My Third Year in Comedy
Somewhere in the drive from Los Angeles and San Ramon, I knew I wasn't going anywhere in comedy. I was doing the drive down once a month doing booked shows may appear like I am going in the right direction, but deep down inside, I knew I didn't have enough gas to get where I wanted to go. I want to see my name on a marquee and a line of people wrap around the building.
This all started with an open mic at Flapper's in Burbank my second year. My cousins came and saw me and the host gave me more time. A comic that has a show every Monday grabbed me as I walked off stage and asked if I could do her show. I said "I was from the bay and I'd need a month notice to get time off work." She said, "how about the 23rd?" And I said "I'm in." There, she got me in at The Comedy Store. Then other doors opened. It was that stupid and easy.
On one of my last drives back I had time to reflect on bombing at The Comedy Store. I didn't know how to deal with it because I held this venue in such high esteem. The only saving grace was the next night, I did the same set at HaHa Comedy Cafe in Silverlake and got laughs. The question I had was, should I go for broke doing this trek or should I do what nobody wants to do; work on all my flaws?
My third year in comedy was the hardest. I remember seeing comics 5+ years in comedy having bad nights because they put it on themselves. They were aggressive or offensive or had long blocks of silence between sentences. I remember thinking, they should know better. This is a booked show. Why are they doing this? Maybe they don't care. How can I stop caring?
I Rocky-ed. Acknowledging my weakness, I had to train and figure out ways to work through them instead of around them. I became obsessed with going to these late night open mics that will kick you in the nuts. We went to one in Livermore. It was mostly music and filled with patrons that like to use outdoor voice inside. But they gave us 10 minutes and they were lenient. There were five people paying attention. After the other two comics did their time, they would sit and chat with the five people. Instead of being pissed, I work to get their attention.
Tommy T's open mic was the same way. It's a big empty room with comics in the back and sparse audience. It's three minute sets and I would get two laughs at the top. Then slowly build. Once I had them at the one minute marker but tripped on my words and lost them. I had dinner with another guy that went up and he didn't get why I was upset. He believed in the Steve Martin philosophy, "persistence is a great substitute for talent". I believe in the L.L. Cool J song, Mama Said Knock You Out. Finally, I got an ovation.