I was on top of the world, fresh off my graduation show (a show where you perform after you have completed a comedy writing class). My first time performing comedy on stage was a 15 person bringer (a show where you have to bring your friends and family to a club to get stage time). I overachieved and brought double that amount.
The crowd went into a frenzy once the MC, Ryan Reiss called my name. I get goosebumps each time I watch the video. Besides the birth of my son, easily one of the best nights of my life. I rattled off my jokes, fed off the energy of the crowd as they laughed hysterically at each well-placed joke.
After the show was over, strangers and friends alike came up to me and told me how much they loved my set. I thought to myself, ‘self, we good baby. We gon’ keep doin’ this!’ I kept it on the humble though. I was told that I would take my lumps but I didn’t know when and where.
Two days later and off the strength of my first performance, I’m offered to do a show in Brooklyn for a group to promote their new web series. I thought, ‘Wow, this is how it starts!’ and I accepted with no hesitation.
Mistakes Along The Way
The show was about a month later and I figured, I’m going to do my same set that I had honed for six weeks prior to my first show and I knew I had it down. No preparation needed. Bad idea. Mistake #1.
Mistake #2. Show day comes around and now I’m cramming. I was more worried more about what I was gonna wear than I what I was supposed to say. I was dressed like a Brooks Brothers model with clothes from Walmart.
Mistake #3. I did not know my audience. Since I had only one set under my belt, I didn’t have any other material. I had never done crowd work much less heard the term or knew what it meant.
At the venue, I had no idea when I was supposed to go up so I couldn’t go over my lines one last time and I got called up second. I was totally caught off guard but I had to go up there anyway.
I started off with my first setup, delivered the joke the same way I did my first night on stage and got… crickets. That was cool, ‘I’ll hit ’em with this one’.
The second setup, I forgot two whole lines which in turn made the punch fall flat. Then, on my very next joke, I got a groan from the crowd. They already didn’t like my opening, I botched my second joke and by the time I got to the third joke, they were turning against me.
I became so nervous, I mumbled through the rest of my set. ‘Why ain’t nobody laughing though?’ I recalled asking myself. I was numb. On my closing joke, which was supposed to be my strongest of the bit, I made one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a comedian. I made fun of one of the audience members. Totally uncool and uncalled for.
I was embarrassed and upset. But more importantly, I felt like a douche and a bully for picking on someone because I thought it would make me feel better to make fun of someone else. I died a horrible death that night. I learned if you do enough open mics in NY and bombing on stage in front of a real audience is a piece of cake.
I will never make those same mistakes again. It is an honor and a privilege that I get to share my story with people and they listen.