Bombing; When Being in a Room Full of People Makes You Feel Alone


Bombing, (not getting any laughs while on stage), is not only a learning experience, it is an absolute certainty in the business of stand up. Last night was one of those nights for me. I will not make any excuses about why my set did not do so well. I will attempt to describe the environment I was in and feelings running through my head at the time. Here we go:

The stage is set at a local bar, which has made Tuesday nights a regular stand up comedy night. For the most part, the audiences can be 50/50 when it comes to being receptive. Tonight, the show is delayed as U.S.A battles Mexico in a soccer World Cup qualifying match. The game ultimately ends in a zero tie. A few people have left at the conclusion of the game, but most have stayed. Some of the patrons are regulars and some are fresh new faces. The bar can occupy at least 100 people. By the time the show starts, everyone has settled in to their socializing and drinking and the show begins 30 minutes after the soccer game has ended. The promoter of the show, and fellow comic, asks me if I am willing to go on first to “break the ice”. I reluctantly agree. I say that because I am accepting the daunting task of trying to get everyone’s attention with some humor while they are all enjoying their drinks and camaraderie. Being the first to take the stage is perceived as a losing effort. The assumption that you are funny and going first is at a negative rating. The way I see it, however, I am now a semi professional at this. I can “break the ice!”

My name is introduced, then my “Jump Around” intro music is played. No one recognizes my name and my out dated music does not seem to resonate with anyone in the audience. I take the stage to the sound of continuous chatter and absolutely no applause. No biggie. I will get them with my first joke. I get up, I greet the crowd and get in to my fist joke. I use a joke that gets laughs 100% of the time. It works, but only 1/3rd of the audience is with me. I can tell that continuing at this pace, I will end the show with the same 1/3rd of the crowd. I decide to “riff” (talk directly to specific member of the audience), in an effort to get them more engaged. I select to speak with 2 black guys, the only 2 black guys, seated at a table a few feet away from me. I make a joke about black people living in a predominately Latino town and the joke goes over well. But it goes well with the same 1/3rd of the audience. At this point, I think I can now take these people by the hand to my prepared material. I go for it! I go in to a bit about annoying people in Mexican parties. The bit is fairly new but did incredibly well at the comedy club where I hosted 7 straight shows last week, and I am being modest about it just doing “well”. It actually did way better than that! I get to the first punchline of the joke…nothing…I move quickly to the second punchline…nothing but blank faces. I move on to the 3rd punchline and get a few laughs, then a huge laugh when I describe the creepy family member that checks out all the women at the party. Then I get to the funniest part of the joke AND….nothing. Absolutely nothing.

At this point, I am sure you are asking yourself, “Why would anyone put themselves through that? If it were me, I do not know what I would do!” I am on my 7th year of doing stand up and only 4 years in to doing it as aggressively as I have been. I can now go on stage and handle the silence and the blank stares. Often times, I will even let the silence linger long enough for someone to feel the need to laugh! It is a technique that comes with time and patience. I realize that a complete “bomb” on stage is when a comic gets no laughter, but for me, if the laughs are not consistent and sincere, I have bombed. Pure and simple.

What keeps a comic like me going back to the stage night in and night out despite episodes like the one I have described? It is that stubborn feeling that I can still do better. I can learn to win over an audience like this one. I can take the few laughs that I did get and use those bits again when in front of a similar crowd. Yes, every audience is different, but just as you may have learned new techniques or procedures at your job, a stand up comic learns and applies those to each and every show.

If you ever meet a comic that has not been in the business for too long and boasts about how they will soon rise to the top, rest assured, “soon” really means 10 to 15 years. Most stand up comedians have quit way before then.

On to the next show tonight!!

It’s Over…


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I am seriously considering leaving Facebook. I’m slowly starting to realize that, far from being a promotional tool to get the word out on my stand up comedy journey, Facebook is nothing more than a public stage open to anyone and everyone. How in the world is someone supposed to get noticed that way! I’m trying to do something that very few people can do, and that’s stand up on a stage, where 100% of the audience’s attention is on me and no one else. Their ears hanging on every word that proceeds out of my mouth. I’m alone up there and my voice is the only one that can be heard creating all the laughter in the room. No one there is laughing at anything else. When I’m up there, it’s all about me, me me!

Let’s face it, that is exactly what Facebook is. We login and read the Newsfeed, which is filled with countless of posts begging us to “Like”, “Share” and “Comment”. There is also a barrage of posts including funny quotes or lines that are often times not original. I think that’s what annoys me the most. Try this, next time you see a post with a funny joke or quote, which the person seems to be taking all the credit for, cut and paste the entire line to your Internet browser and watch how often it is duplicated as a search result will discover several sites containing the same line! What’s even more frustrating is that when other people comment on those posts, the person posting it continues to take all of the credit! Comments such as, “Oh Paul, you always make my day with your hilarious posts! How do you come up with them so often?” Then Paul will reply, “It’s not easy but you’re very welcome!” UGH!!!!!! Cutting and pasting IS VERY EASY!!! I hate to sound like an attention whore, but honestly, at least for me, if I am trying to stand out and represent myself and what I do as a stand up comic, then I need to think of original ways of doing so. I can’t rely on a social network where originality is thrown out of the window. Succumbing to the temptation of visiting my Facebook makes me no different than everybody else. I can’t keep doing that if I hope to one day create a following that admires me for what I do and how I do it. Yes, I’m looking for that admiration but even more so, I’m looking to STAND OUT in a day and age where everyone else already does….

Signed,

The Underdog Comic

Be the King (or Queen) of What You do Best


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I’m done with humility! I’ve been performing stand up comedy for the last 6 years, and more aggressively, the last 2 years. During the last 2 years, I have gone further than I ever thought I would. In that time, I have been too shy to promote myself as aggressively as I should. That won’t happen anymore! No one, absolutely NO ONE is going to get the word out about who I am and what I do. That is my sole responsibility! If you’re reading this and are an entertainer, or do something where an audience is involved, I want to encourage you to take advantage of everything technology has to offer us these days. We haveĀ  Facebook, youtube, Twitter and the entire internet at our feet and at our disposal. We no longer have to wait to be “discovered” or to wait to get our “one shot”. These days, we have to let the world in on what they’re missing! It will take an unrelenting spirit and continuous effort to keep doing what we’re doing, all the while getting better at it. Then, when the world takes notice, BAM, our tireless work will pay off and continue to do so until we choose to stop it.

I have to recommend the movie, “The King of Comedy” starring Robert DeNiro. That movie is based on a story about an amateur stand up comic, in his early 30’s, who lives in his mother’s basement and has absolutely no social life. As Rupert Pupkin, Robert DeNiro portrays this man as an inexperienced stand up comic, who has never performed on a real stage, and has only rehearsed in his basement, in front of an audience depicted on his wallpaper. Yet, he believes he has comedic talent and will stop at NOTHING to get his message out to the world! Even at the expense of kidnapping a Late Night talk show host, played by Jerry Lewis, and bargaining to get himself to appear on his show in exchange for his safety. I’d go into more detail, but you you’ve just gotta watch!

So what’s it gonna take for you to reach your dreams? I believe we all know that answer to that, and when we decide to take that leap of faith, at the risk of everything we’ve ever worked for, then we can truly say that we gave it all that we’ve got!

 

Oh, here’s a youtube link to the full version of the movie! Gotta love the day and age we live in; Enjoy!