Ah, back to reality. Did a dive bar gig in Jersey City last night.
I went up first. I opened and thought riffing would work. Not so. Heckling starts right away. ("GET OFF!") Worst of all, I couldn't even understand most of what they were yelling so couldn't comment back. So went to material. Got 'em back but it was a power through set.
Then some Jersey City guys. Loved this riff from one of 'em: There's a guy upfront with a handlebar mustache. Then a second guy with a handlebar mustache walks in from the back and yells out, "I'm here for the jokes." Comic looks at him, looks at the guy in the front, and then goes, "I can't believe you guys found room to park both your hot air balloons outside." Crowd loses it.
After a few more comics, Mark Normand goes up last. By then, the entire dynamic of the room shifted. Material wouldn't fly at all. So he just riffed. And it was maybe my favorite set I've ever seen him do. Rickles-style. ("This is the ugliest audience I've ever seen.") Just shits on the room and everyone in it for over 20 minutes. And they loved it.
He went after one guy in a NASCAR-looking jacket with lots of Dale Earnhardt cracks ("You've got a lot of keys. Don't you guys usually go through the window?"). There was a 50/50 chance of a physical altercation at one point. Dude moved up and started giving attitude back. And so did his friend. Turns out the seemingly really angry guy was a good sport but it was pretty touch and go there for a bit. At the end, people came up to Mark and started hugging him. Don't think I've ever seen people so happy to be insulted before. Good times.
Mark's comment on it: "What's funny is all that riffing I was doing came from doing mics. People shit on mics. But if I got that from them, I can't complain."
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.
From sold out shows in Austin to a dive bar gig in Jersey City
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