How Bad Is My Old Stand Up?

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst: it’s in the high teens. I also looked like someone in their high teens in this video and I was actually 24. Yikes. At this point, I had been doing stand up comedy for 3 years. My material was as fresh as the food in an Applebee’s dumpster on a 93 degree day. I think some folks just gave me pity laughs because they thought I was 17 trying to be Zach Galifianakis. Key word TRYING, so relax I was light years away from any semblance to that. My dry delivery portion of stand up was ill-conceived, I know.

“Oh that’s so cute, he tried to be funny. Let’s clap for him. Does he have Asperger’s?”

Honestly, for most of this stand up, I am most likely drunk. The thing about stand up comedy is once someone finds out, especially folks you don’t want to find out, like co-workers, it’s over. From that moment on, everything that comes out of your mouth needs to be funny. Or you can have a funny story or one liner and someone will say “Oh, is this a bit you’re trying out? It’s not very good.” Or “You’re a comic? Really? Tell me a joke.” I am not a damn human jukebox, jag. Also terrible, when a co-worker randomly shows up at one of your shows and you immediately re-think your whole set or edit out lines or entire jokes.

“Fuck. Bill is here. I definitely can’t tell that joke now.” 

Even worse, imagine your new company that you have been hiding your stand up comedy alternate life from finds out you do stand up and enters you in the company talent show. No, not yourself, your new boss finds out and enters you in it without asking. Well, actually he did ask. I explicitly said “NO.” And he replied, “Oh too bad, you’re in it.” I can go into the detail but basically they said I could go Rated R (aka blue) with my set which I did. Really bad idea. Everything was dandy (getting hearty laughs from the 200 or so people) until I told a joke about blowjobs and suddenly all the laughs stopped. The 70-something-year-old VP had just walked in and was livid. Luckily, like most people, she just thought I was just “some 19-year-old kid” they hired for entertainment. I wasn’t fired luckily. And that has just been such a great story to still hear all the time from new employees as well. Just swell, guys.

“OMG, did you ever hear about that kid who did stand up in the company talent show? I bet he’s fired.” “Yeah, he’s not. That’s me.”

Or imagine when your mom and aunts show up to a show? Once my mom turned away from the stage watching me. “Hey Mom, you can still hear the jokes, they aren’t visual.” To be fair, I bombed that night. It was gross to look at. “How is he still up there? Does he know it’s this bad? Oh, he definitely just realized how bad this is. I just want to run up there and hold my baby and shield him.” That’s when your mom claps in the middle of a set up, “You can do it Danny! That’s my boy.” Punchline ruined, no recovery.


Or try being heckled by a 75 year old drinking pitchers of beer to her face at the Rhode Island Comedy Connection. I gave her the ol’ “Go take another shit in your Depends” line. Crowd loved it except she was a god damn tank with no emotions, it just intensified. “Have mercy, Mrs. Doubtfire.” Only got worse to the point I just ended my set. I lost to a geriatric looney that night. I mean, you just can’t reason with a drunk idiot heckler, no matter how much you feel like you’re “owning” them or how much the crowd laughs. At some point, it just gets awkward and the only way it ends is with either you or the heckler leaving. A lot of clubs, unfortunately, don’t pay their security or employees enough to give a shit, so you’re on your own. At least I haven’t been attacked but given my size, I don’t think that was a realistic issue to have.

Performing at open mics is probably the thing that deteriorates your soul the fastest but it’s a necessary evil to bettering yourself and improving your craft. If you want to do stand up, you need to perform at about 300 of them before being in a real show, and you still suck then. Even worse, like the video above, is performing at big bars like Lansdowne Pub at Fenway Boston where there’s SO much noise, terrible acoustics even with a microphone, distractions and drinking that you’re fighting for every, single laugh. I was competing against bands, professional ones, in those finals. Everyone in 2011 wanted to hear Adele and not a blonde-headed man child Baby Huey lookalike.

That’s only a tiny, insignificant glimpse in to what stand up comedy is like. I could go on: the 4 hour drives where your comedy buddy saves you from crashing while falling asleep, the strains on relationships, the peddling to friends and family for bringers to a show to get time and all the tips from people who never stood on a stage and performed in their life. The most insulting type of person is the one that says “Well, have you tried this” with 0 minutes of stand up experience. “Maybe I should give it a shot. Can’t be too hard, I think I’m funny. Is it easy to get in featuring somewhere? How much will I get paid?” Never call yourself hilarious. No funny person on EARTH calls themselves hilarious. It’s unbecoming. Oh and most of the time you’re making little to 0 money for a lot of that agony. Mostly the 0 kind. That’s why I love HBO’s Crashing because it’s 85% accurate to the painful road in stand up comedy. Give it a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.

So here’s my stand up. You can call me a hack or that I suck but believe me I have heard everything under the sun and this was a year or two before I started doing real shows at real comedy clubs opening and featuring for yes actual money. But enjoy, rip away!

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