A couple weekends ago, I was talking to a fellow comic about the Sunday Night Funnies show in Grand Rapids, MI, and we agreed that it's almost TOO good of a room. The place is always packed, the crowds are usually way into it, and it can be a massive ego boost to do well there. After performing in bars where everyone's trying to talk over the guys with the microphone, or doing sets to crowds small enough that no one wants to be the first to laugh and disturb the cathedral-like silence of the place, SNF is a tonic, a place where your crowd sounds like a crowd on a TV show.
The problem is, once you leave there, you go back to doing sets in those other places again. I wrote my last blog while high on a seductive whiff of that temporary crowd buzz, stupid on my own vapors, and then I did some shittier shows and came back down to earth again. It's been a little bit since I flat-out ate it, but I had some crowds recently that maintained that respectful patter of half-interested laughter, and that was as far as we got together. Not every show, but some. Too many.
I like my material right now, but I'm at the point where I have to start tailoring sets to rooms, and I'm still working on that skill. I'm also at a weird point where I have enough decent stuff that usually works, that it's getting hard for me to want to try out a shaky bit, or work on honing something, if it's gonna come at the expense of a tried-and-true bit that will make more people laugh. I can see how older comics get in that comfort zone and just stop writing - it's hard to do five minutes of tested, honed stuff and then deliver a brand-new bit and get silence. It kinda hurts a little, so it's hard to keep doing it when you can so easily avoid it.
I gotta start spending some more home time writing, and really going over my material. I want every piece of my set to be in there for a reason, so I gotta go over it all and make every word justify its existence in the lineup, or out it goes.
I got to perform at LaughFest over the last two weekends - I did a semi-pro showcase set on the 11th, then went back up on the 18th for another one, and my third Sunday Night Funnies stint. I also got to do a guest set at the Connxtions Comedy Club in Lansing, which is a great place with awesome people on staff.
I had a little scare in between, though, spending 24 hours in the hospital with chest pains and heart-attack-like symptoms. I inherited hypertension like a mofo, and I had an aortic dissection in 2004, and I should be taking care of myself better than I do - I got some new meds, got the blood pressure down from its stratospheric levels, and went home. I still had sticky tape residue and a sore arm from my IV when I did the second LaughFest weekend.
The shows went okay - Lansing's set especially went well, I thought - but I had some melancholy moments in there, I think partially due to getting used to the new meds. There were a few points while driving or sitting around waiting for something to happen where I wondered why the hell I wasn't at home. The sense of adventure temporarily left me and all I had left was halfway-okay sets, uncomfortable places to sleep, sad afternoon drinking and mediocre food.
Head's on straight again, though, and I'm eager to get out this week and hit some shows. I'm doing a 20-minute set this Wednesday, possibly going up Thursday in Detroit, then doing a show at a resort in Belding (near Grand Rapids) on Saturday. Gonna go over these jokes with a fine-toothed comb between now and then, remember that it's a privilege to be on stage, and enjoy the hell out of myself while I'm out doing it. My time is too short for cynicism to get in there and spoil the game.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.