“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you’re a slob.” – Kevin Costner as “Crash Davis” in the movie “Bull Durham”.
This is perhaps one of my favorite movie lines of all time. In context, Kevin Costner’s character has been given the task of mentoring a young pitcher in baseball’s minor leagues. Crash Davis often teaches young “Luke ‘Nuke’ Laloosh”, played by Tim Robbins, lessons about life and how those lessons are vital to a successful baseball career. In this scene, Crash calls to attention the pitcher’s slob laden approach to his hygiene and appearance.
I believe stand up comics can take this lesson to heart as well. At least, I do. I have always made it a practice to look my very best when I have been booked for a show that will be presented in front of a paying audience. It has become quite the norm to watch comics take to the stage appearing as though they just got off their couch wearing clothing that seemed like an after thought. I am not suggesting that one should dress up in a suit and tie to tell jokes on stage as though appearing on the old Johnny Carson Show. What I am saying is that we need to make an effort to put our best foot forward when performing in front of a live, ticket paying audience. This allows you to appeal to as many of their senses as possible. Through out the night, you will have the opportunity to appeal to 4 of the audiences 5 senses, (I don’t see how it would be possible to have them taste you, unless things get pretty wild), and the better impression you make on each of their senses, the more they are likely to remember you.
A few weeks ago, I attended an open mic, here in El Paso, Texas. I was wearing a very loose t-shirt and a pair of shorts. I hadn’t shaved in a few days and I looked rather raggedy. I have always dressed up for all of my paid performances, but this was an open mic, so I really thought is was no big deal. Right before I took the stage, I noticed two individuals walk in to the bar. I recognized one of them as the headliner appearing at the local comedy club that week. A comedian from L.A., he had recently appeared on Conan O’brien and was currently embarking on a national tour across the country as a nationally known “Headliner”. The fellow he was with, I assumed was his feature performer, who was also performing at the comedy club all week.
I went on stage and had a great set. I even noticed that my material was even making the L.A. comics laugh. At the end of the night, I made my usual rounds of the tables, thanking all of those that attended and gave us their attention. I really wanted to meet the L.A. star and just shake his hand, but I was intercepted by the other guy that walked in with him. He went on to tell me how I had impressed him and his friend so much during my set. Although they came to watch an open mic show and expected to see the same type of “hacky” material that typically accompanies such shows, they were pretty impressed at the originality of my set. He then said the following: “If you ever go to L.A., I think you would do great, but let me give you a little advice. When you appear on stage, try to look your best. Bookers and agents are looking for talent all of the time, but they are also looking for talent that they can market. They want to see comics that are pleasing to the eye. When they see someone like you who has talent and looks good, they will be lining up to offer you the fruits of your labor.” I thanked him for the great advice and completely forgot about meeting the “Headliner”. I don’t think I could have asked for better feedback!
Check out the Bull Durham clip below!