Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Story, In My Eyes

Both things were unexpected. One, that before the show started I was so sure my piece was going to go badly and, two, that Dick-Joke-Guy was so unimpressive, it put me at ease again.

My approach to comedy is to tell a story. Think of Bill Cosby, Robert Klein, George Carlin. Then think of some CPA/CFO who can only wish he told comedic stories like they do. I take a real piece of my life, twist it out of shape, draw glasses and a mustache on it, squirt whipped cream down its pants and then tell the audience this is the way I found it. I imagine this is funny.

When I walk into the comedy club, I become aware that I am old enough to be the father of most of the other comics and nearly old enough to be grandfather to the rest. I become aware of this even when it isn’t true and some of them are within ten years of my age.

The audience, likewise, is, in its entirety, made up of 20-somethings who came to hear jokes about drugs and dicks, liberally decorated with fucks and shits and things of that nature. Again, I perceive this to be true even though it isn’t.

Last night when I walked into Go Bananas, the first comedian I saw was a young guy talking to his fellow, youthful, comedians about some skit he was writing, “consisting entirely of dick jokes.” Everyone in the audience was a friend of these kids and was anticipating jokes about Kanye West, Axe grooming products and pot. This was true even though I had 11 friends in the audience and, anyway, pot belongs to my generation more than it does to those youths.

For a moment I contemplated what my friends would think if I decided I didn’t want to go up. I didn’t remember feeling this unsure of my material ever before. Why did I think the part about preschool would be amusing to anyone? For sure, this will be the last time I do this.

The MC came on. An older comic was the first amateur and struggled with his material (though he seemed unfazed by the struggle). There was another guy and then Dick-Joke-Guy went up. He had a piece of paper with his jokes or notes about jokes, which he referred to throughout his set. His material was very uneven. I laughed, I sighed, I got bored and glanced around the room. As I watched D-J-G, I knew that I would be okay. He was not as I had initially perceived and neither was the room. I knew my story, I had the glasses and whipped cream ready, and I’d been up there before. I would get some laughs, maybe have some slow spots, but no one would throw anything at me and I’d sit down and enjoy the rest of the show.

There were some better comedians than me up there and there were some worse. I didn’t forget anything, I didn’t go over my time, I didn’t bomb, I didn’t quit, I didn’t throw up, I didn’t cry. People laughed. They laughed where I expected and even laughed at the preschool bit. They laughed at the jokes and not at me – I think - it's hard to say with those lights in your eyes. Still, that is the last time I ever do standup. That is true, even though it is not.

The last picture is of my friend, Alex Stone, a very talented comedian, young enough to be my son, but who was not at GB last night.


Susan said...

Any video?

JohnnyB said...

I have video but I need to acquire a cable to hook the camera to the computer and upload

mark hoback said...

Re Dick J guy: you don't write dick jokes out on paper unless it's a tissue...

Now that would be funny.

JohnnyB said...

In retrospect, I was too hard on Dick-Joke-Guy (no pun intended - really).
He wasn't that bad and he was a nice guy. But his performance, being pretty amateur, honestly did make me feel more comfortable.

JohnnyB said...

ps - I do have the cable I need. It's the USB plug from my old Blackberry. I just didn't realize it since it didn't come with the video camera and I have not tried to upload video from this camera before. The younger comics would have known this.

Anonymous said...

I was there and you were very funny!

Jenny said...

I would love to see the video!!