Monday, July 23, 2007

What it's Like to BOMB!

Your best friend calls and tells you that you've been given a slot for a very prestigious open mike, that's by appointment only, in exactly seven weeks. So you spend about four weeks writing. Then you go back, and write another four weeks worth. Then you decide that it's probably better to just scrap this and start all over again.

What happens next is the frantic panic of "I got to remember every word of this." "I got to remember every word of this." "I got to remember every word of this." "I got to remember every word of this." That's the mantra you devour every breath, every microsecond of your day, every ounce of your life's blood. You can't sleep without reminding yourself, "I got to remember every word of this." And when you wake up, "I got to remember every word of this." Never once do you think, "The first word is...." which is the smarter way to go.

You should be doing things like paying bills, walking your dog, feeding the fish, or bathing. Maybe lance the boil that's seeping and crusting. Or, call your boss and say why you're not coming in and hope that being frantically posessed by a monologue is a valid excuse. Then, call your co-workers, and invite them to the show, because you're expected to have at least ten people on your guest list, or you won't be invited back to the club even if you make the owner laugh so hard he wets himself. And, that is, what you want to happen.

This is, after all .the wittiest monologue ever written by a human being since the dawn of mankind. No other comedienne alive today, or ever born has ever come up with such concepts, or such observations, nor likely will ever do so, and therefore this will be a historical moment in the club, if not the history of time. And are aware that no other comedian, living, dead, televised, or radio broadcast, could possibly be thinking of such things. Until someone brings you your birthday gift, of a 1965 recording of Lenny Bruce talking about the hacks of the 1950's who used to perform acts about the exact monologue that you just decided was the best thing ever written.

Then you go online and realize that nearly 345,568,321 monologues exist regarding your very topic, and in this year alone 2 million were posted on YouTube. You have three days until your big night, and you have to write something. You have to memorize something. You have to make it come from your voice. You have three days.

Since you have such little time, you think of the stand by stand up motto- "write what you know" and you begin to look around. You see a very hungry dog that hasn't eaten nor been walked in weeks. You see an answering machine with 32 messages from your boss, wondering if you'll ever make it in to work and if your monologue has been cured. You look up at the window, at the reflection of the massive boil, peering out from under your hair, and realize, YOU are a monologue, and begin to write long into the night, until your five minutes of material is complete.
Then you begin the three hour mantra of: "I got to remember every word of this." But, with time no longer a luxury, you must test this material out at an open mike at the nearby Bar & Grill. There is no way around this. No comedian can simply write and perform and expect the material to be perfect, unless s/he as skilled an improv artist as some get... Some are better at improv than writing. But newbies sometimes think they are, and just don't get it. They don't read the crowds, and come across as pompous, and lose the crowds. Or they come across as too stupid and lose the crowds by talking down to the them. You can be as hateful and awful as you want and still be one of them. It's just a matter of showing the crowds that you're part of their fun, not part of their anxiety..they spend their life in anxiety, they don't need it in their entertainment... but I digress.

You show up at the pub, and there are 11 guys playing darts, a woman with a note book sitting at the bar, smoking an entire pack of Camels, and drinking a Cosmo, while reciting three words she's been reading from the front of the notebook. She's there for the open mike. Another boy, about four, is grabbing her leg, asking her to buy a french fry, but she hasn't seen him in six weeks so she won't see him now. There is another pair of girls over by the pool table comparing breast reduction scars. By the microphone is a large Mexican man fiddling with a battery, attempting to turn on the microphone, not realizing he hasn't plugged it into the amplifier, still parked by the juke box. He's new. The man with the clip board is talking to the white boy with the guitar, who is just not pleased that there isn't a pickup amp. However, no one has ever used a guitar at this open mic before, so this is the way things are done. It's 9pm, and there isn't a single person sitting at the tables in front of the stage.

Clipboard boy mutters a bit, grabs the microphone from his brut-like friend, plugs it in, and turns it on. After the squeal stops, people realize, it's comedy time, and the dart game ends. The bartender turns off the Jukebox, and the breasty-girls get up and leave. You get pointed to, and are told, "You go first".

No emcee, no intro, just grunted, and that's it. You forgot your first sentence. Why? You're still thinking of booby girls and french fry boy. Then you remember you have a starving dog and you pick it back up. But it's too late. You have no rhythm. You need the rhythm to make the joke funny. Cadence is part of the funny. You can talk about anything you want if you say it right, and it will be funny. A single word is hilarious. Kumquat. Hilarious. It goes down hill. Not even the bartender, who usually laughs at anything said by anyone is just staring at you like you're bleeding from the eyes. then you wonder, maybe that the boil is just too big, so you reach for it. You've made the mistake, again. You grab a body part that you don't want noticed, and now, something no one ever knew about is what EVERYONE sees.

Two more minutes left. Are they kidding? Is this torture? He gave you an extra two minutes to try to turn it around because he saw you there before. Do something you've done before. Do an older routine and get ONE laugh. You have done this, this is not your first time on the stage. If you blow this, it will be worse tomorrow. You have one last sentence in the routine, and you can save this. Nothing. Not a single response. Except. One.

The kid. "Mom, is he done yet? Can you go up so we can eat now?"

Uhm. I guess cutting your hair was a bad idea.


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