Day 7, 8, 9… whatever.
I’ve been playing catch up with these things since I’m doing them daily, but honestly nothing really interesting happened in the last couple days, so I’m just gonna post today’s.
I did this twitter festival thing called “Twestival” tonight in downtown LA. It was a charity event where 100% of the money raised goes to dig wells in impoverished nations. When they first asked me to do it I thought it was a great cause, and I always enjoy being able to help out with things like this and I liked that it was for twitter, because I use their site and service all the time. Plus, I think as a stand up comic it’s good to perform in unusual situations and venues every now and then to keep your act sharp.
Stand up comedy is an art form of connection and communication. It’s a rare art form in that it requires the response of other people in order for it all to come together.
I think it’s good to mix that response up every now and then.
If you only work in polite comedy clubs then you only get that one vibe. Sometimes you’ve got to do a rowdy bar, or a weird alternative room. I think mixing it up like that helps polish bits by giving you completely different environments to work in.
It helps cut the fat in jokes sometimes and you appreciate how important it is to have economy of words. The point is, I like doing weird gigs, but this one tonight was a doozy.
It really was nobody’s fault; it’s just that the room wasn’t really set up for people talking.
When we got there a DJ was playing this booming techno music like the opening scene from the movie “Blade,” and I noticed that there were no seats. Standing only, loud music first… I thought – hmmm, this could be a weird place to do comedy.
The other comics that I was performing with, Dov Davidoff and Nick Thune saw the set up and had a similar reaction.
We all looked at each other and laughed, “How could this possibly not suck?”
The band went up, and they were rocking out having a great time. People were dancing and drinking and talking really loudly to each other, and then the band finishes and they pretty much just shoved Dov Davidoff onstage with no warmup.
For a comic it was one of the worst set-ups ever. In my 20 years of stand up it was probably the least ideal environment to perform in that I’ve ever seen, and this is coming from a guy that’s done stand up at bachelor parties with no microphone. I’ve done some fucked up gigs, but this was really bad.
Once, in the flower of my comedy youth I MC’ed at a “Jack and Jill” strip club in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
What “Jack and Jill” means, is that there are guy dancers and girl dancers.
It was supposed to be some weird fucking concept where couples would go out to a strip club together, and this place was smack dab in the middle of this economically depressed fishing community filled with humorless immigrants, exhausted from horrible jobs.
As you could imagine, the talent pool at the strip club there was less than top notch.
There was only one guy and one girl dancer for the entire night and they went up in shifts sandwiched by my comedy.
The guy dancer was somewhere in his mid 40’s and he looked like he probably sucked his first dick for heroin around the time he figured out Santa wasn’t real.
He was such a weird fucking character. I only got to talk to him for a little bit, but the dude was so strange that if you could have followed him around with a camera crew and had full access to his life I bet it would have made a fascinating documentary.
Here he was not even remotely attractive, and yet he was a male stripper. I remember he had this weird thing where he would say something that he thought was somewhat witty, and he would wink at you and make a fake gun with his finger and pretend he shot at you.
It was seriously like I was in a hidden camera Cohen brothers film.
I couldn’t imagine that someone would hire this dude for the job, but there he was working.
He was a pro. He had toys, and balloons and different dances and different outfits for each routine – the whole nine yards. The guy had obviously done this a bunch, and he was grotesque. It was completely bizarre.
His head was swollen from vicodins and alcohol poisoning, and his flaccid arms were wrapped in bandanas to cover up tattoos that looked like they drawn on an etch a sketch by a drunk guy with hooks for hands.
I could only think that they probably hired this guy because he was the best one that applied for the job, and if that’s the case, what the fuck did the other guys look like?
As gross as this dude was, if you put him in a dress he would have been hotter than the female dancer.
It was a horrible disaster of a show. There was only about 10 people in the audience, and I couldn’t imagine them ever thinking anything was funny ever. They were just poor, exhausted, and beaten by this terrible hand that life had dealt them where they found themselves in this horrible shit hole of a dive in northern Rhode Island listening to me bombing onstage with my immature jokes in-between sexy dances performed by monsters. It was a fucking mess, but as horrible a place to perform as that was, it was still a better environment to do stand up than what Dov Davidoff went up to tonight.
The band had just been playing really loud music, and literally 30 seconds later Dov is onstage doing his first joke.
The fucking band is still onstage behind him gathering up their shit while he’s doing his act, and the audience was in full conversation mode. One of the band members actually started tuning his instrument while Dov was talking.
Not only that, but the acoustics in the place were just terrible for comedy. You just couldn’t hear the person on stage clearly unless you were directly in front of them.
A sizable section of the club was on the sides of the stage, and when you were standing there you literally had no fucking idea what the person onstage was talking about.
All the sound just echoed wildly off the walls. I was literally touching the side of the stage while Nick was up there, and I had no idea what the fuck he was saying.
Now, I’ve known Dov Davidoff for a while, and the dude is fucking hilarious. He’s an excellent performer, and a really cool guy as well. A lot of other guys would have fallen apart up there. I mean literally 80% of the audience was talking as loud as they could and he was up there trying to plow through and just get them to laugh and pay attention. At one point Nick and I were watching him from the balcony, and just when you think it couldn’t get any more retarded, the fog machine comes on (apparently it was on a timer) and it covers Dov in a gigantic fucking cloud. He’s onstage, he’s trying to do jokes, no one is listening, half the people in the room can’t make out a fucking word he’s saying because of the echo, and now he’s got fake smoke pouring down on his head.
He looked up at us in the balcony and mouthed “What… The… Fuck?” and threw his hands up.
It was fucking classic.
Dov got them going eventually, and the people in front that were paying attention and could actually hear him were laughing, but fuck it was a tough spot.
Again though, I really want to stress that this was nobody’s fault.
This entire event had been put together in a little over 2 weeks, and it was for an awesome cause. It’s not the fault of the club either, because they’re used to having bands there. It was a really cool club, and the owner was a great guy, it was just that the way the place was set up it was really difficult to understand the person onstage unless you were standing directly in front of the speakers and they really didn’t know this until the show started. Because of the way the speakers and walls were set up it had this crazy, small dead zone. You could literally step 5 feet in one direction and not be able to understand a thing, and 5 feet in another and you could hear perfectly.
What made it all enjoyable though despite the chaos, was that the audience was very cool and friendly. Even though people couldn’t hear, nobody got upset. One girl walked by us while Dov was onstage and was laughing to her friend, “He seems like he’s funny, but I can’t understand what the fuck he’s saying!” Dov got offstage and we laughed about the insanity of it, then Nick Thune went up. Nick is another hilarious young guy, and he handled the crowd like a champ. He kept his pace despite the fact that it sounded like he was performing using a Mr. Microphone in the middle of grand central station.
He got them to laugh, and he got them to pay attention, and by the time I got up there it was much easier because of him.
It was weird, but I got it rolling, and the folks that could hear me had a good time.
The bottom line about the night was that we raised a lot of money for an organization called “Charity : Water,” and they told us that they made enough money from the event to dig a well large enough to provide clean water for a town of 20,000 people.
Now, I have no idea if that’s true or not, but it sure sounds awesome.
I mean, if we can only make a well for 2000, it was all still worthwhile.
I had a great time, despite the crazy set up, and the audience was cool as fuck.
I hung around for a while afterwards taking pictures and saying hi to people and they couldn’t have been nicer.
Overall it was a positive result and an interesting night for comedy.