The Yin and the Yang of Comedy


Tonight was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. Of my five shows this week, these were numbers three and four.

At 8:30, I performed over at Club Passim as part of their Cutting Edge at the Campfire weekend of back-to-back music. "Music" is the operative word here. I've done the Campfire once before, and it went pretty darn good, but tonight was tragic. The crowd was painfully polite, having gotten used to the musicians doing all the work in the previous shows.

A comedian requires a bit more. When a comic says to you, "Sir, how are you doing this evening?" it is not acceptable to simply blink. Blinking is part of basic bodily function which communicates nothing (the same goes for breathing). This Passim crowd was older and more passive than I've ever dealt with. I had a little game going early on of talking about the different cars people drive. Two people played along, and I needed a third. I asked, "Can I get another automobile?" Nothing. I mean death silence. Then I asked, "Great. Who wants to sit back, not participate and just judge the comedian?"

I got a few to clap for that one.

It's a real honor to be able to perform at the Campfire, but this show was pure pain. I made a point not to get angry with the audience and, more importantly, not to show it, and I disappeared right after my set. I actually ran into a high school friend on my way to the T, and she asked enthusiastically, "How was your show!?"

I answered, with even more giddy enthusiasm and a gigantic smile, "It was horrible!!!"

That was the yin. Now for the yang.

I had a double header tonight, and 10pm was comedy time at Jimmy Tingle's, with a regular show put together by Tim McIntire (a favorite). Now, I expected crap from this show. Based on reports from earlier weeks, it was proving really hard to get enough audience into the seats. Going into today, I had thought Passim would rock with a guaranteed crowd of at least 50, while Jimmy Tingle's would be a chance to just mess around.

JImmy Tingle's was great. We had about 20 - 30 people in a 200 seat theatre, but they were a mighty crowd. Performing for (and really with) them was an absolute pleasure. My pacing was golden, and I played around a lot more with improv style in the set, often just saying the first thing that came to mind and worrying about justifying it later. That provided some really fun callbacks that were a one-show-only feature for this audience alone.

They had a great time, and so did I.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Philly for a friend's massive house party, where I'll be the featured act. It'll be me versus Ernesto.

Let's do it.