My Fiftieth and Fifty-first sets this year came at two different venues in two different states. My first set was eight minutes long and occurred at Potomac Grill in Rockville, MD. Overall, this was a pretty good set. A few joke punchlines fell flat or did not fit the audience (maybe a little over their heads) but it was a great opportunity to work on crowd work and ad-libbing. In fact, I got my biggest laughs on things I improvized. That isn't normal for me... but nice to know I have it in my arsenal.
I followed that up with an eight minute set at The Soundry in Vienna, Virginia. I found this set to be more consistent and better overall. Despite a smaller crowd (made up of mostly comics) the jokes went well for the most part. I used a combination of new jokes and crowd work to get laughs. During the set, I used crowd work and messing with the audience to lead into a written bit.
Erin Jackson (who is really really funny) once told me to focus on individual people when dealing with a sparsely crowded room. When a room is empty, people tend to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortable people don't like to laugh... so it is important to engage them and bring them to a place where they want to have a good time. This is great advice by Erin and something I have been working on.
Tonight was not spectacular by any means but it made me a better performer. It wasn't the night where everything clicked... but it was very important to getting to that moment.