Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Portrait of a Crappy Gig

Hey there 'Redheads... I haven't got much for you for this installment. No cute baby pictures, no funny videos, not even a decent amount of charming self-deprecation. I wanted to get a blog in before I hit the road for the Funny Farm in Youngstown, Ohio. It'll be my first road gig in about a month, and I'll be happy to knock the rust off. Next week, it'll be back to the Baltimore Comedy Factory to work with one of my all-time favorites, T-Rexx. Do yourself a favor and come check out one of these shows...he's fuckin' hilarious...I'm okay too. And my good buddy, who recently shipped off to L.A., Adam Jacobs, will be back in town to host. Top to bottom, it'll be a great weekend.

Now, you may've noticed the title of the blog. That portrait was snapped last Friday at a one-nighter on Maryland's eastern shore. It hit for the cycle of crappiness: an audience unaware of the show, a sound system that made Stephen Hawking sound like Josh Groban, and it was the venue's first stab at comedy. Like every black cloud, this one came with a silver lining which was the headliner I worked with. Michael Dean Ester, a cool guy who's been doing this for 15 years and did his damndest to breathe some life into a dead on arrival gig. He described it best in his response to my email thanking him for his effort...


Like I said, it will make a great story someday. If there's a lesson in Friday night, it's that standup comedy doesn't work as surprise entertainment. You can't drop a comedy show on an unsuspecting crowd. So, sometimes comics have to grab people by the short hairs to make them listen, then we can entertain them. That's all I did. Somebody taught me a long time ago: Never let the crowd get away with not laughing at a joke. You have to call them on it, especially when your stuff is good. And your writing is strong. Unfortunately, the situation was stupefyingly awful. Nobody wanted to give the show the benefit of the doubt at first. So you have to leave them no choice. Refuse to be ignored and your confidence will win them over. Neither of us would be there if we weren't professionals, but the audience didn't necessarily come for comedy, so we have to work that much harder to make them listen. Once they're listening, only then can we get a damn laugh.

By the way, I saw the booker in person on Saturday night and I told him what's what. He did send a promo package with pix and posters to the club, but the dingbat manager didn't bother to put them up anywhere (hence the surprise show).

The moral of the story: We blazed a trail, my friend. We suffered the slings and arrows of an outrageously shitty road gig so that others who follow may have an easier time and keep the room alive for the next time we go back and collect a paycheck.

All in a day's work.

To be continued...

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