Eating a Big Turd On-Stage

This is a photo from a better night. No photos will be taken of tonight's comedic abortion.

Let me start by telling you the state I’m in right now.  I’m shaking a little, I’ve got a buzz on and I feel depressed.  Good place to start, right?  I just finished doing a corporate event where I stood up onstage for an hour and hardly got any laughs. The back of the room was deafening because they had no interest in watching.  It was the kind of show where you feel totally depressed when walking off-stage.

Now why am I sharing this?  It’s probably stupid, but I try to be honest about what it is like to be a working comic.  A comic friend of mine accused me recently of trying to spin stuff on this blog.  Yeah, how dare me try to portray myself in a good light?  When no other comic I know writes anything about any of his shows.  Fuck you, former friend.  I’ve talked about dying a horrible death on-stage a couple times at this site and I rarely discuss good stuff because I know that is not interesting.  I hadn’t bombed in the past 3 months, but a corporate event in the Mid-South where they had never had entertainment and had no interest in it was the remedy for wrecking a lot of my confidence.

So I sit here about as despondent as a person can get.  The only big laughter I got was when I would pick on someone in the audience.  I do a lot of corporate events and have great feedback on them, so I know how to do them well.  Tonight there seemed to be nothing I could say except playing Don Rickles Jr. to get them interested.  When you are in a huge convention center that is tough to do, as you the microphone cord only goes so far.

(more time laying on the couch) When people are surveyed and asked what is the hardest thing they could imagine doing, public speaking is the number 1 answer.  (remember this if you are ever on Family Feud) I’ve been making a decent living doing standup for the past 15 years, so I know I have the goods.  Having said that, when I get an audience who responds only every couple minutes I feel like never doing it again.  I’m very in the moment as a comedian, so I tell the audience this. I’m not one of these comedy robots who does the same show night after night.  I acknowledge the situation and acknowledge the pain I’m feeling.  I laid down onstage and told them I knew they would be discussing the nervous breakdown the comedian had last night.  (My pain of course did bring big laughs.)

I have never been happier with my act, as it is filled with real pain and angst, but has been doing great with the audience. Instead of talking about comic book characters and unicorns, I’ve been sharing really personal stuff that has really connected with the audience.  It has worked great at corporates, until tonight.  I swear to anyone deity listening that I would quit comedy if I had another show like this. Unlike some comics, my psyche is not built to bomb.  My psyche is not built to hear people walk by me after the show and say “good try” or “tough crowd, huh?”

At one point I was discussing how I appreciated the audience tonight because I’ve been killing every night lately and I was getting a fat head, so they had done a good job of putting me back in my place.  One guy in the back (of the redneck variety) started yelling at, “come on man, you are funny, be yourself!”  Now I told him I appreciated my friend’s pick me up.  I appreciated that I had a comedy life coach in the back giving me advice like he was Tony Robbins trying to get me to Awaken the Giant Within.  He had no understanding of being sarcastic or being neurotic which I’m guessing serves him well.  The audience of course enjoyed this, but then he told me had to get up and take a cigarette break.  I replied tonight is making me think of taking up the habit.

So after the show my comedy coach tells me that I need to be myself.  You know, like Chris Rock.  He gives me some other drunken advice.  Now, my head is spinning already, so it just seemed perfect that some nitwit was going to give myself who has been doing standup for 20 years advice on what I need to do to connect with an audience.  I just listened, as I figured it was part of penance for taking a big check for the show I did tonight.  There were other people around laughing at him (and me as well), when he told me that this was just for my ears.  He then cupped his hands and whispered in my ear “Jesus is the way. All things are better through believing in Christ.”  I realized it probably was the WAY for him, as he didn’t feel conflicted with angst and self-doubt.  Jesus was going to be there for him at the end.  If my mind could only believe in things that don’t exist I could be in such a good place, as well!

Now I don’t believe in signs from God, but I did believe in things can’t get much worse at this point, so I apologized for not doing better to the great guy who hired me and I made the walk of shame to my car.  I wish I was wearing heels, holding a purse with panties hanging from it, and looked completely disheveled because I felt like a college girl who had just stumbled out of fraternity house after participating in a pledge week gangbang.

This is one of the ways I make my living.  Sounds pretty great, right?  If only the Discovery Channel would have sent Mike Roe out to tape a spectacular episode of Dirty Jobs.  This is one of the 3 worst shows I’ve ever had in my comedy career.  I thought I was past having a show go this badly, but it happened.  You want the truth unvarnished. Here it is.  I sit in my hotel room depressed and dejected.  I’m not a big drinker but I slammed 5 shots in a 5 minute period then left for my hotel room.  I know the clouds will lift and I know from my track record this was an aberration, but right now I feel super low.  I hope my friend with the generic website that only has his schedule and a few cherry-picked clips feels better that I’ve brought some honesty to my site.  I am going to leave it at this, as I want to send an email to the great guy who had the faith in booking me for this event after watching my clips and seeing all the great comments I had gotten from other corporate clients.  I guess the plus for him is he won’t have to plan the company event next year.

The only bright spot is that I had been listening on the drive down to this gig the book on CD of George Carlin’s Last Words.  He discussed doing a show where he ate it at a Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and had been canned by the management there.  Carlin recalled that after this show he drove the 90 miles down to Hef’s pad (at the time Hef still lived in Chicago) and told Hef about it who was at the time playing pinball with Bill Cosby.  I promise you I’m not hanging with Hef and the Cos in my Microtel Hotel room, but it was good timing that I heard a story about the greatest comic in history having nights where he bombed as well. This is not an easy way to make a living.

So remember. COMEDY RULES!!!

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4 thoughts on “Eating a Big Turd On-Stage

  1. Any comic who claims they’ve never had a night like the one you just experienced – is either completely delusional or an outright liar. For whatever reason, you just didn’t “connect” tonight. It happens. (Thankfully, with experience like our’s – it happens extremely infrequently!) Get some sleep, Scott – tomorrow is a new day! You’re funny. Period. (But, you already KNOW that…) Zzz’s await! G’night.

    1. Thanks Mark. You are right. I’m writing this blog to take the mystery off of standup comedy. I want to be able to look back on it someday and have a better understanding of all the different things I’ve felt after shows. I am going to bed.

  2. Scott, There are nights of DJ’n that I swear the people have never heard music before! Nothing will make then move. Then 20 minutes before my end time..you guessed it..requests and dancing like there’s no tomorrow! Drives me crazy. Your talking about it will help you.

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