As you may have heard, Thursday night I did some open mic stand-up comedy at Snickerz Comedy Bar here in Ft Wayne. It was a packed house; there were about 350-400 people in the audience and I had a blast. I asked my good friend and co-writer Doney to help me review some of the jokes I was considering a few days beforehand and that was a huge help to have that input from someone I trusted and respected.
I was given five minutes and was first up to bat. Opening act. Yikes. In the five minutes I basically did 4 different premises. The first one went all right. It was a bit on a political ad Morgan Freeman did. The second one, about someone claiming separating kids by gender was racial discrimination, did OK and then took a big nosedive toward the end. For some reason I changed the ending of the joke on the spot and it was kind of like a football player bobbling the ball, trying to keep control, and eventually dropping it. I could feel everyone in the room being nervous for me and that in itself was cool. I felt like a Jedi.
I paused briefly and took a page from what I learned at the National Comedy Theatre in New York: Be cocky. Not an arrogant cocky but just an air of confidence. Freakin' own it. If you get up there and the audience can sense you're nervous or unsure of yourself, you're dead. But if you get up there and act cocky like you know what you're doing, let them know they can relax because you have everything under control, then it's a different ballgame. And I decided to get cocky. I came up with a joke about 45 minutes earlier at my apartment that I thought was pretty funny and decided to scrap my previously planned Joke #3 and go with my gut, grow a pair, and get cocky.
I delivered the joke like I knew it was funny. I knew it was going to be the best joke they ever heard. Even though I didn't. I hoped it was. I thought it was. But I had never told it to anyone, never ran it past anyone; I just had a feeling.
I am glad to report it killed. The contrast from the reaction to Joke #2 (uncomfortable silence) to Joke #3 (a room of 350 people suddenly bursting out into a huge laughter that made me pause for a short bit until it died down) was the coolest thing in the world.
Joke #4 was able to stay on that same level as #3 and I was glad to end my set on a very high note. Afterward some people told me they wished I had been able to go on longer and that's just how you want it. Leave 'em wanting more. So that was very cool indeed.
Of course, being the tortured artist I am, I have spent the majority of the couple of days replaying the joke that bombed instead of the ones that went well. I once heard a comedian (I forget who) say they might get 100 emails and 99 of them will be emails like "You're so funny, you're so awesome, great job" and 1 email will be "You suck." Even though that's only 1 of 100, the negative email is the one that will be remembered. And that's true for me. Weird, huh?
I bought one of those portable audio recorders to record my set so I could use it to review and tweak my performance. After the night I got in the car and was extremely annoyed to find it didn't record anything. Not a thing. Of course, it worked perfectly before the show and even afterward, but not during. I spent my drive home recording an incredibly insane message, yelling at the recorder. I was going to post it on my page for your enjoyment, but the feature to post audio has been removed. If you'd like to hear an audio clip of excerpts from that rant drop me a line and I'll email it to ya.
Of the few hundred people that were in attendance that night I figure about 35 of them were buddies of mine who came out, which was very cool indeed. Mom and Jeff brought like 10 of their friends, including expert photographer Michael Schnee. Dad and Patsy brought a few friends as well. Cousins Glen and Suzie were there, and Uncle Rick, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Emma. From the boxing club Jeremy, Dave, Jerry, Walker, and Kyle showed up. Even a couple of ladies from the local bank were there to cheer me on (come on, you can't get much more small-town than that, but dammit it was great to have them there). Rob and LeeAnne were there which was very cool indeed. I know LeeAnne mostly from MySpace and I think last night was only like the 2nd time we actually hung out (including the 4th of July when I ate a burger near her) so it was very encouraging to see them there. My brother Ray was able to leave an event in Auburn early in time to make it. That meant a lot as well, because he's the person who makes me laugh the most. It was nice to return the favor.
I called Snickerz the next day to book a time at the next available open mic. It's such a rush; the coolest high in the world. That was my largest audience to date and I had so much fun. I'll keep you posted and again, while I wait for the audio clip feature to come back, let me know if you want me to email you my angry rant at my audio recorder (which, for some reason, I chose to do entirely in an English accent).