You know, it wouldn’t be quite so bad if they’d hold comedy open mics in the shower areas of 24 Hour Fitness centers. At least then it would be easy to shower and squeegee off the stage after each “no-talent wannabe” shit all over it and left his/her “garden snail” slimy trail as they departed. At one such popular open mic comedy spot in San Francisco last week, I had to follow a comic who’s “act” was to first admit to everyone AND get them to repeat after him: “I am a BACK DOOR SLUT”…which wasn’t even the bad part relatively speaking. This was followed by (brace yourself please…because he certainly had to) This was followed by his slowly inserting a large carrot in his rectum for the “shock laugh”.
He had a slit in the back of his boxer shorts. I’m not going to go into specifics of how, but YES, we in the audience had no choice but to clearly see it was wedged VERY thoroughly in his ass, as he slowly and painfully shuffled…VERY slowly like a garden snail leaving a trail, off the stage. The crowd at this comedy spot in San Francisco gave this act one of the best responses, with any comics doing good quality standup material being all but ignored as a general rule for the whole “show”.
It is actually at a mind blowing epidemic level, the degree of ignorance and unprofessionalism I’m running into lately, trying to do occasional comedy spots in the Bay area. It has become so bad, after only 15 minutes you routinely feel like not only your physical body is filthy, but you feel like your SOUL ITSELF needs a shower!
You realize how suddenly you want to be anywhere BUT there, yet you have to subject yourself to this seemingly endless parade of puke masquerading as comedy, in order to wait your turn to be able to practice a 3 to 5 minute set. With the exception of a recent show produced by Justin Lafferty that I headlined, more and more it seems like the area is inundated with unprofessional doper types who don’t know how to write a joke, let alone produce a show.
Tonight at a venue in Oakland was no exception. To take the high road and be nice, I won’t actually name the location and producer/host of the show because I am going to be brutally honest about how bad and unprofessional it was. Let me just clarify that I drive four hours round trip to donate my time (oh, you do get one free drink and maybe tips from the audience, and only if you stay till the very end for the hat to be passed). Like I said, I donate my time and significant travel expense with gas and tolls.
I kept my hopes up it could be a quality scene, only to discover even the host is regularly high on marijuana, admittedly smoking dope on his way to the show. His clothes wreaked of weed when I met him at the door. The one other time I did the show a month back, I observed him smoking dope outside personally. I don’t know why I gave it a second chance tonight, having been invited a second time, but I did…only to again realize I completely wasted my evening and had to make a miserable two hour drive back to Sacramento afterwards. You live and learn.
This scene is becoming way too typical…it is not the only one like it that is becoming more and more commonplace. It is not an open mic, it is a “showcase”. Yet, despite that fact, many of the comics amazingly come on stage unprepared, reading off of notes, or off of their cell phones, not having their material memorized, and 90% are completely and absolutely not funny. The upside (I always try to look on the bright side of life) The upside of my experience tonight was that no one shoved a carrot up their ass…or if they did, it wasn’t on stage for applause, and that kind of discreet decorum I have come to realize is very underrated!
Unbelievably, even the pothead host of this evening’s shitty ignorant experience could hardly come up with one actual joke to get the audience laughing to start his own show. It was as though he hadn’t even prepared. He starts using his hands like they are puppets, not making any sense, talking like they are on a public transit bus, repeatedly saying “Step down”…and the other one would say “Back door”…this was repeated at least 3 times as he yelled way too loudly into the mic. No one had a clue what the joke was supposed to be. “Haven’t you ever rode a bus?!” he yells again at ear numbing decibel levels into the mic. He wraps up the bit to no laughter and the sound of crickets basically, as he introduces the first comic.
She comes on and among other things talks about how she wants to wear doctors’ scrubs so she can get away with going around dressing sloppy and shabbily: “No that is not a spaghetti stain, that is blood from the biggest glory hole you ever seen of me delivering babies” – I’m not doing the vulgarity of it justice. And this was really truly mild compared to a lot of what is said at these shows by people who can’t write and are just going for nervous laughter.
But a lot of the other ‘wannabe comics’ in this younger generation laugh at material like this and support each other because they can’t write either, and this kind of ignorant shit is like what they come up with that they can’t even take the time to memorize for their audiences.
They don’t memorize their material because they have no professional discipline and they generally share a ZERO attention span. So the ignorant vulgarity they call their “act” that is not even worth memorizing to them, they all just agree among themselves is ‘comedy’ when it is nothing even close. And GOD FORBID you dare call it the shit that it is! Because then suddenly OH MY GOD! You’re a bad person! When the truth is the laughably the complete opposite. Ironically most of what these wannabes are saying and advocating with their ugliness on stage is constantly and absolutely reflecting they clearly do have horribly bad character. Their “acts” are generally all about “Hey, Look how vulgar and ugly I am!” And that’s sadly what they think is ‘comedy’ today. Let me give you another real world example from this evening’s “Toilet Bowl Extravaganza” (Damn it, I promised I wasn’t going to reveal the name!):
A black comic gets on stage and thinks he needs to use the N-word left and right so the majority white audience will give nervous laughs to that. He repeatedly refers to his race as the N-word at nauseum. Toward the end of his stagetime, he proceeds to single out transgender people in Oakland and denigrate them, talking about how recently it ‘happened to him’ that he met a girl who turned out to be a man. He goes on denigrating transgender people longer than you’d expect, saying that’s what he hates about Oakland.
As he isn’t too pleased with the audience response, he blurts out:”You know what, Fuck You, you guys are horrible” to the audience. He’s beyond horrible, we should be saying this to HIM, and he’s offended at the audience for not giving his shit act the laughs he wants.
A couple minutes later he angrily says(and I’m not making this up either) “I want to invite all of you when you leave, to go and kill yourselves”….then he nervously adds, “I’m just kidding”. As I write this, sure it reads funny and you get a chuckle from that, but it is the result of someone with little to no talent, being a douche-bag on stage instead of a comedian, and just angry that he isn’t getting the laughs he wanted from the audience.
So OF COURSE, I have to follow this douche-bag, halfway wanting to riff on why dumb asses like him still feel like it is perfectly fine to call their race the N-word profusely, or maybe to offer a live suicide hotline counselling from the stage for the audience, but resisting that urge to keep from making fun of him from the stage. I start doing one of my popular, already proven bits (clip below) about how Hollywood and the TV Networks have replaced ‘Must See TV’ with ‘Must MASTERBATE TV’ (See the good laughs this bit has received in front of the last audience I used it on as posted below from youtubehttp://youtu.be/NbHuhhFFA94
Anyways, unbelievably, the unprofessional “weed addicted” host decides to cut me off in the middle of my act after telling me I could absolutely count on 10 minutes of stage time. I carefully planned my routine for that amount of time. I can’t stress how disrespectful it is for a host to do that to a comic. He totally changes the time allotment and almost derailed my set.
Fortunately I was able to salvage it for the most part, but his bullshit of repeatedly ‘lighting’ me way before my time was up, huffing and puffing from just off stage where the audience could see him, acting like he was going to walk up on the stage while I was trying to wrap up, after letting the others before me go the full time was such a ridiculous and unprofessional thing to do at that point, that I couldn’t help but be seriously distracted. I stumbled to try to wrap up early, instead of being able to hit my upcoming punchlines to bring my material to its proper funny finale.
Afterward, forget trying to explain to this individual how crazy wrong and unprofessional his behavior was. He’s been smoking his weed, and I very likely offended him with either my making fun of dope users in the bit saying how Anderson Cooper is now catering to ignorant viewers by changing the name of his show AC 360 to AC 420 – or maybe he lives in a trailer and got offended that I joked about how with “Honey Boo Boo” and “Fuck the Duck Dynasty”, forget “Must See TV”, Hollywood is now “Must Have a TRAILER and KY JELLY TV!”.
When I spoke to him outside immediately following the experience to explain how disappointing his actions were after I had driven 2 hours one way to support his show for free, this unprofessional host first corrected me and said, “No, you aren’t doing it for free, you get a free drink”.
Then, he actually tried to play the asshole card and say my material wasn’t funny, despite the many laughs consistently throughout the set that he had to totally ignore in order to make such a claim. I mean, this place isn’t a ‘loud laughing’ audience in the first place, and it is not a big audience either, so you can find plenty of spots where it was quiet for sure during my set, but there were also plenty of obvious laughs, and where they weren’t laughing most of the crowd was intently listening, which for me as a comic is just as important and rewarding.
I just simply informed this jerk that it was material that has already proven itself every time I’ve performed it since I wrote it (see clip example from link above). I even taped it this evening, and the tape shows the regular laughs from the audience throughout my set. It is just a trend of ignorant behavior in the standup comedy scene, admittedly most commonly experienced OUTSIDE of regular comedy clubs – often from hosts and producers of shows – who don’t have a CLUE how to behave professionally, and have the attention span, if not the character, of a METH HEAD.
NO WONDER HOLLLYWOOD HAS FORSAKEN “MUST SEE TV” FOR “MUST MASTERBATE TV”…they’ve apparently just decided to EMBRACE this growing ignorant reality. This doesn’t bode well for quality comedy, but it bodes well for dopers, trailers and KY jelly stockholders!
(Be sure to check out Connie Bryan’s standup and comedy sketch impersonations at http://www.conniebryan.com)