April 17th, 2009

There seemed to be two main ways to get onto a New Talent Comedy Show: bark or bring. Barkers are those dickheads on the street going, “Comedy show tonight! Who wants to see some comedy?” Sure, the show has to be promoted somehow, but before stand up was on my radar, every time I saw some schmuck yelling on a corner about a comedy show, I groaned at the annoyance.

Bringers are shows where many of the comedians get their stage time by bringing a certain number of audience members to the club. For either tactic chosen to get the stage time, no one was screened. If you can make money for the comedy club, you can get on stage.

Preferring to harass those I know over those simply trying to mind their own business walking down the street, I told my friends to come support my new bizarre hobby.

I spent all day going over my plan and was plagued with a variety of silly concerns. Would I forget my jokes and what order I planned for them to go in? What if I missed the big red spotlight that told me I had one minute left? Would they kick me out of comedy forever? What if no one laughed? What if they laughed at me, but I couldn’t tell? Would I fall off the stage? They were going to mispronounce my name, right?

The show was at 6.30pm on a Friday at Gotham Comedy Club, which seemed like a decent time for a happy hour show. The show was a 4-person bringer. Worried that I wouldn’t reach my quota, I invited more friends than I needed, and one even brought a couple of his friends. As is ended up, I brought 8 people.

As the show started, the producer brought the six or seven of us amateurs outside to tell us the order of the show. There was another girl named Rachel, who was going on right before me. Were they really doing that? A mostly male show with two girls with the same name and we were scheduled back-to-back. Maybe the emcee did this on purpose because he had some Rachel joke. It was just too bizarre.

Standing off to the side, I tried to watch Rachel on stage before me, while I battled my nerves. She was an attractive blond with a hot body and a sweet voice. She mentioned she’d been in Playboy years before. They had to put me on after this girl?

There was nothing I could do about it. I took the stage and plowed through my material. Because I didn’t give myself time to breathe or even notice my surroundings as much as I didn’t give the audience time to laugh, I had time at the end of my set.

I finally took a breath, more to give myself a moment to think of what to say. “So the comic before me was also Rachel. She was Playboy Rachel, and I’m “Camp Brochure Rachel.”

The audience laughed loud enough that I couldn’t help but notice and smile. They liked it. It was a quick throw-in comment, but it was on the tip of their tongues and they appreciated the observation. It was a good note to end on.

My friends, of course, flattered me and told me I did well. This was true in that I didn’t freak out, shake like I was in an earthquake or pee my pants. These are, although small, accomplishment. Celebratory drinks followed.

A perk of the show was that I was given a video of my set. I had no idea how nauseating it would be to watch myself. Not only could I see every nerve, I’ve never felt fatter than watching myself on video. I understand eating disorders much better now.


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