I rolled up to the club on my skateboard, wave “HI” to the general assembly of smoking comics outside.
I walk in.
Find the host.
Get my name on the list.
Order a beer.
Find a table.
Take a seat.
The vibe is not good tonight. Before a single comic has taken the stage, I can tell that there is a laugh shortage in this room.
The host takes the stage, starts his opening set. It’s not funny, and only 3 people are giving him courtesy laughs. I’m not one of them. I don’t believe in courtesy laughs. My objection to them is rather philosophical. I immediately assume that the rest of the comics here withhold their own laughter out of a fear of making someone else look cooler than they are.
I just don’t think that very many people are really that funny. This host is certainly not.
And so there I sit, like a parched camel jockey in the middle of the sun-fucked Sahara desert, issuing philosophical objections to the gods about the condition of the desert, thinking that if I criticize this part of God’s creation enough, the Culligan Man will show up in van and deliver some icy cold barrels of water.
Super Nate has not yet arrived, I’m tempted to call him and warn him that there are lots of sharks in the water today. I decide to let him show up and discover it for himself. He stormed off the stage last week, 90 seconds into his set, because the room was so dead. It would be good for him to redeem himself. Yeah, I’m a good friend. I know.
Even the showcase comics are bombing. (For those of you that don’t know, at an open mic night, often there will be “showcase” comics who have been asked to do a longer set, usually 10 minutes, because they are more “accomplished” comics. The open mic comics then get 5 min each).
Laughs are scarce.
It’s finally my turn.
I felt relatively prepared, I had 3 jokes loaded up that I have done before, but this time they were honed and even better. Furthermore, I had the story of the boob kissing cops of SLC to tell. I was pretty sure the laughs would roll tonight.
I started into my first joke and immediately felt kind of lost. It flopped. Started into second one, it went limp, too. I thought about starting into the third, but instead I just started into the story about the Salt Lake City Police Department “vice squad”. I deliver a few lines that I found hysterical.
I deliver a couple more truly choice lines.
I try another.
I’m getting pissed and embarrassed, but on a meta-level. I’m meta-pissed: Yeah, it sucks that I am not funny, but the situation I’m describing is fucking hysterical and a fucking outrage to all liberty loving people. How could you not react in some way, to this story about the SLCPD? Fuck it. I drop the facade.
I start yelling at the crowd.
Am I even alive? Is this just a stupid dream? I cannot even get anyone to BOOOOO at me!
I yell more.
WHAT??? THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!
I realize that my time is up, my Titanic has sunk, they are Rose and I’m Jack. I have to tell them one last thing before I slip away into the depths and leave the stage.
This is a group of people that will laugh reflexively every time you mention
- abortions performed with rusty coat hangers
- hatred of brown people
- the repulsive characteristics of your own penis
- addiction to masturbation
I HATE predictability in comedy, so I stay away from these topics as much as I can. But tonight, I went there.
I did it.
I drop a punchline about the Salt Lake City Police Department Pedophilia Task Force.
15 hours later, it still stings. The plan is to do a set at Wiseguys tonight. Honestly, I don’t want to. Even though I had a great set at Wiseguys last week, I’m still stinging from last night. I don’t know if I can make my feet move, one in front of the other, to go up on that stage tonight. I’m going to do it though.
I’m not here to get laughs.
I’m here to climb a mountain.