by: Travis Irvine
I’ve done comedy on and off since 2003, and have lived and performed in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Columbus, and now, Washington, D.C. Ironically, after all these years, I’m still not funny! Ha ha! See? Even that wasn’t that funny.
However, living in these different cities and doing comedy at various open mics has allowed me to study something a lot of comedians haven’t, and that is comedian cliques.
Yes, it turns out that comedians are as cliquey as cheerleader girls in high school…just less hot and not as boner-inducing. In fact, it’s kind of like being the new guy in high school: you show up on your first day; no one talks to you except a few other new people; you get put in front of everyone; you’re nervous; they judge you harshly because of your small boner; then reject you for the next few weeks until you do something so awesome and cool that all the girls think you’re neat and the guys want to beat you up because you’re going to prom with the head cheerleader. Small boners be damned!
[Hit the jump to read what Midwest city Travis thinks is a "comedy mecca". Hint: I am moving to Columbus, Ohio.]
In big comedy scenes, like L.A. and New York City, I saw different cliques for different open mics. One clique went to a certain set of open mics for the week and another clique went to another set. I experienced the same thing in London (no cliques of American comics, unfortunately), and saw similar situations while visiting Chicago and San Fran. In Columbus, a “veritable comedy mecca”, there was only one comedian clique because only five open mics existed, in addition to a weekly showcase at The Funny Bone. Even in a city not known for comedy whatsoever, it was the same deal for your first time: you show up and no one talks to you until they deem you funny and/or cool.
I’m happy to say that Washington has been the most accepting comedian clique I’ve experienced yet. Granted, I had a few friends already here, but overall, the scene offers the same opportunities as a big city with a smaller, friendlier core. One week you’re the new guy, and next thing you know, you’re eating mayonnaise in front of 10+ comics for shits and giggles…well, mainly shits. Ha ha! Now that was funny, people, come on!
What’s interesting is that if a certain clique does get good, then everyone in it makes it. This is what happened in L.A. with the comedians on HBO’s “Mr. Show”, or with the comedians from “The State” in New York, and of course, with the “Second City” crowd of Chicago in the ‘70s. If a collective group of people gets funny to the point where people can’t not pay attention, everyone in the clique goes along for the ride! Yahoo!
So I say, embrace the comedian cliques you will encounter from here on out, and understand it’s all just part of the process. If you’re really funny, eventually you’ll be eating mayonnaise and fucking the head cheerleader so hard it won’t matter how small your boner is. Ha ha! Callback city! Anybody on that one? No? Okay.