Monday, April 24, 2006

Jokes for Geriatrics

When you say "the worst gig ever", it needs to be put into context. "Worst gig ever" seems definitive, but it's too vague. Why was it the worst gig? How was it the worst gig? Well, I wasn;t physically threatened, I did get paid as agreed, there was a little heckling, but nothing to speak of.. but I have experienced less silence in a vacuum.

I definitely hit a milestone Friday night at the Melha Temple in Springfield doing a show for Shriners. I was told ahead of time to "keep it clean" by the booker.

When I arrived at the show, I was somewhat horrifed to find that the show was actually for the shriners themselves and the median age of the crowd was about seventy-five.

Not HA-HA 75, but rather ACTUALLY 75. The youngsters of the group appeared to be in their late 60s, and I instantly knew it was going to be a tough night. I called a buddy with years of road experience, and when he got done laughing, (which took considerably longer than I had hoped it would) he offered me a silver lining involving not having to work for that particular booker again. Hardy-har-har.

The booker was at the show and to his credit, apologized profusely, which I thought was cool of him. Apparently, he had no idea the show was for elderly folks, and he even told me I could end a bit early if it was at brutal as he expected it to be. Of course, a little pre-show re-con would have been preferrable, but I was grateful he was understanding.

He also hosted the show. The guy did about ten minutes up front and got a few scattered laughs, but it was obvious it was going to be a tough night. For one thing, they didn't announce us as comedians, but rather some sort of production company. As I circulated the crowd before the show, hoping for some sort of fodder I could throw out there that they might relate to, I discovered that noone even knew there was going to be comedy. More good news came when it was announced that there would be no alcohol served during the comedy show.

Ouch. A bad situation was somehow worsened.

I played it safe and opened with a little self-deprecating intro that has never failed...until Friday, that is. I got a few nervous chuckles and ZERO on the adored tag line... "gulp, here we go" I thought.

I tried not to betray my utter dread and appeared happy as hell to be there. I remembered an old school legendary comic talking about the importance of likability, especially in situations like this, so I congratulated the knew Potentate (read: Grand Poobah) on his position, after all- this whole weekend was in his honor. In a room of 175 people, I got three claps. Three f&*%ing claps for the potentate. Uh-oh. Then I mentioned what an honor it was to perform for the Shriners, a wonderful group of folks that does so much for kids.

Nothing. Nada. Not a freakin' PEEP out of these people. Each joke was met with stark silence, injlcuding material about the Red Sox that I had yet to fail with. I got a few chuckles during a few of the routines, but in a huge room of almost 200 people, a few chuckles sound like crickets. It was almost quiet enough to hear y tear drops hitting the floor.

When I mentioned that, I got one of the few genuine laughs the crowd ponied up.

The comedy booker was howling in the back of the room throughout my set, more through astonishment at how bad I was bombing than by way of enjoying the material. I had destroyed in two shows for the same guy two weeks before using mostly the same material, though I had definitely homoginized most of it for the occasion, dubbing it "the Methusula set".

All in all, I have never been in front of a crowd that big and got so few laughs. The good news was that a couple of old friends from college got to see me perform for the first time, mentioning aterward that it "looked painful".

Well, I can't wait to get back on stage this coming weekend. After a couple of lame shows, I am pumped to get to do The Comedy Lounge in Hyannis. I have heard nothing but great things about this club, the audiences, and the comedians on the bill. They are known around local comedy cricles for having really strong shows, and I am psyched to be of one of those shows. I think I am also heading down to JImmy Tingle's Off-Broadway tonight to do a spot on Mike Donovan's show again.

The best thing after a debacle like Friday is to get right back on the horse, er stage.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counters
Free Web Site Counters