Being a celeb onstage kinda sucks

Housing Works show on Tuesday night. Packed out with hundreds of people. That's Jim Gaffigan behind the speaker trying out new bits on seafood and hotels:

Most fascinating set was Aziz Ansari's though. With Parks and Rec and Funny People, dude is really a celeb now. And it's odd to see how that impacts a standup set. He handled it well, but still...it was a real obstacle.

First off, people kept taking flash photos. To the point of distraction. And finally Aziz asked them all to take photos at once and then stop. He even offered to do a funny pose of him lashing out at an audience member so they'd have something fun to shoot. Photos continued after that, but not as bad.

Then someone yelled out "Raaaaaaaandy!" at him. He told 'em that he wasn't going to do any Raaaaaaaandy stuff though. Then he followed it up with some fun bits about mistakenly thinking he was being recognized as a celebrity when it was actually 1) someone spotting a friend named "Rodney" and 2) two girls wanting him to take their photo, not be in it. Well played again.

At the end he asked, "What do you want to hear about?" And someone yelled out, "Kanye." So Aziz went into a 5-minute bit about Kanye's recent outburst and how he got to hang with Kanye and Jay Z at club in LA and then performed standup at Kanye's home for a group of 20. Tough to make "hanging with famous people" stuff funny, but it was genuinely really funny and the crowd ate it up.

I remember Aziz doing Monday night Crash Tests at UCB in front of a few dozen people not that long ago. So seeing him get the full-on star treatment from a crowd was kinda crazy. I'm not saying he's at Steve-Martin-playing-arenas mode but it was a real thing.

And you can see how that response from a crowd can be destructive if what you really love to do is standup. I think Aziz handled it great, but I can also see how that sorta response would start to kill one's enjoyment of standup after a while.

Reminded me of going to see Joe Rogan perform at Caroline's a while back. It was not all that fun since crowd had a lot of mooks constantly shouting out stuff about UFC and Fear Factor. Rogan can be a thougtful guy. But that night, he had to be a babysitter more than anything else.


Abbi Crutchfield said...

Being a celeb does NOT suck, not ever, and I speak from no experience.

myq said...

I think it sucks to be a celebrity if someone assassinates you, and they wouldn't have if you weren't a celebrity because they wouldn't have known you.

soce said...

Thankfully I will always be underground forever and never have to worry about having fans or people coming to my shows! It's awesome!

Actually a few years ago, I saw Aziz in the subway, and I kind of like smiled to my friend and subtly motioned to him that Aziz was there. But then it was funny because my friend had no idea who he was, so he just thought I was smiling and motioning to him for no reason.

I thought I was sharing a "hey check out that celeb" moment with a friend, and he just thought I was flirting with him like I always do.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

@ Soce: he also thinks you're racist.

@ Myq: Are you thinking of Selena? Me too.

@ Matt: Do you think Jim Gaffigan thought being a celebrity sucked that night?

myq said...

Regarding Gaffigan's celebrity vs. Aziz's (even though this question wasn't the one aimed @ me):

I think the nature of their fame is different...
For Gaffigan, it's come pretty much through standup.
For Aziz, it's come more through TV and movies.

And when it's the latter, I feel like that situation can produce some more of the negative effects associated with celebrity, like people coming and yelling catchphrases and that sort of thing (like "I'm Rick James" at Chappelle, that sort of thing).

So if people are coming because they're a fan of your non-standup work, as opposed to your standup, I think that can make it rougher. (Though, that's certainly one of those problems that's good to have.)

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