It was a tiny audience for the 8 o'clock show. No big deal. I came out and tried to get the crowd hyped up. It worked a little. I wasn't going to do as much because I went so long the day before. Fair. Did the cocaine bit because that's probably my most solid piece... Not one. Thing. Landed. Dead air. I haven't totally experienced this phenomenon yet. Now there were nights that I haven't been as good but this was a Sautreian void I gazed into.
The knee jerk reaction to something like this is "the audience is dead", or "the audience sucks" but I take issue with that. I'm princeply against blaming the audience in any capacity whether it's a small audience or simply not your target audience. Should not entertainers be able to entertain in any capacity? I think so, so I put it on myself if I can't get the audience going.
With that I noticed that if I read the audience a little closer I could've known that the coke bit would not have flown so well. It was just not a cocaine savvy crowd. I believe in hindsight that the bumbershoot bit would've done much better. Having said that there's something much more fundamental at hand and I believe that it's my lack of preparation.
Roller Derby has conditioned me to fly by the seat of my pants because we usually don't HAVE anything prepared. When I'm acting, I give myself a lot of time to get into the zone as it were. I've been treating comedy more like derby than acting and I think the reverse would be better off for me. Really I think it's a combination of the two disciplines but I think prep time is as important in comedy as acting. When I have prepped I've had solid sets.
The other comics had difficulty with the audience but all fared better than I did. Luckily not as much pressure is put on the host as a performer. Still, if I want to do this like I want to do this I have to hold myself to a higher standard. Betsy Wise did a great job of bringing the audience too her. She interacted personally with them and they really appreciated it. It was an impressive feat to watch. It reminded me of an earlier lesson, "when the crowd is dead, riff". Much to learn.
Some of my friends from work (Cheesecake Factory) showed up to this one and the 6 of them made up half the audience. I had more of an advantage this time around so I used my Cheesecake Factory bit. It killed. I feel like I can't take too much credit because it was like shooting ducks in a barrel. But fuck, they came out to see me so I should give them something I know they'll enjoy.
I was so paranoid of going too long that I only did that bit. When I saw how long I went on I realized I over compensated and only went 5 minutes. That really sucked because I could've easily thrown in another bit and given my friends a more justified reason to come. They seemed to have enjoyed it and they all really liked Betsy. Once again she worked with the crowd, interacted with them, had fun with them. Same material as the night before but she gave them a personal context for it. Impressive. I took many mental notes.
I picked her brain a little after the show. She was really cool and talked about how important it is not to be an act on stage, just be yourself doing bits. That's definitely the comedy I'm attracted to. I'm really animated because of derby and emceeing, but I only want to rely on that to enhance a bit and not be the bit. My mission is the material. She was great to talk to and gave me good stuff to chew on.
Backstage I talked to the guest comics and they were really cool. I asked them about Seattle and the other clubs, getting in etc. None of them knew me so I think it was weird for them to see me host. They thought I was from out of town. I got good input from them about what's going on around here and how to get in to some of the joints. They were all really nice and helpful. I hope it can be more like that and less like a scene. We'll see.
Tomorrow the circuit guy comes. I have to have my shit down for this. Even if he isn't interested I want to give him the best that I've got.
Lesson: Preparation. It is important to have your shit together and not fly by the seat of your pants.
Backup lesson: Read and use your audience. It's the difference between dying and killing.