Friday, January 4, 2013


On Thursday I performed two sets in our nation's capital...

I started the night with a really good seven minute set at RFD in Chinatown.  RFD is one of the best and most supportive rooms in the area.  On top of being incredibly supportive and run by great guys, it is not uncommon for over a hundred people to come out and support local comedy at this Thursday open mic.

The only downside of RFD is that it can be TOO supportive.  The audience is polite and tends to support comics (from first timers to pros) and most jokes good or bad will get a laugh of some kind.  It is almost impossible to bomb in this room (though I've seen it happen) and as a comic with three years and 600+ sets under his belt I should do well in this room... and I did.

My second set on the other hand was a completely different story.  Though I will not say the name of this room or the people that run it... I will say that I won't be returning.  I do not like blaming rooms or audiences for bad comedy but this nameless room was the exception to the rule.

To paint a picture... here are a few of the many reasons why this was an awful experience: 1) As I walked into the room, the host of the show was being loud, drunk and literally having a conversation with someone else during the comic on stage's set.  Note: when I say "conversation"... I mean he was obnoxiously yelling at a person on the other side of the room while the comedian performed literally 5 feet away.  2) The bartender was heckling and interrupting comics  3) During my set, one of the guys running the room came up to me and made small talk with me DURING my set.  As far as interruptions go, that was a first.  Did I mention he was drunk?   4) There were five audience members and three of them had their back to the person "onstage" and we're either talking or not paying attention.  At one point during my set, I tried to engage one of the audience members by talking to him directly.  I asked him "how are you doing" three times.  He made eye contact me and stared... but refused to respond.  No words.  No nods.  No grunts.  That was another first for me. 

(Note: I could keep going with reasons why this room was shitty... but my complaining already feels unhealthy at this point)

Again, I hate blaming rooms and room runners for bad shows.  Bad shows build character and comedians need to learn how to get laughs under less than ideal situations.  However, when comedians are getting interrupted and talked over by people running the show... why should an audience member be expected to pay attention and respect the performer?  Comedy show runners (especially when they are comedians themselves) have to know better.  I don't expect other comics to be overly supportive and laugh at everything other people say... but shutting up while another comic is on stage is the smallest request that anyone could ask.

All this being said, there are always lessons to be learned.  In comedy, you have to learn how to write and perform.  You learn how to be more comfortable and you learn how to be funny.  You also have to learn how to bomb gracefully (something I still need to learn).  Some comedy shows teach you how to box... some teach you how to get punched.

Though based on these two shows... I feel like I went from winning the lottery to getting shot in the face.

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