The Resentful Open Micer
Let's start with the demons:
This person has seen me do well, but they never book me. They must hate me or my comedy. They keep pulling from the same circle of friends. Oh, they're booking other producers, movers and shakers, I get it. You book me, I book you.
A first-year comic that brings 20 people. That's every producer's friend.
Ok, maybe they work hard AND they deserve it, but FUCK. THEM.
The rage of jealousy. Who is more deserving? Who is funnier?
I started working harder on my material and good things started happening.
Oh, is that how it works? I wasn't making an impression with my mediocrity, frequent bitching and fizzle-outs?
I'd be on stage feeling a bit wasn't going well and then jump ship,
"Alright, we'll just move onto the next thing." (20-second pause while I search my beer-battered brain for the next bit)
My biggest bombs have been with human interactions. Other comics that I just met...or think I just met. The fist-bumping, awkward half hug, handshake nightmare that’s never consistent. Sometimes it feels like an audition, I only have 30 seconds to prove that I’m funny and I’m not an alien. I usually fail both tests AND offend the person as a bonus!
My ideal exchange is being silly with someone and it’s not a joke-off for seniority, we just have a mutual appreciation for stupid. I can let my guard down and be myself. It's hard though, I have to train myself to relax, remind myself it’s ok to just listen and not try to make an impression, or run over someone else's thoughts with my forced input. Stop crapping on comics I barely know.
I’ve been doing obnoxious/quirky shit for so long that I forget it’s a part of me- I make car sound effects when I dart past someone. I make sound effects when I give my debit card to the cashier. The fuck is wrong with me?
I play out hypothetical arguments IN MY HEAD. I'm getting worked up from imaginary interactions. It stems from one or two poisonous relationships. Why am I trying to be friends with someone so disagreeable? Why do I keep saying hi when they clearly want nothing to do with me? I want to be liked so bad, but it’s time to let that shit go. Maybe I just don't like the idea of ignoring someone that I used to talk to. A comedy ex.
“I don’t know the meaning of success, but I do know the meaning of failure. It’s when I try to make everybody love me.”
-a sign hanging up in Sammy Davis Jr.’s dressing room.
Wow. I’m glad I stumbled onto that one.
Comedy Groups on Facebook only stir the pot. So much sarcasm. Everyone has a snarky reply. I feel bad for the newbies because they’re obsessed with their very first set and already they want constant reassurance.
Let me share the joke I did and you tell me that it’s great and that I did the right thing- here's a clip.
They’re still getting over the fear of DOING standup, while I'm complaining about not getting up enough!
There are some godawful mics that will ultimately make me feel worse, but I still want to reach my minimum quota of 4 mics a week. Anything less and I feel like a piece of unproductive shit.
The battle to keep cool continues. Listening to a host shit on another comic. How many comics in a row have a hacky race joke? This goldmine was exhausted by the 80's, but I guess research limits your output. Another smelly homeless person story. Trump impressions. Women are craaaazy. Complaining how you can't say faggot or dancing around the possibility of saying the N-Word. I'm so mis-er-a-bleeeee.
I write entries like this as if I have a fucking grasp on it, but I really don't. I bomb and I bomb and I bomb. I struggle to be myself. I rub a lot of people the wrong way. I have a long way to go.
Just give me stage time, anywhere, and I'll work at getting better. I'm trying to figure out these pesky act-outs. I have to commit to these 3-4 minute bits while most onlookers watch me stone-faced, or never look up from their phones. I feel disconnected all the time and I have to push myself to make eye contact.
Jeremiah Watkins told me to do that a couple years ago and it's still a struggle. I want to avert my eyes from any judgement. Fear is still holding me back.
Here's my jittery interview with him at The Comedy Store. It's 14 minutes and it's definitely worthwhile if you're feeling frustrated about open mics- let's go down the inspirational path for a moment...shall we?
I'm way older than Jeremiah, but I admire the guy and he's got a ton of mileage on me, so I couldn't help but be a nervous wreck and call him a Comedy God, haha. I was really pleased with his answers though and I hope you find some inspiration here, especially regarding attitudes and doing shows.
I think it is good to do as many shows as possible and there's nothing better than getting a Facebook message at 1 in the morning for a booking. I love filling up that calendar. You can throw any shit-show at me and I still get excited, especially when the flyer comes out.
I can walk into the worst case scenario:
You can’t turn off the televisions because there’s a game on- fine!
Jukebox is staying on, fine!
The bartender is having loud conversations with the customers, fine!
Some guy is playing pool, ok!
The sound cuts in and out, fine!
The disco lights are distracting, fine!
The other comics are talking outside, fine!
The customers have to cross the stage to use the bathroom, fine, I'll make it work! I still get 10 minutes though, right? Hmm, I wonder if I can get them to listen, wouldn't that be something?
A week ago, my Dad and my stepmom had a stop in LA before going back to Hawaii. We met up at the Old World Village Market near my work. I told my dad about my first Door Guy spot and how my dirty joke got a laugh break and then he asked me to tell him the joke. I was hesitant, it was just weird because we were standing in this German marketplace and he had a basket filled with jars of peppers and mustard. I suppose the perfect setting for a dick joke.
I told him the joke and he was quiet. Then he was shaking. I saw him laugh through his squinting eyes and he said, “Did you write that? That’s pretty good.”
I don’t know why I even hesitated, the guy makes innuendos 24-7. At dinner he showed me a vacation photo where his ass was hanging out. Like me, he hesitated to share the joke for about 2 seconds. Then he got a laugh out of me. It's like we're both afraid to have our childish sense of humor shot down, the thing we hold dearest.
He's had my back through all my dumb decisions. DJ, Actor, Filmmaker. I’ve been on the wrong path before, so there’s always that possibility that I’m being delusional again. I took 4 years of my life to complete and eventually quit on a feature film and there’s that fear that I’m going to look back at my standup work and realize...shit, I was wrong again. The work is sloppy, amusing at best. Why did I think that I could do this?
That’s not the case though. I can do this. I don’t have to wait to go to a screening to see if these jokes work, I can just invade a dive bar mic on any given night with a handful of thoughts. Sometimes it's just a chuckle on the setup of the premise- oh ok. Maybe it's worth pursuing. That only took 30 seconds. Go back tomorrow for part 2 of 2,000- the development of this fine ball-accident joke.
The shows build up my confidence again. People that are specifically coming out for a comedy show are enjoying my set and for once I'm not seeking the approval of some asshole looking down on their phone. The work has paid off, but there's still so much more to do.
It’s the technical year. Compiling a consistent 5 minute act. 7 minutes. 10. 15. Logical segues and seamless transitions. Moving around comfortably in a professional setting. What is the line to open with? I say “Hey guys” and it never goes well. Immediately a bad impression. I usually come off best when I comment on something that has nothing to do with my pre-planned jokes- a little acknowledgement, maybe the setting or a callback to a funnier comedian’s bit. Always a positive statement, nothing backhanded. I can't stand comedians that shit on the venue when they're getting paid to be there.
Right now I’m obsessed with the first word, Do I say hi? What’s up guys? Give it up for yourselves! I’m thinking of trying “Thank you” as if to say, Thank you for allowing me to get THIS far. Now let's see if I can make you laugh.
I made a promo video for my first Rec Room spot as a Door Guy. I love doing stupid shit like this at 2 in the morning.
I'd say 90% of the time I drag myself out of my self-loathing and get in the car, the night takes a turn for the better. I start singing in the car, making up my own lyrics, warming up my voice for the eventual set- maybe two if I'm lucky. Sometimes it goes horrible, but I still run into some fantastic people- totally worth it. Venturing out of my circle of friends usually leads to an interesting night.
Every once in awhile someone comes up to me and mentions my website or open mic reviews. A couple guys handed me cash- unbelievable. That's pretty awesome. Sometimes the host will mention the critic thing in my intro and I'll get embarrassed because I don't want comedians to get the wrong idea, like it makes me think I deserve something. I just want to run my jokes too. I do occasionally scream, "No, no, NOOOOO!" during your set and shred pieces of paper, but it's only because I'm signaling to the host that I'm going to write the nastiest review unless I receive SPOTS. So don't jerk me around.
I've been pretty harsh at times, but I think a lot of mics are just excuses to get high with friends and that's just not my thing. I get annoyed when a fucked up host wastes time talking shit. No material, just ranting, spewing bile in every direction. There's a reason experienced comics never turn up to these mics. It's not because they're fucking hipsters, they have better places to be! This mic is depressing.
I fucking hate these people...where's the joke? Freedom of speech my ass, say something that'll surprise everyone, I dare you. I dare you to write a good joke to back up that statement. That would blow everyone's mind, believe me. I just want to leave these people behind forever. Ranting open micers are BORING.
Ugh, who wants to read this shit? JUST BE FUNNY!!!!!
BE NICE. BE FUNNY. WORK HARD.
I'm going to end this entry with something fun.
Luis is 17. We call him the intern. He's a bright guy and extremely funny for his age. He complains a lot like a whiny kid who constantly feels left out and talks a big game just to get a reaction. He's doing standup and who knows if he'll actually stick it out, but it seems like he's found a home with us weirdos...at least at the coffee shop mics or places he's allowed into. Here's an example of his sense of humor.
Recently he posted this on Instagram:
This flyer looks legit for an open mic. Minimal effort and the necessary information.
We should've known what this kid was up to, but we wanted to believe this mic existed so bad and why doubt the kid? Maybe he'll give us a featured spot, haha. Weirder mics have existed. Anyway, these are the comments that followed: