Last night I left the comforts of solitude to participate in Open Mic Night at The Comedy Underground. My last open mic (almost a year ago at The Velveeta Room in Austin, Texas) proved tragic: I went onstage late and shitfaced, bitched about T-Mobile and forgot all my jokes, and pissed off at least two people because I couldn’t figure out how to get back to Miranda’s house. I can’t say that’s the main reason I’ve been away, but it sounds like a good one, so I’m using it.
I had to get to the club early to sign up, so there was some chill-time before the show. I talked to some other comics, who were quick to inform me of their experience and other comedy-related stuff going on in the area. Someone gave me free tickets to Laff Hole at Chop Suey! Although a whopping $5 value apiece, they were a nice gesture to a strange girl who just appeared out of nowhere.
One emcee and 26 comics performed that night, but things moved relatively fast. After the first few acts, I was appropriately intimidated. These bastards were fucking funny! I was really surprised that the level of quality was consistently better than the bringer shows at Caroline’s on Broadway in New York. Bringer shows at bigger clubs like that are considered a cut above open mics where punks like me can just walk in and sign up. Bringer shows involve planning, schmoozing, and coercing, and even then, a club owner could be a real dick and not let you perform.
The open mics I’ve seen in New York were very mixed concerning talent and stage experience. Here, a few people brought notebooks, but most people had everything memorized down to the perfect hand gestures. You could run for office on an independent ticket with all the confidence swirling around in that club.
Most of the comics were relatively young. Per usual, the male:female ratio was about 7:1. My fellow bitches consisted of two Jews and a black girl. Also pretty standard. The funniest one predictably talked about being a big fat Jew, the other Jew was less ostentatious but still good, and the black girl, while her energy was amazing, told period jokes. As in menstruation. Shocking, sure. But I was more grossed out than humored.
Someone busted out a Heath Ledger joke and pulled it off pretty well. There were a few misogynists who ended up being pretty funny. People talked about sex on a level that left me slightly disheartened with the non-edgy material I planned to share. And a bunch of people talked about their divorces.
Then, they called me up… early! I figured I would perform second-to-last, since I came alone and they had no reason to bump me to a better slot, but someone did a little rearrangin’. No matter; this opened me up for a great proximal joke. “The Industry” may have already coined a term for this type of situation, but a proximal joke (in my warped imaginary world of sparkly colors) is one made fitting to tell only by that particular night’s previous comics and events.
So when my name was called, I ran up to the stage screaming, “I’m coming I’m coming I’m coming I’m coming I’m coming!!” I grabbed the mic and said, “Like half the people here, I’m also divorced so it’s been a long time since I’ve said that.” Everyone laughed. I should have just ended there.
I brought my notebook, just so I’d have a lineup. Even when sober, I have a habit of forgetting which jokes I want to tell. I talked about some Seattle stuff, but most of my topics were a little New Yorkish. I need to write new stuff. (For those of you saying, “So do it,” give it a try yourself. Writing clever, concise jokes to tell in front of a live audience is hard.)
So, I was on the weak end of the scale in terms of relatability, but I didn’t bomb and I’m going to Chop Suey tomorrow, so the night was a success. I might try going onstage again, but not for a few weeks. I think I should start recording my rants and somehow make them funny, since that’s what everyone seems to expect when they look at me.
I could get into a whole rant about how fickle audiences are when you don’t give them what they expect, but I wouldn’t be able to use it. Dissing the audience is retarded no matter how you do it.