I went onstage last night at the Comedy Vault in downtown Boston. It was a packed house, full of college kids mostly — a fun crowd, and it was great to play to a full house.
I actually thought I wouldn’t be allowed to go on — Sundays at ‘da Vault’ are ‘bringer shows’, where you have to show up with two paying guests to get stage time. This week, my friends were pretty busy, and weren’t able to stop by to watch.
(Or are sick of being badgered and cajoled to come see the same jokes they’ve been hearing for four months now. Tomato, tomahto… whatever.)
Anyway, I headed down there with my wife, and hoped for the best. I had a couple of ‘maybe’s, but I held no delusions that anyone was actually going to be able to make it. A few minutes before showtime, I checked in with the organizer, and let her know that it was just me and the missus, so I supposed I’d just pay for the two of us and spectate for the evening. The organizer let me know that if anyone else came in for me, she’d let me know. I thought that was it, and settled down with a beer to watch the other comics.
Little did I realize that by paying the cover for myself, I became my second person. She left me on the list, and — about halfway through the show — I heard the emcee for the night asking around among the comics, ‘Charlie? Who’s Charlie? Is Charlie here?‘ Luckily, I was sitting near the comics area (hey, it never hurts to be close to the action), heard him, and stepped back to sort it all out.
‘I thought I was off the list,’ I told him.
‘You’re on the list,’ he told me.
‘I only brought one person tonight; I thought she marked me off.‘
‘Okay, I’ll check with her.‘
So he checked, she told him I’d paid for two, and — just like that, with only a minute or so of realizing I’d go onstage — there I was, mic in hand, blathering to a crowd of fifty or more. Fantabulous.
I thought it went pretty well — you’ll be able to see for yourself soon, when I post the clip. (And I’ll finally post the horrible, embarrassing, ‘shit, I forgot my material‘ clip from last Sunday at the All Asia, too; at least now it won’t be the last active link on the list. Pee-fricking-yew.)
But none of that’s really the point, exactly. The point is what happened after the show, as my wife and I were waiting to pay at the parking garage. We were standing in line, when two vaguely familiar-looking women walked past. And one of them, wondrous benevolent siren that she was, looked right at me and said,
‘Hey, there’s that comedian guy!‘
Wow. Nobody’s ever said that to me before.
I smiled, mainly to buy a little time to find the appropriate witty response. I’m a ‘comedian guy’, after all, right? Eventually, I came up with, wittily enough:
‘Wow. Nobody’s ever said that to me before.‘
Fricking genius, I am. George Carlin, eat your heart out. I am the king of witty repartee.
Not wanting to leave it at just that, I decided to add:
‘Well, except maybe my mom, when I was trying to get away with shit.‘
No, that’s not particularly witty, either. I do think I deserve a few points for the image of a mother, tsking and scolding a young boy with, ‘What are you, some kind of comedian?‘
But I also lose a few dozen points for the confused look that put on the woman’s face. She was still smiling, sort of, but I’m not sure what I said made any particular bit of sense. Nor am I completely certain that the woman — who looked to be a couple, but not many, years older than I — wasn’t thinking that I’d just suggested she could be my mother. Or something. I don’t know. I’m no good at actually talking to people; why the hell would I write this crap and do standup if I knew how to act in real social situations, anyway?
So, I’ll say now what I should have said then:
‘Wow, thanks! That’s pretty cool, actually being called a comedian!‘
And no, that’s not witty, either, but goddammit, it doesn’t have to be. Even if the lady was just saying it to be nice — and that’s almost certainly the case — it was pretty damned cool. We comics congratulate each other all the time, but none of us really mean it. And my wife tells me, ‘Good job!‘ after each show, but really, it’s in the contract — she has to. For a perfect stranger to take the time to say something, anything nice like that — well, it’s times like those that I wish I didn’t put my foot in my damned mouth every time I open my yapper.
But I do, and I did, more or less, and so here we are. I doubt that the woman who walked past me last night will ever read this, but if she does, I just wanted her to know that she made my night. And my day so far, and probably most of the rest of the week, as well. Maybe someday now I’ll earn that compliment, and actually become the kind of comedian who gets recognized after a show once in a while.
And maybe by that point, I’ll have figured out what the hell to say when it happens. Meh.Permalink | 3 Comments