
Anyway, we eventually were told that there’d been a punk band festival scheduled before our show. Way before our show, like two pm. But they were running late nonetheless, and we wouldn’t be able to go on before nine o’clock or so. Fine. We went in and listened to the last band play for a while. I like some punk and speed metal — I’m still a big Husker Du fan — and these guys weren’t bad. Kill Babies, I think they were called, or Night Reaper, or something. Deathtongue, maybe. (And a big pat on the back if you know where that reference comes from.)
Anyway, Stash — the emcee for our show — told us that the bar often has punk bands onstage before the comics. (Cambridge, Mass — home of Harvard, MIT, and more biotech than you can shake a cloned sheep at, is apparently a mecca for the New England full-blown balls-out punk scene. Who knew?) But he said that they usually clear out when the music’s over, and we could all stream in with our friends and have our little show.
Only they didn’t. Leave, that is. And while I’m somewhat of a fan of punk music, and got no problem with the punk look and scene and fans… three dozen rowdy, drunk-since-four, leather-clad punkers do not a standup comedy audience make. Rather, they make a big, loud, obscenity-laden mob full of hecklers. And that’s what we got.
Actually, I got off pretty easy. By the time I went onstage — seventh or eighth out of a dozen or so comics — the crowd had settled a bit. Some of the rougher members of the group had gotten bored, or left. A few of them had probably passed out. So it wasn’t so bad, and I actually managed to get a couple of laughs out of them. The big shaved-headed monster up front — I think you can see him on the tape; I learned later that his name is ‘The Minister’, and he sings for a band called Dead Outlaws — showed me the inside of his lip when I made a joke about herpes. A real lovefest, it was.
And really, it was a lot of fun, and a good experience for a fledgeling comic. I abandoned the set I’d planned to do as soon as I saw the first couple of comics get butchered and booed and chanted at.
(Most of the standup guys seemed to be pretty pissed about the whole affair, and spent time arguing and fuming at the crowd. Personally, I think you’ve got to roll with it — that’s the audience you’ve got for the night, and you’ve got a job to do. If it’s a bunch of punkers, too bad. If it’s Granny Clampett and a bunch of her toothless friends, suck it up. Get ’em pissed off, and it’s gonna be even worse than you think it already is. Deal.)
Anyway, I tell you all that to tell you this — if you haven’t watched any of my other clips before… then please, don’t start with this one. My goal for this show ended up being to find the rudest, silliest jokes in my repertoire — mainly about bodily fluids; luckily, I’ve got quite a lot of those — and throw in a ‘fuck’ or ‘mother fucker’ as often as possible, to try and hold the
mob’s crowd’s attention.
(Seriously, a lot of those guys were really cool — I hung out with a couple of them after my set, and a few complimented me on sticking it out through their ‘abuse’ — but they had the attention span of a four year old hopped up on crank. If there wasn’t a punchline — or ‘ass’ or ‘fuck’ or ‘shit’ — every six words or so, they clamped down and got nasty, to see if they could rattle you. I’m sure it’s not quite the same as doing standup in a biker bar… but I hope it’s as close as I ever have to get.)
So, this set’s not really indicative of how I’d normally do a show — I usually practice my stuff for several days, and rewrite and edit until I think it flows pretty seamlessly. The shit in this tape got planned about twelve minutes before I went onstage, as one of the comics was blowing a referee whistle into the mic to try and out-volume the crowd. IF that tells you anything.
But, a show’s a show, so here it is. If you’ve watched the other clips, then you’ve seen most of this material before — and done more professionally, I hope — but maybe you can at least laugh at me for getting up there on stage and trying to do my set at all. And if you can’t laugh at that, maybe you’ll get a chuckle out of this — like a good little comic-whore monkey, I walked up to Stash after it was all over, and said:
‘Dude, I had a great time. When can I come back?‘
Yep. Mother fucking glutton for fucking punishment, that’s me. Fuck.
Download Clip of 01/18/04 Set —
All Asia Cafe, Cambridge, MA (6 minutes, 36 seconds):
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