Close a Door, Open a Foxhole
Having a good run of stage time lately. I kinda "bottomed out" a few weeks back, doing a few lackluster sets in a row that culminated in a terrible guest spot at Connxtions. I mean, not overtly-hostile bad. That would have been better. This was indifferent bad, the kind of sullen who-gives-a-shittitude that I never expect from people who got in their cars and deliberately drove to a comedy club. It was kinda bleak.
But I dug my heels in, tweaked a few jokes, and just kept going up. I had a few cool milestones recently - I performed at an outdoor music festival thing, doing almost 15 minutes and getting a great reaction from those who were listening. (To be fair, I had a sweet time slot, before everyone got too drunk.) I MC'd my first club weekend, opening five shows for Dave Landau and Brent Terhune, and all five went well - Dave told the manager he had no idea I wasn't already a working road comic, after seeing me on stage.
I even got to participate in my first roast, of local headline comedian Steve Sabo, and it was a blast. My friend Owen Thomas put it together, and it ran like a charm - there was a good sized crowd, I went up early and had a strong set, and then a lot of other people did great as well. I got drunk and vociferously defended my comedy brethren later, which probably got me on a few of the wrong people's shit lists, but I still can't bring myself to care. I'll at least be diplomatic enough not to name names here in public (if you can call a blog no one reads "public"), but I will say I met one of the most loathsome human beings I've ever seen in person that night, and hated them almost instantly. It was weird. You could smell the rotten soul on this guy like dogs can smell fear on mailmen.
Did a great new open mic last week at Andrew Z's Pizza Pub, where I really felt like I owned the place for my time on stage - very comfortable and confident, some new bits worked great, and I really feel like I'm getting a handle on pacing, pauses and crowd engagement. Not interaction -- not "crowd work" -- just stuff like eye contact, reading a room, finding pockets of laughter and really aiming jokes at them. It probably sounds stupid or motivational speaker-y, but as I get the hang of it, I believe in it more and more.
I ran my own open mic a couple times, had a lot of fun with it, and was hoping to make it a bi-weekly institution, but the club owners had their own ideas on how to run it. I'm looking for another room to host the event, but I'm kinda sanguine about it. If it doesn't happen, I won't be too sad. I did it, I got the experience, I had a lot of fun with it, and there are always more places to get stage time. It's kinda nice to go to a room and only have to worry about your own set, not getting everyone else on and off stage on time.
This is a very nuts-and-bolts update. But the excitement I'm feeling about standup is hard to put into words without sounding ridiculous. Just as an example -- this weekend I MC at Connxtions again, opening the shows. My friend Owen, one of the best comics around here, is featuring. And a guy named Charlie Wiener is headlining. I used to hear Charlie on WMMS out of Cleveland when I was a kid. He'd be on the morning show with Jeff and Flash, doing comedy or playing songs. He was a big local name, like Alex Bevan, or Donnie Iris, or The Numbers Band, or Michael Stanley.
Now I have this connection, from me in our crappy duplex on 2nd Street, listening to Dad's ugly brown radio in the living room, to me being on that stage, working with that same guy. It's still just a foot in the door -- it's just a toe dip in the pool. A lot of people would laugh at me making a big deal out of this. But a lot of people never even get to do this much.
Time to get to work.
11/22/2012 06:33:06 pm
This is brilliant insight. I am nostalgic of an era growing up in Cleveland with your fond memories of the many local legends. Great writing!
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Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.