So I’m sitting down at the Continental Breakfast on Sunday morning before I leave to drive back home. While eating, another table with 2 couples at it say to me they loved the show the night before. They then proceeded to bring up things I had forgotten happened. They were laughing and telling me how they would be talking about the show for weeks. The reason I started this blog was that I forget too much of what happens at individual gigs because details start to fade as I do week after week on the road. 15 years of the comedy grind will do that to a person.
Listening to them I started to think, though, how I don’t value enough my life as a standup comedian. While almost everyone lives the same life day in and day out, I go to a different city each week and sometimes a different city each day. Some of the things that happen to me on-stage would be Top 10 stories for most people in their lives, while most of these same stories wouldn’t even crack my Top 100. I rip some of the elements of my job, but overall, it’s a pretty amazing way to make a living. It is the reason so many chase the standup life, despite such astronomical odds.
The show the 2 couples had been at was the late show at the Joke Joint in St. Paul last Saturday. As I stated in yesterday’s post, it was a challenging first show, so I was hoping that the 2nd would be a little easier. A couple comedian friends of mine (Todd Andrews and Tom Steffen) had stopped in to see me and to catch my set, so I wanted to have a good show in front of them. I feel more pressure to do well in front of comedians that I respect more than family or friends. These are my peers, so I don’t want to have one of those awkward talks that you have with another comedian after a bad show.
Right before the show I saw a potential problem. A couple of the audience members went on-stage and stood behind the mic like they were comedians. Even though the stage isn’t roped off, I see that stage as a place only for the comedians. I don’t even like people to put their feet up on it.
My favorite story on this subject was when I featured for Greg Fitzsimmons last summer as I had the week off and I’m a big fan. One night some douche with flip-flops had his legs stretched out and feet resting on the stage. Greg asked the guy to take his feet off the stage. He was ignored. Greg then picked up the mic stand and said he was going to slam it down on his foot if he didn’t move it. The guy said go ahead. Greg is a guy you don’t want to fuck with. He is filled with lots of testosterone. Down the mic stand came slamming down with the guy just barely pulling his foot away in time. The mic stand broke. Most people thought he had went a little too far. I totally understood, as I too, get a little too amped up sometimes on-stage. You could say I’ve got a little of that Charlie Sheen Tiger blood.
So I was on high alert watching these desecrat-ers of my stage. Early on during the set, I discovered it was one of these 2’s birthday. It is interesting to me that some adults think that when it’s their birthday it gives them the right to act like a jackass. The guy yelled out something to me and I hit him back. I then said it’s your birthday, you don’t want to go down this road to which he responded with YOU STARTED IT. Now that made me laugh. I had to ask him if he was 6 years old in the backseat of the station wagon. That seemed to put the birthday boy on my side.
Moving on, I have a bit where I ask the audience who gets drug tested. One guy raised his hand, so I asked him what does he do? With perfect dry timing the he offered back, What kind of drugs do I use? The audience roared and I just stood there and then let the laugh happen. This is a good lesson to younger comics. If an audience member says something really funny, don’t try to step on their laugh. Your number 1 goal is to have the audience have a great time. If someone else helps you with that, all the better is my motto. So back to my drug test guy. I explained to him that I was asking what he did for a living. He said he was an accountant. My reply to that was that I think considering how boring that job is he deserves drugs to make it more interesting.
So I think the show is going well when I have a disturbance back at the birthday table. Birthday boy is fine, but the woman who had went up on the stage was talking loudly. I asked her if she had a problem I could help her with and she said her problem was that I wasn’t funny. GASP. OK, if you want to know the worst thing you can say to a comedian, You are not funny tops the list. When I’m on stage I would rather be called a child molester. Even if the audience is on your side, these words make them feel sorry for you. That is not a good emotion for your audience to have. It’s hard to get a room back when this is uttered.
Over the past few years, when I have a tough crowd I will often lay on the stage and pretend I’m having a nervous breakdown. I start to quietly list all the things that are bothering me about the show. Well, after this comment I decided it was as good as time as any to pull this stunt. I begin to list the litany of problems I have with this show from getting booked in Minnesota in February to drug tested accountants to birthday boys who behave like they are 6 years old. Then I pulled out the big gun.
And then I have this chick in the back who doesn’t think I’m funny. A total bitch if you spell bitch starting with the letter C.
Total knockout. No need to give a count. The fight is over. And still comedy champion. Scott Long. From that point I had the crowd (well except one woman) in my back pocket. Now there were other exciting things that happened. Let’s just say that I might have to rethink my clothing instincts (see Straight Eye for the Standup Guy). The cowboy shirt I’m wearing in the photo above created quite a mixed feeling. I made a joke about it and a couple audience members mentioned how they did not like it. A couple others said they loved it. Then one woman told me I should take it off. Going along with the wild show I was part of I went along with her suggestion and took it off. Then I did a couple minutes without the shirt and then put it back on to close my show.
So now that I have listed just some of the highlights from this particular show I do get why it was such the talk at the Best Western Dakota Ridge continental breakfast. It was a memorable night. It might have been a little stressful, but it is cool to have a job that can be this exhilarating.