Sunday, September 24, 2006

Requiescat in pace

I died.

But I enjoyed it. Weird, huh? Here's what happened:

I get there at about 10:00. A pair of comic magicians or something like that -- from Las Vegas, no less -- is performing. The place is packed with about 200 people, and they're pretty into the show. I meet my contact, who is straight out of a pretty funny Seinfeld episode, because she has a Chinese last name but she's as blonde-haired and blue-eyed as I am. (Or as I used to be, back when I had hair. On my head, I mean.) She's a nice young woman, but I'm a little disappointed, because as you may have guessed, I have a touch of the Yellow Fever (also Jungle Fever, Salsa Fever, Gumbo Fever, Vanilla Fever… I'm just generally feverish, I guess. But I digress.) So that show ends at 10:05. Someone gets up and announces that the next show will start at 10:30. So the 200 people turn into 5 people.

I hang around for awhile, and meet my MC Nicole, who isn't Chinese either. I check out the view from stage. It's just a portable stage set up in one of the student union's dining rooms, so the lights are turned way up, which I don't like. Comedy usually works best in a dark room with the comic in a spotlight. I hang around "backstage" (behind a curtain) and meet Mike, one of the comic magicians, who's putting his equipment away. He's seems like a nice guy -- nice enough to leave me alone so I can psych myself up or whatever. I go through my usual "Why am I doing this? I just wanna go home now" pre-set mental routine. I don't go home. Ten-thirty rolls around, and the 5 people have turned into 10. Nicole says let's wait a few minutes. We wait about five minutes and the 10 people turn into 20. And that's it.

So Nicole hits the stage, and even though she tried out a joke on me earlier, she chickens out and doesn't say it. All she does is introduce me. There's no warm up at all. So I get up on stage and start my set.

And nobody laughs.

No, I take that back. Nicole laughs. The guys from the improv troop that's going to follow me come in about halfway through and they laugh. But the students only sort of laugh. I don't know what it is, but it's like they're too cool to laugh very much or something. Maybe it's because they can all see each other under the bright lights and they don't want to be seen losing control? No idea really. But every time they laugh it's like they're laughing in spite of themselves and they have to cut it off or something. It's pretty darn weird.

Anyway, I mostly do stuff you've read here before. The only entirely new bit is about why George W. Bush, despite Hugo Chavez, isn't really the devil. It's kind of lost on them. I do the whole repertoire. "It's not easy being big." "My confession." "Family road trip." "My Dad was cheap." "At the dentist." "Big in Japan." "Dance like a white guy." And, of course, "Mr. Happy's hat is too tight." Even that doesn't really get to them, although it seems to kill Nicole pretty good.

And that's it. I head "backstage" for awhile to recover. Mike's still there. He asks me if that's true about Japanese condoms. He commiserates with me about the lighting and the audience. The improv troop is performing. They're doing a little better -- there's five of them, and they're loud and trying to engage the audience. They're supposed to do an hour show. Good luck to them. I stop to thank Nicole and the sound guy. Nicole commiserates. She hands me my check for $100 (w00t!). I go home.


But I actually had hella fun doing that set. During the debacle at the pub last time, I wasn't having fun at all. I was bored and out of it. I was thinking maybe I'd accomplished plenty by getting paid this one time, and it's time to quit. But I was wrong. I realized again how much I enjoy getting up and performing when I'm prepared and psyched up. And I learned a lot. I learned that I was spoiled by my "graduation" audience. They were the audience of all audiences. I don't think I can ever expect one that good again. So I'm not as good as I thought I was. I mean, I think my writing's pretty good, but my performing isn't up with it. I can't walk out and dominate an audience the way some people can. Not yet. Maybe I'll never get there. But that's OK, because I'm going to keep doing this as long as it's fun and as long as some people are laughing.


  1. Maybe the reaction to your routine is further proof of the failure of the American Education System. It sounds like your humor was over their heads....haha

    BTW, have you upgraded to the Beta version of Blogger? I noticed the "labels" you have on your posts.

  2. Maybe the crowd was uneasy with the apparent lack of Chinese people.

    I, too, am feverish. I suffer from Man Fever. It's a nonspecific degenerate disease.

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  4. Ray,
    You may be on to something. They did seem to enjoy the simpler jokes more.
    Yeah, I'm on Beta, but I found out you can't use the new features for your page design without losing everything you've done to your template in HTML. It's completely stoopid. And you can't switch back, and Wordpress can't import from Beta either, so I'm stuck. Argh!

    That must be what I have too. Except the opposite. Opposite gender, not opposite temperature. Although I suppose I do have an un-fever for men, so it's the opposite tempreature when it's not the opposite gender.


What do you think?