Ah, funny how fickle this standup thing is. Saturday night we're opening up a show to an overstuffed house, the next night I'm standing on a box in the back of Beauty Bar trying to be louder than the DJ in the front who likes to drown out the comics. The audience is four people (three of whom are Irish) and a few comics in the back. And it's like trying to lift something way too fucking heavy.
One lesson learned: If your audience is mostly foreigners, X out your jokes that have pop culture references for punchlines before you get onstage. I started two jokes only to realize that 3/4 of the audience was gonna have no idea what I was talking about when I got to the end. Whoops.
And I realized afterwards I actually had a great bit to pull out in that situation (my Scott Baio vs. Brits thing). Always painful when you get offstage and then realize exactly what joke you shoulda told.
Back when I was doing more club shows, I prob woulda handled it better. You get used to tourists in clubs. Actually, that's a real problem with doing mostly alternative rooms: Ya get accustomed to completely homogeneous audiences. Can be a dangerous thing if you want to be funny to all kinds of people.
It's one problem I have with shows in, say, Williamsburg. They're often well attended but you're usually performing for exclusively W'burg hipsters. That's fine and all but I'd rather have a wider cross-section in the audience. Manhattan is a hub so shows there get a better mix of people from uptown, Brooklyn, Queens, the 'burbs, etc.
Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email email@example.com.
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