Last night when Yogi picked me up I clambered into his mom's car with my microphone and amp. "Why are you bringing that?" he asked. "The booker called and said there was no PA." Sadly this was not the first clue that the show we were about to go to would be a horrible mess of sadness and souls crying and comedy dying. That shouldn't have rhymed. We picked Emmett up and had a nice hour long or so conversation about puppets, beards (Yogi's and Emmett's, not mine), movies I haven't seen, getting high and bottom intercourse in the bottom hole.
As soon as we get to the restaurant I read the "Family Fun Restauraunt!" marquee and groan. In bright clip-art style font: "Kids eat free on weekdays!" Seriously. The waitress goes "You're the comedian? Honey, you look like you're 15." Which isn't too surprising, except I hadn't spoken yet. I don't look like I'm 15 I SOUND that way. And without any sounds coming out of my squeaky childlike lispy mouth, there is no way to guess that. I took it as a compliment because I could tell by her sparkly studded belt that she thought 15 was a pretty cool age to be.
Almost immedietly the owner of the restaurant attacks us and tells us that the comedy shows have been going really poorly and that no one has been funny. He said it like an angry accusation that already he had decided we weren't funny, as I watched out of the corner of my eyes the waitresses moving the kids tables and high chairs out of the way to create space for the comics to stand. He proceeded to tell us that a local guy was going to open for us and he was bringing 40-50 people and that he'd never gone up before. I said that was fantastic of course he can do a guest spot if he's bringing that type of crowd. "Yeah," the owner of the family fun restaurant says, "so he'll be getting his half hour." "Half hour?" I said. "He's never gone up before? Realistically he'll probably want to do 3-5 minutes for his first time." The owner exploded, "I have had calls coming in asking about this guy all week! I have had more interest in him than I have in any of these other comedians who I've never heard of before. He's getting his half hour of time."
The average age of the audience in the more redneck version of denny's is 60. They all look like they're about to fart or die. This new guy James had brought maybe 6 people instead of 40 and they were all just like really out of it, like they were high but I don't think they were. Just staring into space not facing me. I opened as the mc with attempting to fire it up (they cheered and clapped as much as I would expect them to in a well lit Denny's.) I did my condom joke and the greedy stripper. The condom joke got laughs in weird places but worked. The greedy stripper bombed. I brought this new guy James up and he played some cheesy intro music and danced a bit. Then he sat on the stool. (Used up all the energy with his intro?) and for half an hour he talked (no jokes) and ate shit. He didn't seem to care that he was bombing. I ate my veggie burger and drank my two beers quickly trying to quench the despair rising inside me.
After James I went back up and proceeded to start to do jokes. I did maybe two jokes. They wanted a relateable comedian who they could watch and laugh at and be like "oh yes women do go shopping! I can identify with that! Commonality makes me feel less insignificant and boring!" I don't have a lot of relatebility on stage unless the audience also has spent a few days not leaving their apartment because they're afraid that by interacting with their friends and family they're making everyone's reality worse. When I started going into my Hulk joke I stopped and said "Do you guys know who the hulk is?" Nothing. I stumbled verbally. "What kind of jokes do you guys like? I have hundreds I'm sure I have something." Silence. I addressed a guy in the front row. "Sir, what kind of jokes do you like?" "Nah, you doin fine, you doin good." "If I'm doing 'good' then why aren't you laughing?" Nothing. I started bringing random audience members on stage to try to warm them up. When I brought two women on stage and tried to talk to them who looked bored one of them told me, "Well fuck this joke, just do the next one!" and ran back off the 'stage.' I moved on to singing songs to people in the crowd and started doing better. I got a sing a long going and decided that was as warm as they were going to get.
I brought Yogi up and he did well. He just did his material and didn't address the crowd or talk about how much it sucked. I could tell that he was miserable up there. He got off stage looking really down and I brought Emmett up. Emmett had the best set. He didn't do a lot of his alternativer stuff but mainly did stories and tried to engage the crowd. That whole night Emmett was kind to everybody, even the bar owner who was a short angry man on the verge of yelling, the new guy who did half an hour, and the booker who had no idea what the fuck a comedy show was supposed to be. Fact: it should not be in a family fun restaurant. I wished after seeing Emmett's set that I had more story jokes. My favorite line of the night was when he was telling a story about his wife and he was talking to the audience: "How long have you folks been married? 23 years? That's older than Barbara....'s self esteem! Anyone else been married longer than 2 weeks?"
Yogi is one of the most hilarious and hard working comedians I know. He's got a special talent, especially for riffing/thinking on the fly/being in the moment that most comics don't. He is one of the most creative and unique voices I've ever met. He's an amazingly funny person and comic, consistently getting better and he's one of my best friends. And that show made him doubt himself as a performer. So you might wonder, was it worth it to get $30 and a free burger and two beers to do a shitty room? Sure. But was it worth it to make a hilarious friend of mine feel bad about himself? Nothing is fucking worth that ever. That room is where comedy goes to die.
The only good thing about doing completely awful family fun style hick restaurants with senior citizens as the audience is that comparitively I won't be scared of those snobby hipsters.