So I was out of town last weekend to announce for the Rat City Rollergirls and the Rose City Rollers at the west coast regional derby tournament known as Dust Devil in Tucson. It had been two weeks since I did comedy... no big deal. I go tonight not really knowing what bit I'm going to do, which is no biggie because I've had these things in my head for years now. Do I do my derby bit, porn bit, politics, work, or bumbershoot...? whatever, I will kill. I don't even need a companion this time, I can do it all by myself.
As I walk solo to Comedy Underground I settle on doing the first half of the "work bit" known hereafter as "work bit pt. 1". No big deal that I've never practiced it, let alone wrote it down. I get there, I'm signed up, it's on. I use the interim hour before the show starts to actually write down the bit in my notebook. How novel. I sit with Christie. I've seen her in the audience a few times but tonight she's going up. Cool as a cucumber.
Here's the thing about this night... everybody's doing really well. Some people who I've seen do OK before are doing really well. People I've seen do really well are killing. No pressure. Cristie goes up and does very well herself. Not there aren't a few casualties, including one notable Theater of Awkward (a drug dealer who hates his mom repeatedly saying "fuck this, I don't even know what I'm doing here"), but over all it's a good night for funny.
I'm called up earlier than expected which threw me off and made me nervouse. The other thing that happened is, oh yeah, I never practiced my bit. Almost nothing landed to begin with and the transitions were slop. It was the worst I've done yet. Some of my cracks were peppered with lite giggles, an early joke elicited a guffaw, but I was barely holding on enough to keep it from being a washout. I tried my first real physical joke that was coupled with an audience Q & A, lo and behold it worked. I got 'em back at the last minute.
I feel that the first two times I did the open mic, I landed within 70th percentile (not including special guests that break the curve). This time I barely hit the 50th. I used stuff that, in my heart, I knew was not super funny, plus I stumbled all over the place. The one thing I can always take home with me is that no matter how bad I am at an open mic, there will always be someone worse. The day I'm last place is the day I give up for good.
Having said that last statement I would like to reiterate that anyone and everyone who walks on stage for an open mic has balls of steel and even though I throw out my opinion of their quality, it is always done so with the utmost respect of anyone who confronts a scary situation for the purpose of bringing someone mirth. Much love to my fellow comics (as if I can be called one yet).
Lesson: Practice your fucking material. Write it out and say it out loud enough until you are comfortable with it.
Backup lesson: It's good to bring a friend to keep the nerves down.