Charlie’s Standup Comedy Journal
Have you ever looked forward to something, and then — for whatever reason — had the event not happen? Remember how disappointed you were?
And then, has it ever happened to you that the thing, by some miracle, actually ended up going on exactly as planned?
Well, that’s how it went for me last night at the Comedy Vault, and it was quite the roller coaster ride. Not one of those fancy new coasters, either — I’m talking about the rickety old wooden kind, where you bump your knees a lot, and it isn’t even fun because you’re afraid the whole thing could fall apart at any second. That kind of roller coaster ride. Except less life-threatening, and without all the cotton candy-flavored vomit. Allow me to explain.
I set up my date at the Vault early in the week. The Sunday night shows there are what’s known as ‘bringer shows’, where you have to show up with paying customers (in this case, two) to get on stage. Unfortunately, on this particular Sunday, I couldn’t rope any of my (usually willing) friends to come along for the ride. Maybe it was that Sex and the City finale. Who knows?
Anyway, I was holding out slim hopes that a ‘maybe’ or two would straggle in, but by ten minutes till showtime, things were looking grim. My darling, beautiful wife (who also works the camera, and let’s all give her a round of applause, folks; she’s working hard out there) and I checked in, but with no one else to speak for me, I figured I wouldn’t be speaking at all that night. So, I paid my wife’s cover, and then paid my own, like any of the other non-comic types who’d schlepped in for some yuks.
Unbeknownst to me —
(Sorry, sorry, I’ve got to interrupt myself here. ‘Unbeknownst’? Christ, that was hard to spell! There is no way to type that word so it looks right; I had to look the damned thing up. And even though I got it right when I typed it into dictionary.com, it still didn’t look right.
And what kind of jackass came up with that, anyway? ‘Unbeknownst‘. Is there really a ‘beknownst’ lying around for it to be the opposite of? Who the hell talks like that? Or even a ‘knownst’, for that matter? Whose frickin’ word is this?
And look, the dictionary doesn’t even know what to do with it — the first definition for ‘unbeknownst’ is ‘unbeknown’. Well, that’s fricking helpful, there, Poindexter. I shit you not; you can look it up. ‘Unbeknown’. ‘Unbe-fucking-lievable‘, that’s what it oughta say. Gimme a break.
Okay, I’m done. Sorry about that. I know, I know — back to the story, already. Jeez.)
Anyway, unbeknownst to me, by paying my own cover, I became my second person, and earned a slot in the lineup. So I was scheduled to go onstage, whether I was planning to — or even knew about it — or not. Just a little miscommunication, you see.
So, I sat — moping, mainly, looking out at the packed house of fifty-plus people that I wouldn’t be delivering giggles to — and watched ten or so comics go up and do their thing. Suddenly, I heard the emcee in the back with the comics, asking, ‘Who’s Charlie? Is Charlie here? Charlie?‘
Luckily, we were sitting right by the comics’ area, so I went back, sorted out what had happened, and discovered that I was not only going on, but I was next. Like ‘two minutes from now’ next. Just enough time to get nervous, go over my first three jokes, and start walking toward the stage. Eep.
In the end, though, I think all went well. (Though I haven’t watched the tape yet, so don’t hold me to that, all right?) I had a little trouble in the beginning fighting down the panic, but it smoothed out somewhat, and I got through everything I’d planned. I even got a couple of pretty good laughs. (Or they were in my head; we’ll know when we see the film, eh?) But the audience was great, and it was a blast — the best semi-impromtu, up-and-down-then-up-again standup set I could hope to do at this point. After which I nearly went out back and barfed up all my cotton candy.
But I didn’t, and I hope you don’t, either, if you do me the honor of watching it. The camera’s way off to the side (and occasionally behind some guy’s head), but I think you can get the general gist of things. I hope you have as much fun watching it as I did performing it. Just don’t be surprised if you’re a little dizzy, and your legs a bit wobbly, after going on the ride. It’ll get you every time.
Download Clip of 02/22/04 Set —
The Comedy Vault at Remington’s, Boston, MA (4 minutes, 58 seconds):
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