The Ups and Downs of a Week at a Great Comedy Club

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Last week I was Crackers in Indy. It is one of my favorite clubs and I was looking forward to it.

Wednesday show was great with a big crowd. Thursday trumped that, as the room was nearly sold-out. With a great start to the week, I couldn’t imagine the weekend wouldn’t be even better. Well, except I knew things would have to go wrong because…

I had hired 2 different camera guys to come out and videotape the shows for a new DVD. Crackers Downtown is a great place to tape as the stage is well-lit and has a good background, plus the back wall is close to the stage. The only problem that I knew that was ahead of me was my experience has always been, if you want to mess-up a good thing, tape the show.

So I go to bed Thursday night and an hour later I wake up feeling very ill. I rush to the bathroom feeling like I’m going to throw-up. I have a bad flu. My options with this flu are to vomit or have explosive diarrhea. I went for what was BEHIND Door Number 2. When I wasn’t destroying my bathroom, I was laying in my bed in agony. I can’t see too many people who would have shown up for work, let alone having to standup up onstage for 45 minutes and entertain people, twice in 1 one night. As I have written about before, though, there is no MANPOWER agency to call. People were coming out to see me and I don’t get paid sick leave.

So I risk OD’ing on Immodium AD and hit the stage. I try not to make any quick moves and hope that the first night of video might be worthy of my investment. The first show went ok, but the 2nd show was smaller and I just bailed on trying to do a specific show for the camera. Below is a note about performing while videotaping.

When you videotape, you have the added pressure of trying to be perfect with your words and not riffing off the audience, as that doesn’t translate well to DVD. The dirty little secret is that when someone advertises they are recording a show for a new CD or DVD, it sounds more exciting, but in truth, it will be probably be a lesser show because the comic will be more cautious in their approach.

I have no idea yet how that Friday video turned out, but I’m not that optimistic. Hey, but I should be better by Saturday night, which was the night I had planned on being where the best footage would come from. So I wake up Saturday feeling a lot better, except I have laryngitis. A really bad case. I spend the whole day trying to do everything I can to aid my voice. I don’t speak, which is not easy to do when you have 3 young children. I kept drinking fluids. Going with gatorade, then tea and honey. I sat over a humidifier taking in the vapors like I was doing a perpetual bong hit. I gargled with salt water and lemon.

With all this work it enabled me to have enough voice to perform, but I still sounded really croaky. Awesome! I hire a professional guy to film my shows and I sound like Demi Moore. I do my best to sell the hell out of my bits, but I couldn’t use some of my vocal inflections as the strain it put on my throat wasn’t allowing it. Oh and did I mention that the smallest crowd we had all week was at the first show Saturday. Come On! Oh and did I mention that they sucked for the first 2 comics. You have got to be kidding!

I walk up onstage to start this show and do my opening bit which usually kicks ass. It laid there. I stopped at this point and leveled with the audience. (From my recollection) Look people, I’ve hired this guy to shoot a new comedy DVD. I am going to give it my all up here so you need to step your shit up. I then reintroduced myself, and then stepped away from the mic and started up again. It worked. They were better. I did my best.

The second show was kind of scary, because I didn’t have much left in the vocal tank. I told my camera guy that I didn’t think this show was going to be worth much and I was right, as I had to struggle mightily to croak my way through 45 minutes. It was like one of those nightmares where you have a big show and you all of sudden realize you can’t speak. The comics nightmare version of being naked in front of your class. The crowd was actually the best one of the weekend (of course, right?), but even though I got big laughs, the words were transmitted like I was Bobby Slayton with a tracheotomy.

Just another glamorous week in standup comedy. I was at my home club. I drew a lot of fans out to my shows. I had been pointing to this week for months as the one where I would get great video for my new show…and it literally and figuratively went to shit. How was I to know that the 2 biggest crowds would be Wednesday and Thursday. Not trying to be negative, but just writing the truth. The camera guys said they thought the shows were great, but I can’t get past the idea that the voice I had was not going to be the one I wanted representing me in video I put up online. I hope I’m wrong. I will keep you posted on the final verdict when I see the finished copy.

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One thought on “The Ups and Downs of a Week at a Great Comedy Club

  1. Scott- really feel for you there. I have had shows I was waiting for and they are flat too. The next show blows up to be great and fun. Go figure. You do what you can and do your best.

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