Too many comics don’t understand the importance of lighting. The first time you hit a stage, the brightness of the light is the first thing that hits you. From that point on I believe a lot of comics see the lighting as an enemy, instead of the friend it actually is. Here’s a good example of this.
Last year I was at a club where the feature act ate it the whole weekend. Now his material wasn’t great, but what really killed him was that he stood on the side of the stage most of the time he performed. The club doesn’t have great lighting to begin with but where he stood had him practically in the dark. It was like he had JoBeth Williams’ voice in his head saying “Stay away from the Light!” (And no, this comic’s first name isn’t Carrie Ann.)
Live standup comedy is about connecting with your audience. If they can’t see your facial expressions they are missing one vital element of the experience. If they just want to hear funny jokes, they would sit at home and listen to a comedy CD.
I always watch some of my opening acts so I get a feel for what their material is like, so I don’t step on the same topics. Another reason I watch as I want to see where the best place for me to stand so my face is going lit onstage. I know that when you are the first person up that night, this is hard to do, so I would just suggest to walk around a little bit at the beginning of your set and stay in an area where the light is most uncomfortable to your eyes. That uncomfortable sensation in your eyes will mean you are in the brightest light.
If you are in a Metal band, you are going to have to risk permanent hearing loss for your art. In standup comedy, some long-term vision impairment will probably be the trade-off for baring your soul to strangers, year after year.