Tough Crowd: My first time bombing at stand-up!

So on my third try at stand-up comedy….

I bombed.

Oh yeah!!

A guy from the other open mic recognized me and asked if I’d go up there– he was in charge. My friend was bartending and I knew she wouldn’t relent about bugging me to try it– so I did.

I thought I had some solid material.

The room was so much different than the other place I’d performed those first two times. It was the back room of a small restaurant, sectioned off with a partition in the wall. It was only comedy and music– and most did comedy. There was a small stage, and the crowd was facing me, dispersed equally throughout the room.

This time, it was a bar. The stage is way bigger,  the room comparatively huge.  People were interspersed throughout, talking. A lot of softball teams were there drinking after their summer leagues. It was all live music– I was the only comedy performer that I’m aware of.

I took a few minutes to jot down some ideas. I felt good.

And….. apparently over-estimated myself.

I got some stares–definitely– when I started out. Ha! But not laughs.

Once or twice, I might have gotten a few towards the end. I didn’t really look at anyone… tough to tell. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking?

I’m not going to repeat my ill-chosen material here– because I plan to recycle it.

I think I was up there three minutes, maybe five? I glanced at my paper a couple of times. Before, I’d just gotten up there and talked.

Who knows what contributed to my anti-climactic performance? It doesn’t matter.

Afterwards, I sat down and asked my friends what they thought.

“You are above this crowd,” one friend said.  “Only a few of us could appreciate the material.”

“It’s really loud, hard to hear you,” another said.

My bartender friend had cheered for me in the beginning but apparently missed most of it, distracted by duties. “There was a fight,” she said. A few fights, apparently.

I asked another guy, “Was any of that funny?”

“I was outside. Did anybody boo you?”

“No.”

He smiled. “You’re good, then!”

I guess. I’ve got my first story about a “tough crowd.”

Now I’ll just find the funny and make it work next time.

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9 comments on “Tough Crowd: My first time bombing at stand-up!

  1. Jim Reardon says:

    Every stage is different and brings a different crowd. Sometimes you just don’t fit in at all and there’s nothing you can do.

    I still remember the first time I was in a show where the crowd actually hated us. It was terrible. It was part the crowd not being on the same page as us, part that there were other acts way above our level, part us just doing a bad job. Ooph.

    • Jim, you’re so right about the setting playing a vital role– it changes atmosphere drastically. I knew this streak couldn’t last! lol

      Wow, they hated you? What did they do?? It’s good to hear you speak with humility. I definitely realize that my material was not ideal for this audience– it made me realize how difficult it really is to do broad comedy. I could talk about bad dates forever– everyone relates to that. But really, I don’t want to get stuck in that gimmick. It also did not help that the majority of the audience was men– and several of them cute. Oof.

      Next week, it’s happening again– but there will be other comedy acts. Maybe I’ll have the guts.

      • Jim Reardon says:

        Oh they booed us. Admittedly we actually prompted them to, but they took to it way too quickly and added a few choice comments with the booing. It’s weird with improv versus stand up. In improv in general the audience is on your side, and sometimes enjoys the show more if you fail. With stand up, the audience hates you and if you even start to flounder they get mean.

        Doing stand up that is appealing to a broad audience and not dirty is tough. Or maybe it’s just harder and most stand up comedians are lazy.

        Not that I’m against dirty comedy (I have Louis CK tickets after all…), but it’s pretty tough to actually make interesting jokes in such a well-tread area. A lot of people think they can just shout profanities and it’s funny because you’re not supposed to say those words!

      • You TOLD them to boo you?? LOL THAT’s something! Sounds memorable, to say the least. I didn’t know there was such a difference between improv and stand-up– I’ve only seen improv live a few times, beyond drama club at West– at Improv Olympics, and Comedy Sportz. Of course, TV.

        Good to know that with stand-up, the audience categorically hates you. With that in mind, I’ll consider any iota of a positive reaction a success. 🙂 I think in general though, people enjoy comedy that is mean and biting in some way or another– either self-deprecating or gossipy, or so outrageously offensive that you can’t believe a person would actually say that. It seems like many comedians make a point to offend as many groups as possible, to ignore all pretense of being “P.C.”– and the more offensive, the better. When I watch “roast” specials, I can’t get over how cutting some of the jokes are–it makes me wonder if those comedians are masochists! But it also seems that it’s seen as a sign of respect– if they spare anything, they’re not trying hard enough. And the more the “guest of honor,” can take, the more lauded they become.

        I’ll never forget Bea Arthur at the Roast of Pam Anderson– all she did was stand there and READ Pam’s book. She outlined the plot, which was clearly inspired by her life.Then turned and said, “Pam, where do you come up with this shit?”

        It was so perfect! The prose was ridiculous, and she did it totally deadpan. Somehow, it was the best jab anyone got all night.

  2. You’re friend is on the money: if no one heckled you or hurled an empty bottle in your direction you did okay.

    • Thanks! 🙂 But I’m half-deaf, so I wouldn’t even likely know if anyone heckled me unless they were close to the front and quite loud. Sometimes my lack of hearing is a blessing! lol However a flying bottled is something I would notice.

  3. Jason Looney says:

    I still need to have you watch that piece from Comedians of Comedy where Patton and Maria Bamford talk about horrible crowds, you’ll love it.

  4. […] She told me it was the latter– roughly 1.5 years ago. I actually blogged about it, HERE. […]

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