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September 27, 2004: When Good Comics Go Horribly, Horribly Bad

Folks, you're in for a treat here. This is just about as low as comedy can get. See, there are a lot of obstacles and hazards in a comic's job. You've got hecklers. There are the disinterested types, watching TV or having loud, drunken conversations during your set. And, on really special occasions, you've got a roomful of rowdy punk rockers. But none of those, frankly, compares to the very worst thing a standup can face:

no one at all

Actually, as it turns out, that's the second-worst thing a comic can face. The very worst thing is no one except the other comics who've come out to perform that evening, sitting in the seats and staring glassy-eyed through each others' sets. Comics don't often laugh at other comics' jokes, you see. Something about the delivery, or the premise-punchline formula, or something, but it's particularly hard to get a rise out of folks who are doing the same thing, night in and night out.

(I suspect it's like that in other jobs, too -- there's a certain amount of professional courtesy, but it takes a lot to really impress a peer, you know? Like what I think of as a bonfire, a fireman would sniff at and dismiss. Or the stripper boobs that I'm drooling over, another dancer would go, 'Eh. I've seen bigger.' It's a little like that, only without the fires and the girls taking off their clothes.

Yeah, suddenly comedy doesn't seem nearly as exciting as it did ten minutes ago. I hate it when I do that.)

Anyway, this is truly a bottom-of-the-barrel show. I'm warning you now. There were about a dozen of us hanging around to perform, and we sat through each others' acts, and laughed politely once or twice, but basically, there was nobody there. A couple of girls came in, stayed for a couple of sets, and left. Otherwise, it was just us and the crickets. And mostly crickets, at that.

On the plus side, I'm sure this counts as a 'learning experience', so I've got that going for me. Of course, given that ninety percent or so of my shows are 'learning experiences', I think I've actually hit my quota for a while. A great show with a giggly crowd and a packed house might not build 'character', dammit, but it sure does boost the old ego. And after this show, I could use a little bit of that. Stat.

Download Clip of 09/27/04 Set --
Cantab Lounge, Cambridge, MA (6 minutes, 45 seconds):

>Charlie in comedy mode
(Click photo to enlarge)

MPEG Format -- 35MB
RealMedia Format -- 11MB
Windows Media Format -- 5MB

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