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?
TO BE CONTINUED...