This is the second part of a two-part blog post recounting my first experience on stage as a stand-up comic. In the first post, I talked about how I prepared for the set. This part discusses my experience going to the venue and getting on stage. Long story short, I did well. How well? Let’s find out…
And, of course, a main artery in Toronto, the Gardiner expressway, a highway which runs through downtown Toronto, was CLOSED. So guess how fast a street car moves in heavy traffic? We (the girlfriend came with me) arrived with 7 minutes to spare after 50 minutes of walking.
Me? Stressed? Nah
I guess I should have been stressed, but I figured there was nothing that could change our predicament. Worrying wouldn’t help. If I got on, I got on. But I wasn’t about to turn around. I was going to a comedy show tonight. If I didn’t perform, at least I would laugh tonight. And how can you be disappointed when hilarity awaits?
No really, I love going to these shows. Jeez, am I really creating a career where I get to see comedy every night? Good Lord this is the life. This is what I wanted: to do what makes me happy.
The show is being held at Full of Beans, a coffee shop on Dundas West. I enter, greet who I learn is Jennifer McAuliffe – filling in for Rene today – and put my name on the list. I should be saying, ‘Sweet! It’s not too late to get on stage.’ But I calmly ask when I’m up.
My mind is blank.
The crowd largely consists of comics, and my gut reaction is oh shit, should I change my delivery? My mind doesn’t consciously say yes or no, but the feeling is no. Stick with the plan, Mike, stick with the plan.
I’d review the other acts, but it’s my first time on stage, so let’s focus on, well, me.
So I’m next. Wait, Jennifer just said a girl’s name. I’m not a girl. That means I’m not next. Oh it’s a girl that I’ve seen before. Her name is Catherine.
I think up a joke to tie in with her set. There’s also some terrorist-related humour today, and I think of another quick joke that fits well since I’m the sole brown guy in the room. I rehearse those two jokes in my head over and over as she performs.
Halfway through, Jennifer turns to me and mouths, ‘You’re next‘. I think I nodded. I must’ve given her some sort of physical acknowledgment because she turned around.
My mind is blank. Shit.
Catherine finishes her set. I’m up next.
Jennifer introduces me as Mike Jagdego instead of Michael Jagdeo, but I’m used to that. It’s ok, everyone messes up my name the first time. My body starts walking to the front of the room on its own; instinct has taken over.
Did I mention I’m neurotic? All I’m thinking about in the two seconds I have before I cross Jennifer’s path is how to greet her. Do I shake hands? High five? Give her the pound?
Right hand gives her high five and mouth says “what’s up”. She says what’s up louder as I pass her.
Mind is blank.
And now I’m facing the crowd.
And somehow my body keeps going and my mouth takes over. I lift my shirt and say, ‘Allahu Akbar’ like I’m a suicide bomber.
People laugh. But that doesn’t register.
My next joke is aimed at tying in with Catherine’s bit about math; it doesn’t get a good laugh. SOMEHOW, I digress and say, “What a surprise, eh? A brown guy with glasses tells a math joke.”
And they laugh at that. Go figure.
And then I start doing my five minute set with a few improvisations here and there. For example:
Me: (to the crowd) You guys know AA?
White girl responds: Alchoholics Anonymous
Me: The white girl from barrie knows all about AA.
They laugh at that one.
I hear them laughing, too. I told myself that once you hear them laughing you’re good, but the entire set passes like a blur. I’m there, I know what I’m saying, I hear them laughing, and I’m in the moment. I know things are going well, but none of that registers.
Actually, my last joke gets a big laugh (it’s where I lament that I have hit the milestone where girls are now better than me in gym class).
But I’m not happy. I’m – I just want to sit down.
I know I did well. But how well? They laughed many times…that’s good. I can’t wait to see the video.
Everyone came up to me after and said that it was great. When I told them it was my first time, they seemed genuinely surprised. That’s a good sign. But you can never really trust any response to the question, ‘How did I do?’ Or maybe I can never trust anyone that tells me good things about my performance.
So here it is: my first set
Oh did I mention the recording crapped out right after the first few seconds? I’m not joking. My girlfriend recorded everything else except me (insert joke here).
We’ll get the recording on Thursday, at Comedy Thursdays at Starving Artist Waffle Expresso Bar, cross my heart.
Until then, follow your nose.
PS – Seriously, I’m not joking.