On A Roll
You do something you've never done before; bring tootsie rolls for everyone, or say something brilliant, or accidentally show a body part. You are all then aware that you have this unique experience that you likely won't have again.
Maybe you make a mistake and they catch you. You contradict yourself. Now you can't hide behind your words. It's like the Wizard of Oz, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."
I told an audience once, "I don't even have a car!" and almost immediately afterwards, "So I was driving my car..."
All at once they started shouting, "Hey! I thought you didn't have a car!"
I just stood there with that hand-in-the-cookie-jar grin. What do you do? I don't think you can rationalize your way out of that. They've got you! I started laughing. "I did them out of order and it totally changed the meaning and implication. I didn't think about it but you're right! Here's what happenned, I had a car. I got in a car accident. I lost the car, and so I didn't have a car when..."
Even though that was the truth, they didn't believe a word I said after that. I had lipstick on my collar and they had no mercy. However, they laughed and gave me their undivided attention for the rest of the set. When I left they all had to take the time to point a finger and imply, "We got you!" They were willing to forgive me because they liked me.
Likeability is a huge factor in comedy. That's a big part of why I want to go to NY. I rely so heavily on my personality, that it's okay if a joke flops. Maybe they won't laugh, but they'll like me. I hate having that mentality. I have a hard time accepting a show where they weren't laughing because of jokes.
One KEY thing to know is the chain of events prior to last night's show. New Years day I quit smoking. So I was pretty tense when I lost a contact lens down the drain that same day. I am legally blind and pitifully nearsighted. My glasses are 4 years old, so I have no depth perception, blurry vision, migraines, and no peripheral vision. This will probably go unfixed for a while, as I have no health insurance. I am having a benefit just to get my plane ticket to NY. I'm not sleeping well due to nicotine withdrawals.
Can it get worse, Alysia?
My mother was letting me borrow her car. She picks me up. I open the car door. With my 3 hours of sleep, I hit myself in the face with the door. That's the whole story.
It was a fraction of a pound away from splitting my forehead open. One super small layer of skin was holding the two sides of my forehead in place, and that small piece of skin was fragile. The nearby skin was literally jammed into the dent the door caused.
It was swelling quickly and blood was trying to poor out-but it WASN'T because (THANKS GOD!) of one tiny, little piece of skin holding it together.
Well, if you ever clock yourself extremely hard, you want to make sure your mom is a nurse. "Hold still, let me see," she says. She grabs my forehead (not gingerly, either) and starts to pull the two sides apart to see if I need stitches. I smack her hand away. This is the treatment I received as a youth which makes me a very violent, uncooperative, untrusting patient. I'm no expert but if it's not bleeding, no stitches necessary. If it's being held by one piece of skin, don't yank it apart.
That night I did my show with a monster headache and an ice pack attached to my head at almost all times. I would take it off my head to do jokes, but it would hurt so bad I put it back. I had a horrible show. When I got home I found an email from Paul, another comic:
-----------------------------------------------------------Don't worry about tonight's show. Tomorrow you will be over your head wound and everything will flow. You stopped a lot of bits right in the middle to apply the compress. Hard for anyone to have a good show when they are administering first aid to themselves.
I got little sleep that night. My mother called every two hours, "Who's the president?"
Last night, I was wrapping up my last show in Tacoma under these same circumstances. I didn't use the compress because it hurt to touch my head at all. My first show went well enough. Second show, I decided to drink ONE drink.
Not even 3/4 of the way through my one shot drink, I was totally hammerred. I would find out later that when you have a concussion you shouldn't drink because your brain is damaged, confused, and so everything is intensified. Especially when you smack yourself in the frontal lobe.
So my second show went completely to shit.
The audience is mainly regulars. They've watched me "grow up" as a comic. My first car died en route to this club. I fell off stage once. They taught me to emcee. I took 3rd place in this club during the Seattle Comedy Competition. I scraped a drunk comedian off of the kitchen floor. I had a bouncer pick me up, put me over his head, and move me away from a crowd of fighting people on the dance floor. It's that type of stuff that made it "my club" for so long. I even worked as assistant manager there for a while, being the liason between comics and press. My pay? $20. You'd be amazed how far $20 goes.
Endless stories. So what better way to perform for the last time than with a concussion and drunk?
I pretty much had a very painful experience that show. A local headliner, a really strong act that I REALLY admire, went up before me. Then when I went up, I made a huge mistake by telling them I didn't think I could follow him. Audiences believe what you tell them. After I made that comment, I think I couldn't have made them laugh at anything no matter how hard I tried. Then I just quit trying.
The audience also knows my jokes. I can bomb doing my best material, because they've heard it before. But new material, even done half assed, will light up the room.
They were pretty kind about it, though. I remember thinking; 'I am doing horrible, but they are still enjoying it. They are still entertained, even though they aren't laughing.'
Then someone in the audience made comment of the night, "If you don't like NY, make sure you come home. WE like ya."
While that's a nice thing to say, the show will make it harder to come home to Seattle. Might as well stick it out in New York when times get tough. They weren't laughing at home, either.
WISE WORDS FROM BUSTA
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