Okay, let’s see if I can make the first time on stage for a new comic sound entertaining in the slightest. Tough task here. Tough, indeed.
So, first I should set the ‘offstage stage’, so to speak. For those of you who haven’t been paying close attention — or who have a really short memory — I made my comic debut last night, along with six other students in the ‘Standup Comedy 101’ class I’ve been taking. The club we were at in Cambridge (Massachusetts) has a habit of allowing graduates of our class to get their feet wet every year.
(Or, as they so sweetly put it on the programs, they regularly ‘sacrifice virgins’. Charming.)
Anyway, we ‘fresh meat’ sorts of folks were asked to show up a bit early on the night of our, um, ‘deflowering‘. (Oh my.) We all drew out of a hat to find out where in the lineup we’d be thrown to the lions. (Or the hookers, or whatever the hell you sacrifice virgins to — look, there’s only so much material I can milk out of one metaphor, all right?) I drew a ‘2’, which ended up meaning that I’d second overall — a veteran comic would go on first, and then me. Eek.
(Actually, they interspersed nearly a half-dozen ‘pros’ throughout our show, ending with the guy who taught our eight-week ‘How to Be Funny Like Me’ class. I suppose the seasoned standups were supposed to exert some kind of ‘hegemony of hilarity’ over us, raising us up to their lofty yuk-yuk levels. Maybe it worked, and maybe it didn’t; I was too busy trying not to wet my pants to bother with piddly details like that.)
So, the first guy went on, and — just like I was told to do — I made my way to one side of the stage to get ready for my entrance. That meant that I couldn’t actually see the comic onstage, and frankly, I didn’t hear much of his act, either. Something about monkeys at one point, I think, and he may have talked about his high school math teacher. Or maybe my mind was just wandering, back to my trig class taught by Mr. Peepers. I really couldn’t say. I don’t think that even makes any sense. Sorry.
Back to what really happened. (For the moment, at least.) The first guy wrapped up his set, and I went on. I was told to do five minutes, and not to go over. Apparently, the host/owner at the comedy bar gets upset when people go over their time slots. Fine — that’s good to know. So for a while, I considered preparing about seventy seconds worth of material — one setup, maybe a punch line or two, and a wave goodbye. But that seemed a little paranoid, so I beefed it up to just over four minutes. In practice, that is — in the mirror, it was four minutes. In the car, four minutes. In the shower… well, to be perfectly fair, I do tend to get rather distracted in the shower. Something about being naked and wet at the same time, I suppose. So in the shower, it might take eight minutes, or even ten. And on one notable Saturday, most of the afternoon. But we’re not here to talk about that. Let’s try and focus, shall we?
So, when I went up, I was told that there’d be a digital clock on the front of the stage that I could check, to make sure I wasn’t going over my time. Great. So I looked as I stepped onstage. The clock said: ‘|-:-L’. Seriously. Three-quarters of the little lines that make up the numbers were burnt out — I’d be better off trying to deduce the time by staring at the damned Matrix than this stupid clock. So, I took a deep breath, and said those four little words that I always try to remember in these situations, the ones that always calm and soothe me. You know the ones:
‘Oh, just fuck it.‘
Anyway, long story… uh, still long, really — I did the bits that I’d planned. And it went well, I thought. I didn’t stutter, or lose my voice, or forget any of my jokes. I didn’t even wet my pants! And I got some laughs… though honestly, it’s a bit hard to tell whether the audience was giggling with me, or at me.
(Seriously, when my crotch, Joe Camel, and the Elephant Man are all involved, it can be tough to put your finger on what exactly is amusing people. Or disgusting people, for that matter. I think my material may be like a loud fart in a crowded room, or a pile of baby poop — some people will get a kick out of it, others may be offended, and the rest will just try to get the hell out of range. I’m not sure what all of that means, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good.)
But I got through my set, and could then relax and watch the rest of the show, just like anybody else. Well, except that they don’t let the comics actually sit, of course. We’re not paying customers, after all, so we’ve got to stand in the back.
(So I guess I could watch the rest of the show like anybody else, as long as ‘anybody else’ is a bouncer, or a late arriver. Or maybe a pervert who just stands back there in his raincoat, trying to look down the waitresses’ shirts. Yeah… I miss grandpa.)
So, the rest of the comics, old and new, finished up, and we newbies headed downstairs for a celebratory beer with our respective entourages. I went to the club with my wife and a half-dozen or so of our friends.
(And got to meet the very cool Amber, who was nice enough to show up, and didn’t even throw any rotten fruit at me! And she even brought a friend. And her friend didn’t throw anything, either! How cool is that?) And my classmates were all there — there was the vagina poem lady, and the sensitive masculine guy, and Mister Naked, and the hermaphrodite attractor, and the sweaty male babysitter, and even the red bib dude. *shudder* Yeah, don’t ask about that last guy. I think he could have at least left out the part about it being a ‘true story’. *wibble*
So, it’s good to have the first show over with. My wife even taped me on our brandy-new, handy-dandy camcorder. I watched it a couple of times last night, scanning for awful, embarrassing, futile moments. And I gotta be honest — I really didn’t find anything to cringe over.
(At least until I tried to figure out how to transfer the video to my computer. That might take a bit more figurin’. And some cables. And a couple more IQ points. I’ll get there; don’t worry. If you want to see the train wreck that is my first foray into comedy, then by god, you shall be able to. Um, eventually. I’m workin’ on it, okay?)
So that’s my story — thanks to all who came out to see the de-virginizing, especially Amber, who took a big risk in coming out to see a near-total stranger, and GZ, who flew in all the way from Spain to watch.
(Yeah, yeah, he said that he was coming back last night anyway… still, I like to think that he ran back just for the event, then caught a redeye back to Barcelona last night. Sure, the lie will fall apart tomorrow night, when I see him again… or maybe I’ll make up something even more ridiculous to explain his presence. Dunno. Depends on how drunk I am at the time, most likely.)
Hopefully, this is the first in a long line of shows. Rotten-fruit-free shows, preferably. But shows is shows, right? So, in case anyone else out there is interested, I’ll let you know when I’m able to line up more gigs.
(Oooh, preview — the first, also with the other newly-deflowered folks from last night, will be on December 3rd in Dorchester, MA. I’ll post more details before the show… but this time, not the same day of the show.
(Thanks for the tip, Tanya.))
Of course, I don’t think I’ll be paid quite as handsomely at upcoming shows as I did for this one. The owner of the club wrote each of us a nifty one-dollar check from the club. He said he wanted to be able to say that we earned our ‘first dollar in comedy’ at his club. Cool. Now I just have to try to make sure it’s not my last. Woo!Permalink | 7 Comments