Thursday, April 20, 2006


Diary of a bad set.

When you're doing comedy, sometimes you have those nights where everything just clicks. The audience is electric, everyone's having fun, you're on fire, and the funny is just rolling off your tongue like champagne from a fountain.

Last night was not one of those nights.

At least, not for me.

And it lasted 22 minutes and 13 agonizing seconds.

Now, let me also state that overall, it was a great show and big props to Kyria and Newbs who both had great 20-25 minute sets and were a real treat to watch. And to Baron, who did his usual stellar hosting job.

As for me...

I went up first.

Right from the get-go, the crowd was not into me. No problem, I think. Plenty of time. Plenty of time. I'll win 'em over!

I start by being conversational, don't wanna just jump right into the usual a repoire with these people.

I fail at building a repoire. Okay. no problem. Let's jump into some tried and true bits, warm 'em up some more. Bam! Nothing. Do not panic.

About three minutes in, right on a dying punchline, a Chinese delivery guy mistakenly opens the door behind me to deliver food, but he's got the wrong address.

Biggest laugh of my set.

I riff on that for a minute and get some laughs. Finally, the break I need. I'm winning them over.

Nope. I was wrong. They still are not into me. They just thought the Chinese Food guy was funny.

No problem, time to step it up. I throw some political humor at them...aaaand boy, that wasn't the right call. A few chuckles, some nods of approval. But nothing I would say resembling "laughter." No worries. I can still win 'em over.

I step up my energy. I'm not backing down. I do a bit on Shaquille O'Neill. Kazzaaaaaam! A little bit of a response. Not the stellar breakthrough I was hoping for. I'M NOT WINNING THEM OVER!!!

Wow. By minute 10 I've lost my energy and by minute 15, I'm just treading water with them. I've already thrown two solid, closing bits at them (that I can usually count on for big laughs) and all I've gotten in response is general apathy. Not even hatred...they're just waiting for the next comic at this point. I've derailed, they smell blood in the water, and I've just walked into a rookie trap. I let 'em see me sweat. Dammit. I'm shaken like a Martini and there's no recovery. I look like an open miker at this point. The audience has made their decision and they just don't dig me.

At least I can leave them on a high note. The Shark Attack bit. It's a no-fail, guaranteed strong punchline to end things. At least I have that.

Here's the set-up, the pitch -


Someone chukles awkwardly in the back...and it's a comic. We all know why they're chuckling. I've just bombed for over 20 minutes. And now on with the rest of the show...

Which went phenomonally well. The next comic gets up and almost immediately starts getting bigger laughs than anything I've gotten. She's really hitting the mark. By the final comic, everyone in the audience is having a great time.

The final capper for me was not just tanking. No. In the middle of the show, an older woman leaves, and as she makes her way out, she exchanges some friendly words with Baron and shakes another comic's hand. She then specifically avoids making eye contact with me as she brushes past me like a wraith.

"Who was that?" I casually ask Baron.

"Oh, she's a college booking agent."

Not only did I chomp my dick so hard I can taste it, but I just blew an unknown opportunity! Two-for-one.

I hate being that comic, the one that had the bad set on a great show. The one everyone has to tip-toe around and either make lame excuses or simply change the subject about the evening's performance. The one that gets that look of pity and embarrasment when spoken to after the show.

Last night, I was that comic. And it sucks.

It wasn't even the worst set I've ever had or the most epic time I've bombed. It was just a plain, ordinary, bad set. And somehow, that's the worst kind of all.

As comics, we live and die from set to set, and until the next one, I get to run over in my head every mistake I made; every misstep; every poor choice; every failed, desperate attempt to win over that audience.

And the next time I have a set that crushes, I will mail each and every person that was there last night an autographed copy of the tape.

Sorry for the self-indulgence. But c'mon. This is a blog!

Catch me next week at Galapagos and Sweet Paprika! Let's see if I bounce back!