So the club comedy ladder to success roughly works like thees.
You start out as an MC (i.e., host).
Den if yer good enough and have enoff material, you kin be a feature.
And one day if you survive "the game," you can hustle your way into a headliner spot.
That begs (or maybe panhandles) the question, where does the elusive guest set fit in?
Well, I'll tell you what. A guest star on a TV program is usually a movie star who has lowered their standards for a small chunk of time for the purpose of prostituting themselves and their career on a small gray screen as opposed to a ginormous silver one. But still, the point is, people still get excited! People watch! People coo! People ooh! whaddhya mean movie star on da tee-vee?! just tell me when and what channel!
By contrast, a comedy guest set is not quite as glamorous if you don't have the name recognition to back it up. Don't get me wrong. It's still impressive to be on the same bill as working comedians, but a guest set is also a timefiller and unless you're a special unannounced drop-in whose last name rhymes with Crosby or Steinmeld…it will probably be a tiny taste of amateurs gone wild (I only speak for my own act, so keep your panties bundlefree)!
So I had a guest set last night at the DC Improv. Thankful? Extremely so and other suckity-uppers. How did it go?! The guest set itself was fun. I had a good time! I made people expel puffs of air in guttural bursts. I left no premise unturned (this is a blatant exaggeration). I think I lost them a bit at the end, but you know, you're supposed to get the audience crimping for more professionalism. That's yer job and yer place in the entertainment social hierarchy.
is this thing on?
photo courtesy of Flickr and hiddedevries
But the weird part was what happened after the set. Y'see, how you feel about your comedy can be kind of superficial sometimes. And as much as I want to say I'm not dependent on external praise, well, that's just exactly it y'see, I'm dependent on external praise. That's part of the reason many (if not most) stand up comedians do comedy.
Sometimes I value a set by how I feel I did. But it's easier to be like Well, so-and-so said I'm awesome, and so-and-so is important and holds power. Thereby, I can feel good about myself until this high runs out, and I need to go back to my dealer (i.e., another show).
Or more realistically, Well, so-and-so didn't even talk to me, and so-and-so is important and holds power. Thereby, nothing I do is or has ever been of any consequence so I need to go home, write another angst poem, and put on more black eyeliner immediately!
Here was the guest set fallout, boyeee:
The headliner wasn't even aware I did a set. And fine. Why should he know or care?
But it was sad when I told him "I liked your stuff" and he looked at me like "that's nice. Why should I care?" And I was thinking "Well, you shouldn't really care."
But I think he sensed the desperation in my eyes because he was like "Are you a comic?" And I said "Meep. Yes."
"Are you local?"
"Did you go up?"
"How was it?"
"Oh, fun! The audience was a little weird though, you were right." (he called them weird! Not me! I was calling back to his set!)
"Yeah well, that's the kind of people I bring in."
*half turns around and walks away*
Awesome! Really glad we talked! Thanks for the advice! Has anybody perchance seen my sandhole?
The feature act was kinder in acknowledgement, and said "G'job, sweetheart!" with a medium-firm handshake. I liked everything except the 'sweetheart' tag. It's one thing if a male comedian would have gotten the exact same praise but somehow adding the 'sweetheart' to the end was like candy-necklacing the whole gesture. To candy-necklace is a verb I just made up that means 'trying to sweeten something up but creating the opposite effect.' Like if you put a candy necklace on a mean person…not only does it fail to make him or her sweeter, it grates at you even more that such a vile person is wearing a candy necklace.
Finally, the peanut gallery of postshow appraisal (which refers to the audience coming up to you after a show) can often flavor an otherwise blasé night savory and rich. The weird thing is I got no feedback from any women. Sometimes women don't like female comics, or maybe I didn't "speak" to any of them. I mentioned my period once. I don't get it.
Oh wait, I just remembered. I did get a smile from an Asian girl. But I don't know if that was intentional or if I was just in her line of sight and she was one of those always-smiles-to-prevent-any-and-all-possible-confrontations types. But here were my other earnings (I identify by race for my own useless purposes. It's not of any importance or weight so lay off!):
**old white man who said "nice work" in a very serious fashion (I like that I have a fan contingent in the old man department but the fact that he gave me this compliment while half-frowning makes me feel iffy about that whole thing. Like it was community service or something.)
**middle-aged white man who said I did great (he leaned across a circle of people to say this which upped the self-esteem boost a little higher than usual…he went out of his way!)
**tall buff black man who shook my hand and said he enjoyed the show (he could have said that to all of the performers but I choose to believe he decided to shake my hand and praise me to my face on behalf of the entire lineup plus he was so tall I was really tickled he even looked down to acknowledge me – my head came up to about his kneecaps).
**small asian man with distinctive ears (nodded rapidly and said "I really liked your stuff" AND shook my hand. I wanted to lie down after this compliment. It was powerful.)
**youngish white man with unidentifiable accent who was pretty effusive in his praise of me but said it the way you would say it to someone who needed their spirits raised (but was also a loud heckler at the end of the show which made me a little doubtful about whether his praise should even count or not), and then he tried to tell me a joke that I didn't understand at all hence rendering the social interaction a failure overall.
In conclusion, the night was a success!!! And earlier that day, I got to cuddle a puppy, and she was so excited about it, she peed on my foot!
a giddy attack of self-esteem
photo courtesy of Flickr and nouveau
Welcome to Your Comedy Layover...
Monday, November 5, 2007
So the club comedy ladder to success roughly works like thees.