Length: 7 minutes
Crowd: 25 people
Nice feeling last night: I flipped a room from red to black. Open mic at East Village Lounge. My first time there. The room was DONE. Two comics before me had both ventured into creepy territory. Comic yelling at MC, borderline racist/crazy stuff even. (Btw, it's a pretty good sign you're a shitty comic if, after your set, you feel the need to tell someone, "It's ok, I'm biracial.") There were eight people left upfront, the rest were in the back by the bar drinking. I was, um, "cooked" and in my don't give a shit mode. It worked.
First thing I did was call out the bizarro comics before me. "I didn't realize this was a crazy crazy open mic. All open mics are crazy. But this is one of those crazy crazy ones."
Still some loud talking in the back. I decided to get louder. "Is there a fight going on? It's comedy, let's love each other. Or laugh. Or at least stop talking." A little bitchslap to quiet 'em down. They started to pay attention.
Then I commented how open mic comics always start out with ridic premises that no one agrees with..."Remember when you first joined the priesthood?" Er, not really. "Don't you hate it when girls have sex before marriage?" Um, actually I think that's pretty cool.
And then I mentioned the funniest things I had heard so far in the night were actually reactions from the crowd. A guy onstage who was bombing said, "What, do you want me to do a trick?" And some guy in the back said, "Get circumcised." I said, "Now that's funny."
And then there was the un-punch line. Some guy onstage goes, "So when I was in college..." And a guy in the back starts laughing. But that wasn't the joke. The comic was going somewhere with it. But apparently this dude in the back found the concept that this guy had gone to college hilarious on its own.
By this point, the crowd seemed with me. Or at least relieved. I called the couple who was sitting right in front brave and said something about them being willing to sit right next to a dragon.
But then I had an interesting blank out moment where I almost lost 'em. I was doing a joke about how white people always call Barack Obama "articulate" and I sarcastically mimicked a white person saying something like, "He speaks so well for a negro!" It wasn't racist at all (making fun of racists actually) but I think subconciously my mind tripped on the fact that I just said the word "negro" in public. Like I had done something naughty. And then I just blanked out. Couldn't remember where I was supposed to go next with it. Black dude in the front row had to remind we where I was and then I hopped back on. But it was an interesting little trap door I fell into.
I then went into some of my prepared stuff, things I'm working on getting the delivery just right. Went well. I even got the back of the room paying attention and the bartenders laughing (they liked the "whores for oil" bit I've been working on).
Maybe there's some other word besides "flipped" I'm supposed to use for what happened, but that's the first time I've taken a room that negative into the positive. And I did it by being in the moment and just describing what was happening in the room. Plus, I was amusing myself. When you think something's funny and you're almost laughing while you talk about it, people are a lot more likely to give up laughs too.
Afterwards, the MC got back up and thanked me for bringing the attention back to the stage. I got handshakes and good jobs from the other comics. And on my way out, the bartender stopped me, asked me my name, and told me to come back next week. It was just a stupid open mic but I'm more proud of that set than any other I've done to date.
Permalink | 2/09/2007