So tonight was my first night hosting for a real comedy show. Scary. The fucked up thing is that I've been working extra shifts at my job because I'm under hours for insurance. So I've been tired as hell and haven't been able to put the appropriate time into my set or this weekend in general. In addition I've been trying to promote the show like crazy and then I found out one of the shows (the Saturday 10 o'clock) was cancelled because of a Sonics game, and that my 2for1 coupons that I've been MAD pimping don't count for the 8 o'clock shows on Fri and Sat (I think because the 10 show on Sat was cancelled that they are good for the 8... I think). Stress, whatever, it's not like my job is really that huge.
So I did some research on the comics I'm going to bring up. Betsy Wise was the headliner so I hit up her webpage and her Myspace and saw some of her stuff. What I saw was funny and cruising the edge without going over. She's all over VH-1 and is on Gregg the Bunny. Cable would be nice right about now. So she's a big deal. Cool.
I get to the show about an hour early. My faithful, loving, supportive roommates, Joe (yeah, you know) and Lacie delivered me and hung out while I got my shit together. The absolutely wonderful Cathy Sorbo sent me an email breaking down the dos and don'ts of hosting which proved to be invaluable because when I got there I sounded like I knew what the fuck I was doing... PSYCHE! Rat City has honed my skillz of flying by the seat of my pants so between that and Cathy's tutorial I was pretty set up. Still I was worried about fucking things up.
I met up with Julie Mains (one of the owners whom I mentioned previously) and she gave me the list of mentionables for the show... tip the waitress, sign the mailing list, look nice (Lacie took me shopping the night before for a blazer and new pants... best roommates ever). She then asked me what my traveling capabilities were because a guy who runs a circuit is coming Saturday. Holy living fuck. She was very complimentary about my set the other night and talked about how my background (theatre and announcing) gave me a leg up for this. She's hoping the circuit guy will like me or a least put me on the path of hitting one. I'm not going to get my hopes up but I am going to learn to drive ASAP. Joe alluded to lending me his truck if I have to go out on the road. Asshole. I feel that I might be getting WAY too far ahead of myself here.
An interesting thing I observed while I was there was the very subtle politicking. There were a lot of things being said behind things being said by a lot of the comics hanging out in the VIP room. Julie asked me if I was into the comic "scene" around here (I think she was being a lot more specific than she sounded, but since I am not actually in the scene, I wasn't sure exactly) and when I said "no" she warned me that comics are worse than sewing circle and WAY worse than theatre or music scene. Now coming from someone with a Masters in Music Theater from a very prestigious school, that scared me. I really want to do this without having to deal with scene drama. Sure enough not 10 minutes after she mentioned it I observed several example of comic backchat. Nothing I could translate into meaning anything, but I know it when I see it a mile away. I hate that shit and always have. I know it's who you know and that's fine with me, but if I can do this while getting along with everybody but not having to become apart of a specific scene, I'll be a very happy man.
Julie tells me I'm on and I run up on stage... right when the DJ is calling me up. So I'm up ON STAGE like a douchebag while DJ lb is saying "Welcome to the stage, your host... etc." I made goofy faces and did my set. There was a birthday party there so I sang Happy Birthday to them. They were loud and a lot of fun. I did my cocaine bit and hiccuped a little but over all it went well. I tried my Cheesecake Factory bit, the first part went well but could use a little trimming, then I did the second part, which I've practiced with people but have not had in front of an audience yet. It barely landed with a thud. It's a funny story about two guys from work that I've told a thousand times and is always funny, but telling it on stage is a WAY different art. Need to work the HELL out of that one. Then I bring up the first comic.
When I get down Julie tells me I went longer than I should've. I had to do about 7 minutes. I guess I ended up doing 15. Ooops. They were cool about it, they said at least it was funny for going too long. Still, my bad. Had I cut the story my set would have been much stronger and the time would've been good. Fuck.
Now I guess there is always the headliner who gets the last set, then the featured comic who is like the opening act, there's the guest set who warm up the crowd, and the host. The headliner gets 45 minutes, the featured gets 30 and the guests get 5. The host gets 7-10 at the start and riffs in between sets. So the guest set ended and I bring up the featured comic. He had the audience attention but his style was really laid back and the audience started to get quiet. Then he went into a bit that wasn't the most Christian friendly, which might work most of the time in Seattle, but the birthday girls family, who were the laughingest table there, were all Christian. Ouch. When the set ends the room is tense. Julie wanted me to do the 80s bit to bring them back but I had a Christian bit that was actually Christian friendly so I used a line from that and the crowd digged it. Whew.
I brought up Betsy Wise, the headliner. She was really funny. Again the difference between pro comic and newbie are too subtle to describe but fascinating to watch. She was very charming and relaxed on stage but she had that audience in the palm of her hand. For 45 solid minutes she was in complete control, read them and then took them with her. Some of her online material I saw online could probably turn off the Christian table, but she wisely avoided it while bringing out other edgy material that they could get into. It was a great set through and through. I quickly closed out the show and that was that.
I got a lot of compliments from the staff and from the birthday party. My friends liked my set as well. I don't think it was as polished as the open mic, but I felt good about keeping the audience with me. The only real fuck up for me was going over time. Betsy was a really nice person who liked my clothes (in part of my set I talk about how I don't have a lot of style [I don't] and she said "I think you have a lot of style, I don't know why you said that." Thanks again Lacie for taking me shopping) and was cool to talk to. I'm starting to get the feeling that Julie wants to groom me into comicdome. Fine by me! I just gotta remember not to get to far ahead of myself. I'm still really new.
Lesson: Less is more, stick with the stuff you know works than cut out.
Backup lesson: Be nice to everyone so people will be happy to help you and no one can talk shit about you.