Thursday, September 9, 2010

Got Balls? (Part 3)

I was standing in the back of the room, unable to think straight, when the woman running the place came over and told

me we were starting in a few minutes. She said the audience was packed with high school wrestling parents. They were having a benefit at the club that night. She wanted me to talk them up. Immediately a joke popped into my head about wrestlers, but I was questioning myself. Am I funny? Is that a good joke, or will it be insulting? Should I say that? Second guessing yourself equals death.

I was interrupted by the Headliner who started to give me advice. It was similar to the Middle’s advice about being myself. I nodded my head and said, “Thanks.” But all I wanted to do was run. I needed to get it together.There was a minute to spare, so I ran into the bathroom. I locked the door and gave myself the "bathroom chat." I looked

at myself in the mirror and said out loud, “You are funny. Fuck last night. You can do this.” Then whenever I talk to myself in a mirror, it makes me laugh, so I started laughing. I heard the music playing, and I ran out.

I was introduced, and I ran up on stage. I stopped thinking about my tight jeans, the old bastard, last night, everything. All I could focus on was the crowd. The energy was amazing. The place was packed. These people had come for a show. I grabbed the mike. And I decided to go for it.

I said, “I’m your MC tonight. I heard there are some parents in the audience.” They clapped. “And your kids are wrestlers?” They clapped and cheered. It was about half the audience of probably 200 people. I said, “You must be so proud of your sons...those anorexic faggots.” The audience exploded. “They’re always spitting in a cup, trying to make weight. Popping boners the entire match. This is a sport? I’m so sorry your sons wrestle. How upsetting for you.” More laughs.

It was a good show for me. I could’ve read the dictionary, and they would’ve stayed with me. Once they like you, they’re yours. After I got off stage, the energy was high. I set up the other two comics for success. That’s the MC’s job, and I had done what I needed to do. The other two comics killed. The show was amazing. It was just what I needed.

When the show was done, I was getting my stuff together to leave. The Middle and Headliner came over to me. The Middle said, “I couldn’t believe when you said that thing about the wrestlers. I died laughing.” The Headliner agreed, “I don’t know if I would’ve said that. Nice job up there. You’ve got balls.”

The woman running the club had complimented my job, and that made me happy because I knew my manager would get a good report. But compliments from comics are scarce. They meant more to me. I wanted to hug both of them. I wanted to tell them about what happened the night before. I wanted to tell them how relieved I was that it had gone over, and that I had a good show. But I didn’t know these guys, and we were talking about balls now. So I smiled and said, “Thanks. See ya around.” And me and my new set of very big balls walked out, happy to be back.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Got Balls? (Part 2)

Can you say bomb? I looked out into the crowd, and with my confidence frozen, I just went through the motions. And the audience knew. They smelled the fear. The uneasiness in my voice. The hesitation. The joyless performance. And they hated me. And I knew it. Only making each word and attempt worse and worse by the second. It was my worst show ever. When I came off stage, I got some applause, but I knew I did horribly. I was so deflated.

When you do a two-person show, and you’re first, you just do your set, bring up the next guy and then you leave. As I was leaving, I heard the nut job comic’s first joke. It was all about getting pussy. Misogynistic bastard. I was sure he hadn’t been near a pussy in decades, but the laughter he got from the audience killed me.

I called my manager the next day and told him what happened. He totally understood because that comic had trouble working with women in the past. He apologized for sending me out on a show with him. Apparently the comic had recovered from cancer and had convinced people he was a different person. Totally changed by almost dying. If this was his “new” attitude after cancer, I can’t imagine what he must’ve been like before.

My manager said he’d never book me with him again and asked if I wanted to work a club that night. I wanted to stay home with the shades down, never to show my face again, but I knew that was the wrong answer. I said yes. It was an MC spot out in NJ. The comic who worked the night before canceled for this night, so I got it.

It’s the next night after the big bombing/losing of my balls episode. And my jeans were too tight. During the day, I called up other comics to talk about what happened. One of my female comic friends told me she’d seen comics cry from that guy. He was famous for this kind of shit. She said, “The funnier you get, the more things like that will happen to you.” Something to look forward to.

They finally opened the doors to the room we would be performing in at the club that night. It was me and two other guys. I looked up to the stage and saw the steps. I breathed a sigh of relief. At least I knew I could get up on the stage. One worry down. One more to go.

The two other guys working the show seemed nice. In every show there’s an MC, a Middle, and a Headliner. The MC warms up the crowd and sets the tone. The Middle, which is considered the best spot because it has the least amount of pressure, usually just does his material. The Headliner is the real pro and brings it all home. As the MC, I got to start. Basically, I’m the sacrificial lamb. Nobody knows how the crowd will be until the first comic gets up there. There’s always an energy you can feel, but still who the fuck knows?

It was fitting because that’s what I was the night before. The sacrificial lamb. I let that guy take his anger out on me. He got off on it. It made him funnier. By putting me down, he lifted himself up. Then I bombed. He then saved the day. His confidence, even if his jokes sucked, put the crowd at ease. He hit a home run before he spoke his first word. That shit was not going to happen tonight.

The Middle came over to me and introduced himself. He said, “We’ve never met, but you seem really nice. Let me give you some pointers...” And then he started giving me advice. Relax. Just do your material. Have fun. Be yourself. I wasn’t sure if he was doing that because I was giving this “fearful” vibe and I seemed new, or because this is what he did all the time. I almost wanted him to think I was new in case I bombed again. But that was wrong thinking. I barely listened while he talked, because I was so inside my head about doing the show. Why the fuck did I take this gig?


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Got Balls? (Part 1)

It was a Saturday night. I was out of sorts. And there were a few things going on. I hadn’t done laundry for weeks, so I hated the jeans I was wearing. They were too tight. Sometimes there’s a few steps to get up to the stage, and other times there’s no steps and you’d have to practically jump to get on stage to perform comedy. I wasn’t in the room yet, but I was hoping there were steps. In these jeans, I didn’t know if I could take a huge leap onto the stage. It might be hard.

You never want to be awkward getting on and off the stage as a comedian. You’d look like an idiot. But more importantly, you never want to show fear. If my jeans rip on my ass, or I trip getting up on stage, I’m going to be fearful. As a comic, fear is your enemy. It will only hurt you. Your job is to make people laugh, and nobody laughs if you’re afraid. They can’t. So you can’t show fear. If you do, you’ll be eaten alive.

So if you’re not showing fear then there’s only one other thing you could possibly be showing. Balls. If you’re a comic, you have to have balls. It’s just how it goes. Inherently, if you do comedy, I’d say you have them. Think about it. You’re on a stage by yourself trying to make people laugh. It’s so vulnerable, and it takes some balls to do it. But the next question is: how big are they?

Because let’s face it, you want to have the biggest. This is America. Bigger is always better. If you’re a girl, and I might be biased, but I’d say you have big balls. It’s a big bullshit boys’ club in the stand-up comedy world. Whenever I worked with new comics, there was an unspoken comparison of ball size every show.

And at the gig the night before, I basically lost my balls. The night before was easily the worst show, and experience in comedy, I’d ever had. And trust me, I’d had some shitty experiences. The night before was one of those nights that was hard to explain. But there I was, getting up again, less than 24-hours later, wearing very tight jeans and hoping I would be able to get on stage. It wasn’t because I wanted to perform. It was because I needed to get my balls back. Quickly.

The night before, my manager had booked me a gig at a private party in Long Island. It was going to be a two-man show, and he wanted me to do a good job. The booker, who had set up the show, was going to be there, and if I did well that night, it would mean more

gigs. I was psyched. I loved doing comedy out in Long Island.

The gig was at a restaurant in a private room. When I talked to the wait staff and told them who I was, they took me to this back room and told me to order some food. This guy started talking to me. He had been sitting there shoveling food down. I figured he worked at the restaurant and was on his break. We chatted, and it all seemed nice enough. He told me how he was this big actor and really loved acting. He was an older guy and was sorta braggy, but I acted interested. Typical waiter story, right? I told him I was working the private party and was one of the comics performing that night, and then asked him if he had ever done stand up comedy.

And that’s when the shit storm started. The guy stood up and started screaming. “I’m the fucking headliner tonight! Don’t you know who I am? Who the fuck do you think you are talking to me like that? You fucking bitch!” And it went on like that for at least ten minutes. This guy went on a crazy tirade. Rage times a thousand. Baked ziti was flying out of his mouth as he cursed and screamed. The kitchen staff ran out to see what the hell was going on. And from me? Silence. I was at a loss for words. I just stood there and took it.

I had tried to smooth it over and explain that I didn’t know he was a comic because he was talking about acting, but he wouldn’t even let me speak. In my entire life, I’ve never let anyone talk to me like that, but I was in shock. I actually let this guy go off on me without a word back. He cursed me. Insulted me. Wished me dead. I finally just went outside for a minute.

Shaken to the core, I tried to get myself together. I was about to call one of my best friends, who was also a comic, when one of the waiters came out and told me I was about to go on. Ball-less and out of sorts, I walked inside and started the show.