Through all the years of my life, I have come to the conclusion that I am good for two things: Getting myself into awful situations, and living to tell about it. Some of these involve alcohol, some involve medications, but ALL of them include my general dumbassery which, far outweighs the effects of anything else. These are the stories. Don’t judge me.
Not My Proudest Moment: Bombs Away
It happened early.
Less than a minute into my routine, and my worst fear was realized.
I was bombing. Badly
Sweat started to bead on my brow and as I looked out into the crowd, where roughly half of them were there to see me do this, the level of dread grew exponentially in my gut. The genuine smiles and laughter that was shared as I got onto the stage and stepped up to the mic, had quickly switched to forced chuckles and pained smiles from the crowd that was now beginning to see what I was already feeling. I was tanking and everyone in the room knew it. And as the fat girl dressed in multiple shades of pink, walked by the stage and offered her pearls of wisdom (“you better tell funny fucking jokes”), I was officially a flushed turd.
The bartenders knew it, the crowd knew it, and I am pretty sure the microphone even knew it as it started to cut out on my punch lines like some sort of mercy killing. It was that bad. Think about that, the equipment killed itself rather then let me continue. I am not sure how often that happens, but I am willing to bet its less than the Cubs winning the World Series.
And I still had seven minutes left. Seven-fucking-minutes. The first three felt like an eternity and I still had more than twice that time to slog through. Who the fuck decided I could do 10 minutes? What the hell was I thinking? And who is this stupid girl in the front row that has decided that she needs to have a conversation with me while I try to salvage what is left of my dignity?
So I did, what I told myself I wasn’t going to do. I abandoned the routine that I had hastily thrown together earlier in the day in my garage while trying to entertain my daughter. A routine that, upon my limited audience I practiced in front of (i.e. me) seemed like it would work tremendously well with this room of people. At one point, I even caught myself daydreaming of a standing ovation as I dropped the mic and walked off stage, victoriously.
But that fantasy flash was gone now, and so was the aforementioned routine. Def Con Red had been reached and I swiftly slammed my hand down on the panic button. I told the hefty girl in pink, “to die in a fire.” The chit-chattin’ girl in the front row was called ugly by me, twice. And not even in a creative way, I simply looked at her, and told her that, in no uncertain terms, that she was a bucket of yuck. I decided to kick the chair over that accompanied me on stage in hopes of grabbing the audience’s attention back upon the thunderous crash it would generate when it hit the floor. Except it never did. It tipped over, sure. Buy and it stayed upright, leaning comfortably against the wall.
Perfect. I can’t even kick a chair over now.
I started insulting my friends that were in the audience next. I ripped on my buddy James’s hair and Bo’s lousy football jersey felt my awful venom next. And once that didn’t work I decided to dump the rest of my payload into doing dick and vagina jokes. Dick and vagina jokes. It was hacky, awful and morbidly fucked. It was the real life version of Gigli, and I was the retarded kid that J-lo and Affleck tried to protect (yes, I watched that movie and remember the major plot points, so what?).
And as all of this mayhem was playing out on stage, a quiet whistling sound had grown into a screeching howl in my head and culminated into an explosion as I saw the show’s promoter waving me off stage. The bomb hand landed, and it was nuclear. Hiroshima and Nagasaki rolled into one, smack dab in the middle of a dumpy sports bar in the East Bay of San Francisco.
I thanked the audience (even though I didn’t mean it. Seriously, they couldn’t laugh at ONE joke? Not even the one about my sweaty asshole? Fuckers), chugged my beer and got the fuck off the stage. As I went to the green room (smoking area outside), I noticed that the rest of the comics from the night were scarce. No one congratulated me, no one said a word to me. In fact, there was no one there. They left. Or maybe they were in the bathroom, I’m not sure. What I do know was that I was alone. Alone and able to flash reflect on the verbal car wreck I just created. And all I could think was, “Christ I need a cigarette.”
I don’t smoke. Every time I have ever had one, I always wake up feeling like I licked a dead cat’s asshole. My mouth becomes devoid of saliva and the scratchiness makes me wonder if I had gargled with rocks the night before. But for some reason, a cancer stick seemed absolutely glorious right about then.
Out of no where, my friend Drew appeared, heater in hand and a lighter on his thumb. Sweet Drew. Beautiful Drew. My hero. My bald, angry, smoking, hero. I lit it up and stood there in silence, enjoying the years I was taking off my life in that moment. As I did this, my friends and family started trickling out to try and console me under the guise of congratulations. It was hard to take them seriously though, or even hear them over the devastating laughter coming from the room for the other comics. Oh now you laugh at the dick jokes?
And my group of people meant well. They tried to cheer me up, telling me that it “took guts to get up there,” and “it isn’t easy.” Well, sure, but it also wasn’t funny and not being a complete dolt, I was able to sift through their well-intentioned bullshit and dine on the red meat of what they were trying to say. They weren’t impressed, and quite frankly, were somewhat dismayed at my performance. Sort of like how my first time having sex was for that girl I did that with, I imagine (kidding of course, I was brilliant that night).
Fake praise and prop-up speech aside, I still didn’t feel better. Why was this affecting me like this? Usually if I fail at something, I shrug my shoulders at it, and move on. Not this time, however. I could tell that this was going to stick in my craw for awhile. I would wake up the next day and fumble through work in a daze.
Texts poured in from people who went, thanking me for inviting them (another work around of the real issue of me shitting up the stage). A message from the guy who promoted the night, telling me that I wouldn’t be able to work The Improv in San Jose that night (due to time constraints…or due to my fucktardery on stage the night before). I understood, I wasn’t mad. In a way, it was sort of a relief. I went back to working, and life went back to normal. Beautiful, boring, normal. Welcome back, normal. I missed you.
Work went into the evening and I found myself at dinner with co-workers and clients. As we drank our beers and shot the shit about a myriad of topics, laughter began to dominate the conversation. I told stories about how I was attacked by a pygmy goat in The Bahamas, how my daughter, Chloe, sticks her tongue out while she twerks (she is seven months old and every time she “Miley’s,” she becomes grounded for another year), and poked fun at each other. With each barb and joke, the laughter grew. Genuine laughter from a captive audience.
And as we said our goodbyes for the night, one of my customers came and gave me the business bro hug (that awkward half handshake combined with that arm barrier hug thingy, while wearing slacks) and said, “Hey man, you are pretty freaking funny. Ever think about doing stand-up?”