I’m of the last generation that still has an inner Bully screaming inside its conscience. A harsh voice that creeps up anytime I think a thought that doesn’t agree with the mentality of the late 80’s, early 90’s era.
It happens when I put on a scarf: The word “faggot” pops into my head, as if keeping my neck fashionably warm were a crime against my sexuality. I’ll tell a girl I don’t possess the ability to drive stick, and hear “pussy” slowly chant its way to the forefront of my psyche.
‘NERD!’ is being yelled at me right now as I finish this very sentence. It’s pathetic, dumb, and a ghost of a time when that mentality flourished.
Often I have fantasized about what it would be like for that blonde douche from those 80’s movies, if he were somehow teleported to today’s Portland. Bewildered on a busy street, giggling at lesbians holding hands, black skateboarding Trekkies, and purse wearing men.
He laughs a solid hour, but eventually crumbles in sadness when society mocks his outdated mentality and women shun him for geek sheik folk artists. (NO ONE TELL HIM THERE’S A BLACK PRESIDENT).
What we haven’t realized yet (and what Billy Zabka already knew) is that being a Nerd doesn’t mean you’re automatically a good person. If you ever watched the ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ movies, you assume the underdog Tri Lambdas are the good guys. (While completely ignoring the fact that one dons a mask and rapes a girl who’s too drunk to tell he’s not her boyfriend)
Of the hundreds of adorable people I met and performed for in North Carolina this past weekend I received one complaint, apparently there was a patron who thought I played the “race card” in my performance far too often. Help me out here.
What exactly is that? Why are black people so susceptible to it’s definition?
Open mics are like slaughterhouses. We all want the meat, but few of us have the guts to get down on that killing floor to witness the carnage and appreciate the process. Beautiful jokes are prime cuts of expertly carved funny meat. What ends up on your plate is the end result of a long gruesome undertaking, which is the practice required to hone the skill to make it look so easy. When people see Louis CK, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman or Russell Peters perform they buy the ticket, enjoy the show and go home with those memories. They don’t see the failure that went into reaching that polished level. There is a lot of effort involved in making it look effortless, many levels to get there, and open mics are one of the most important.
To many people open mics are not seen as important. They can be excruciatingly awkward at times. Other times open mics downright offensive and even frightening. During our mic people have asked me questions;
“Is it always this misogynistic?”
“Is this mic supposed to be this offensive?”
“Do people make jokes about race a lot?”
“Do comics do a lot of homophobic material like that?”
It’s late Friday night and a comic hears a knock at his hotel room door. A half dressed cutie stands there and says, “I saw your show tonight and got so turned on that I want you to make love to me tonight!“. The comic asks, “Was it the early or the late show?“.
There is nothing a comic takes more personally than bombing. Most would rather be accused of a crime than to be exposed to the uncomfortable stares of entertainment inadequacy. You never see it coming. The Bomb assumes its position when you least expect it. There is no clue as to its arrival, no prep for its ire and certainly no remedy for its results. Pre-bomb symptoms often take on flu like qualities. They include a sudden hot flash, a tightening in your vocal area, watery eyes, confusion and that one bead of sweat that develops somewhere in the middle of your back and rolls precisely through ass crack center. No matter how physically comedic or rhetorically gifted you are nobody is outside of its realm of influence. Many years ago I performed at the HBO comedy festival in Aspen and watched George Carlin stop in the middle of a taping and opt to close a showcase show later that night because the audience just wasn’t there for him.
Somewhere over the Rainbow…. If George Carlin can bomb, why oh why can’t I.
There are many ways to handle the Bomb, but as a comic who has experienced it few times and witnessed it many, I wanted to offer a few options as to how to address the humiliation with your head held high.
I was originally going to title this ‘How to Compliment an Entertainer After a Live Show’, then I thought I really shouldn’t speak for musicians because I’m not one. So I figured ‘How to Compliment a Comic After a Live Show’, would work, but I disagree with other comics on so many things it is wrong for me to assume they would agree with me on… all of this.
So, here it is, ‘How to Compliment Tommy Drake After One of His Shows’.
I’m so glad you came to my show and I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it. I wanted you to have fun and you wanted to like me and that worked out. This is great. Now, you have a moment where you are going to say a few words to me on your way out, less than a minute of our time together, please don’t ruin it.