A Weekend in Snoqualmie + The Hangover
Can’t get to sleep tonight, thought I’d try and write another blog. Hopefully I can get back in the swing of things by writing weekly. I was writing a decent blog every day, what happened? My life got less interesting? Perhaps I have one decent story from every week worth of work? I update my facebook pretty often with decent jokes or stories or interesting things. Why don’t I take some time out of the day to force one of the better updates in to a blog? Let’s see what I’ve got.
“The Mets are trying to extend their Dicky. Haven’t they tried those pills from the internet?” Ok. Dick joke. Baseball joke.
“The Lakers lost to Cleveland. They should change the acronym from LAL to LOL.” I am killing it with sports jokes. I just need to find my audience.
“The Big Mac has so much lettuce, you would think it’s made by subway.” Ok. Maybe I don’t have anything interesting to talk about. But seriously, what’s the deal with piling on shredded lettuce. When did that become a thing?
So, I had a cool weekend at Snoqualmie Casino with Mike Birbiglia. He was PAWKWARD (jk, in case he gets this in a google alert.) I’ve done venues in similar size a few times in the last year, and talked with friends who do them more often than I do. The key seems to go slower. Take a 10 minute set, make it 12. Anyway, I wasn’t that nervous for it. There comes a time in a comic’s life where, I’m touring the country, doing well 90% of the time, I’m making 18 grand this year off comedy, 100 dollars at a time and telling the same jokes every week. I would like to think I know what I’m doing at this point. Which Mike (and the crowd) sort of confirmed.
The more traveling I do, the more mailing list one nighter gigs I take to supplement the club work on off nights which amounts to the 10% bad. But the better I feel about myself as a comedian, and the better I get at doing clubs my way, the less success I feel like I have in these rooms. Which isn’t fun, you want to do well everywhere, but I sort of justify it with a “whatever, this isn’t comedy. This is babysitting drunk people. These aren’t the people that I want to connect with.” The venue doesn’t have a stage or lights but they’ve got a karaoke machine in a corner you can talk into. There’s still got to be a way to captivate a shitty audience, right? I mean other than bad impressions or a guitar.
Anyway, the weekend was great. The first night, it took a little adjusting to the room and the pace. The set I chose was awkward and choppy. I’ve been traveling almost non stop since August so I hadn’t had time to open mic all the stuff I’ve been writing. I thought I’d throw in a new joke and see how it went but it wasn’t in the right spot. Which I realized as soon as I told it. I always have trouble designing shorter sets. I do a half hour almost every night. I’ve got no mid-range. I have a 5 minute set and a 25 minute set.
Even at open mics it’s hard because in my head I have to set up certain jokes with information that’s learned through a process. I was writing on an idea about how my dad once told me I should “find a girl who likes to travel, you guys can hit the road like Bonnie and Clyde.” and there were so many ideas to go off on. First of all, Bonnie and Clyde is your go to there? Like I’m robbing people? Worst criminal ever. “Gimmie all your money! Actually, give me barely enough money to get home. Put those hundreds back.” and so on. That kind of thing requires knowledge that I drive everywhere, I’m not wealthy, and my parents are kooky. So do I have to do those jokes to set up that one new bit? or is the audience smart enough to know that I’m at open mic on a tuesday, and it’s fairly obvious I’m not wealthy.
So I’m talking with Mike and he kind of pointed out it was two different sets stuck together. Which I copped to and tried to justify it. When even in my head I knew is only because I’m a giant pussy. lol. I still do bad rooms, so those cute jokes up front are sort of my defense mechanism. “Hey, like me, and now let’s talk about some shit.” So after some fun in depth talks, I did some different things the second night and it worked out as well as it could.
Anyway. Nothing more humbling than doing a bar gig a few days later for $75. Which went well enough. I didn’t hate myself, I just did an older set of jokes. Which made me hate comedy. I was getting mild chuckles with my normal set, then I went back to some older jokes and they perked up. Am I going to have to design 2 different half hour sets to get by? I’m living somewhat comfortably this year. I’m not starving myself to conserve funds anymore. I could take a hit.
What’s even more humbling is the show I did tonight, for $50. Nobody really knew there was a comedy show, you’re talking into a karaoke mic. The host went up and I thought “wow, this is a lively crowd for a dive bar.” Then I realized that the round of applause was a sound effect the DJ was playing. This is not good. The MC gets yelled at for 15 minutes. The only table near the stage/dance floor was people just talking and yelling at the host, who’s a pretty funny guy I like. So I knew I didn’t stand a chance. I went up to thunderous sound effect applause. Started my set, and just tried to pretend I was still in Snoqualmie. Tried to keep happy thoughts in my head. That lasted maybe 15 minutes. Like I was talking to a mirror. It’s tough, because I usually think during the laughter. When there is none, I really notice the pauses in my set.
It’s almost like telling your jokes to yourself on the way to your show. I start to wonder why people laugh at this in the first place. Then I hate myself. So I’m up there. I do a joke about looking young, I think I exaggerated to looking 12, and a guy goes “whoo hoo 12 year olds.” and you would think that’s where I stop, but I keep going. Looking at the clock in the back of the room. Finally I pause and look around. Not one person is watching. and I thought, “If I just, stand here for another 15 minutes, would anyone care?” I didn’t realize I was thinking out loud. A guy is like “No we like you. if we paid to get in here, we might pay attention, but it’s free so whatever” – He doesn’t value the show, but he understands why. That’s the smart alcoholic. I started telling him, I’m background noise, there’s no point to be here. He promised to pay attention. So he did for a while and it wasn’t good, but I at least had some feedback. I wasn’t talking to myself anymore. but it was still on pace to be one of the worst gigs I’ve done.
I’ve had a worse gig, but they paid more, so even though I always say a Casino in Orville, California was my worst show. It was like a $200 gig on a wednesday while I was doing a club the rest of the weekend, it had a nice hotel room, with a rubber duck in the bathroom, which I stole as a momento. This bar is 10 minutes from my house. For $50. and for a while I thought, this is worse. Do I hate this more because I just did so well for 1000 people? or do I hate this on it’s own merit?
So we’re on pace to be the worst gig ever. Until a guy paid me $20 to repeat a joke so his friends could hear it because they were talking. Then it became great. because it wasn’t even a great joke. and they didn’t laugh. Then they went back to talking. and I made an extra $20.
Then I got to watch Adam try to headline for 30 minutes or so. Only to get yelled at by a large black woman who he called “a less successful whoopi goldberg.” Then she ripped the mic out of his hand and started yelling at him. Then she spiked it. He picked it up. Looked at the time on his phone. Handed the mic to the DJ, and high fived me on his way out the door. Afterwards all the bartenders came up and asked for his email so they could apologize. I was like don’t apologize, just fix the show for next weeks comedians. (It won’t happen.)
So I posted a few of those stories from tonight on facebook, and about 20 minutes later (while I’m still writing this blog) I get a phone call. It started with basically “Do you know who the fuck I am, I work the comedy store and I don’t need you posting on facebook about the shitty show. I don’t have to send you your check.” for 5 minutes and evolved to “Yeah I know it’s a shit room, I was there a couple weeks ago doing the show but if you’re funny, the people will pay attention.” and ended with “I’m sorry I called you angry, we’re cool man, I’ll still send your check and stuff, and I know you’ll post something about this call on facebook too and I don’t care.” 15 minutes later. Is Kat Williams still in Seattle? The funny thing is, I have no idea who this guy is. The person who booked me, is a different person. This guy is somehow involved. He seemed to end on good terms, he apologized, he needed his chew is what he said, and he told me I didn’t have to delete anything. which is nice. You should never go to bed angry. I’ve heard. By the way, not to continue ragging on this caller, but if you work the comedy store, WHY would you ever go back to a shit bar show with the TV’s on? What was the headliner money? $150 bucks? Come on, son!
Two more bar shows this week (with cover charges, so it can’t be THAT bad?) and then, watching Louis CK on Thursday and going to Hawaii Friday for some family vacation time. So hopefully no more shenanigans. Until next time folks.
Oh, one other quick note. I’ve been scanning all the advice book pages onto my facebook page for a while, but I thought of maybe putting them on a tumblr page too, to get more notice in a more public page? Someone stumbles on it, hopefully? They’re not all up on there yet, but you can check it out here: http://standupbookcamp.tumblr.com/