This week marks seven years of me doing stand-up comedy as a professional. Since 2008 I’ve called myself a professional comedian. Those two months after February 2008 were me being essentially being an asshole because my next paying gig wouldn’t come until December 2008.
I obtained my first gig off the strong performance that I gave after I had won a contest at my college. Now in hindsight this wasn’t the best contest, but it was a Bill Cosby impersonation contest. Now I didn’t win it by drugging the judges. I actually did his dentist bit and didn’t try to do the impression of an impression of Bill Cosby. I had won the contest and won front row tickets to his show that was going to be on campus the next week. After I found out I won they asked me to do the impression again. I asked if I could do my own material. I did and it went well.
A few weeks later I totally ate it at the actual stand-up comedy contest that our college put on. I didn’t stand a chance. I followed a girl who did a parody of some Usher song which roughly had to do with her pooping. My energy wasn’t there I knew that she was going to win just by the cheer enjoyment people got out of it. My other mistake was starting my set out with, “Oh, I didn’t write any jokes about taking a shit, so this might go poorly.”
Luckily, a week later a girl in one of my classes asked me if I wanted to be the opener for the stand-up show that was going to be happening later in the winter. I found out that the person who is in charge of booking stand-up at my college saw me perform after the Bill Cosby contest and thankfully not after my performance in the college wide stand-up contest.
I had to prepare 10 minutes of comedy for a show that was essentially 2 months away. I think I had 10, but it was probably less. The other thing was that I had nowhere to work on material to make sure it was good. There was no place that I could go that would be a good gauge of if my stand-up would work. I essentially had to run it by friends in their dorm rooms which is always what someone wants to hear. “Hey I have this bit I’m working out, want to sit there in silence while I tell you it?”
My one time to perform was at a campus wide talent competition. I was the only one to do stand-up which I felt gave me a leg up in the, “Hey this isn’t a guy playing a song on guitar” category. I didn’t win anything, but I felt a lot more confidant afterwards and a lot better about myself than my last set.
In the week leading up to the show I honed in the 10 minutes like a mad man. I timed it out and I tried to hold where I thought laughs would be. I had my 10 minute set down to a tee.
The night of the show I find out that the headliner is not going to be able to make it because his flight was cancelled. SO it was just me and the feature act. The feature was going to do his time and then do the headliner’s spot as well. As a joke I asked if I could do a little more time. The response to that was could you do 20? I said yes for some reason and immediately needed my notebook of jokes. I had someone run to my dorm and get my book and bring it back to the show. Luckily I got there an hour before had so I had way too much time to pine over what jokes to add to the end of the set.
I don’t remember a lot about that set. I know that the primaries had just happened so I did a joke about that. I did a joke about my Dad and being bad at technology and how he became an ordained minister online and not only did weddings but did baptisms as well. I did a joke about what I called a “Woo Girl” the girls that go to the bars and are always drunk and yelling “Woo” and how that there is a fine line between Woo and Whore.
I did my 10 minute set and then pulled out note cards and explained to the crowd that I had not prepared for another 10 minutes of jokes. So if jokes didn’t work it to not feel bad. I wasn’t planning on doing them. In my back 10 half I did jokes about being on Jeopardy and how the contestants have smart professions and there has never been a contestant who used to be a meth dealer. I also did a joke about the phrase, “Are you having fun yet?” in regards to a shitty job. I would take that questions and just try and sound crazy by responding with, “My Mom invented Triscuits!” That phrase turned into a callback by the next comedian.
Luckily the whole set fine. I got some kind words from the other comedian and the rest of the night I was riding pretty high. It kept me motivated, it made me want to keep getting on stage and keep writing.
Hopefully 7 years from now I’m still doing stand-up. That’d be pretty cool. Actually, if I’m doing anything comedy related that’d be cool. Stand-up, acting, writing; I don’t really care. Comedy is pretty cool. So just being able to do anything with it is pretty amazing.