I am posting this as a follow up to yesterday’s post regarding performing for a near empty bar. The show was to begin at 8:30, but of course, there was hardly anybody there at 8:30! So, as we typically do, we waited….and waited. The longer we waited for more people to show up, the more that the people that were already there, left! We ended up not doing the show.
Even during that wait, I was contemplating on what to say. Sure, I have prepared material but, it would all have fallen on deaf ears. I intended to simply converse with the audience and try my hand at improv, in hopes of livening up that few patrons that were there. Ah, it would have been perfect too! There was a group of 3 girls, and one of them was obviously leading an alternative life style. Wearing short chopped up blond hair, bottle rimmed glasses and saggy pants. She was ideal for a lead in to a few jokes I have about gay marriage. I would have addressed them by improving the following, “Well, it’s nice to see audience members of the Ellen show here tonight! Hey, I voted for Obama! I support gay marriage. Why shouldn’t gay people be miserable too? It’s bad enough that they’re so happy already. They even use a happy colorful rainbow as their symbol! I could see some new problems with gay marriage though. Like, after an argument, who sleeps on the couch?” The banter is not totally hilarious, but when you are winging it like that with audience members, something really strange happens… they actually find it funny! ?There have been so many things that I’ve been scared to say on stage and sometimes just don’t say them, but when I venture to do so, I am floored at the response! There’s something about involving an audience and bringing attention to them in a “Hey, let’s talk!” sort of way. Take this last girl, for example. Do you think she’s embarrassed of being gay? Heck no! She’s out an about and wears her colors proudly! A good comic will get the laughs he can from that table and move on to another one. That table can now crack up at the target table of the next bit of material!
A key to all of this, in my opinion, is not to go overboard. It’s fine to point out the obvious and add some humor into it, but it’s a completely different story to insult people. Save that for the hecklers. The obvious observations are perfect for this type of “riffing” with an audience. Go to any stand up comedy show and watch how it’s done. A good comic will point out the obvious and fill the entire room with laughter that can hardly be contained! Pointing out the obvious is one reason a comic will often have self deprecating humor. While we stand on stage, the audience is already making stereo typical judgements on the performer. Things always stand out. In person, I look Arabic, so I will usually start my set by speaking only in Spanish. Then, after few moments, I’ll point to an audience member and say, “Look at that. I’ve already got you confused, don’t I? You’re thinking, ‘Man, Arabic sounds a lot like Spanish!’
Gets em’ every time!