11 Responses to Handling Bombing on Stage: The Power of Realistic Optimism

  1. ilovedookie says:

    Great post!! It happens…and I would be lying if I said this will be the only time. Each bomb teaches you valuable lessons, two of which are how to diffuse a bomb AND how to see a bomb coming (I feel like I’m playing Mario Bros.). Also, as you continue to grow as a performer, your view of a bomb will change (sets that I thought killed years ago are now considered bombs since I’m measuring against MY potential now).
    Great post and even greater experience (minus the chicken).

    • Dooks!

      Hmm…I never thought of that: seeing a bomb coming and defusing it. That’s awesome! I had this idea that I’d come on stage and start my first joke. If it bombed/only got chuckles, I’d ask for an applause for the host, and then while they were still happy/applauding go into a joke that I knew would work.

      What are the signs you use to predict a bomb? Then, how do you defuse bombs?

      Thanks for your help and encouragement, homeslice!


      PS – Oh man those wings were good…

  2. I’m not feeling very clever tonight, but I recall that a comedian we made friends with (John Colleary, now quite often on TV, fair play to him) always prodded us before a gig for personal knowledge of the crowd and what was going on in the town that night. In retrospect he was probably bomb-sweeping! Find a local local and ask them before the show if the crowd is native, or if the room is full of an office Christmas party from another town who wouldn’t have a clue. You probably know of a comedy groupie that would know and is always there, or ask the sound man and his wife like John did!

    • Hey HTBS!

      That’s a great idea! A lot of the times I’m just talking to the other comics, rather than getting to know my clients before my big presentation, so to speak. With your suggestion in mind, I’ve added watching the crowd/host to my Pre-stage Ritual.

      I seem to have two competing interests:

      1. Fuck what the audience wants, I’m going to do my jokes and bring them into my world.”
      2. I’m going to make the audience die with laughter.”

      But these don’t have to be competing interests. They can co-exist.

      Now that I’m going on stage 5-8 times per week, I’m slowly building a library of jokes that have a strong track record of hitting. Most importantly, I’m building a docket of material dealing with different subjects, whether it’s about dating, sex, university, being broke, etc. The bigger the library of proven material at my disposal, the more I’ll be able to, “do my jokes” and cater to the audience simultaneously. In other words, I’ll be able to slay audiences on my own terms, thereby holding onto my integrity as an artist.

      Wow. Thanks for that tip. That ^ paragraph is not something I’ve ever thought about before. I would’ve only come to that realization with your help.

      Thanks HTBS! It really means a lot to me.


  3. Dude, I’ve been following your blog, and as someone who lives in Toronto, and actually has a bit of aspiration to do stand up, but hasn’t had the balls to really get out there and try it yet (was supposed to be a 2012 thing, but I’m running out of time), I find your journey very interesting. I’ve been meaning to say this to you, but I’m glad you sorted it out for yourself…..The part about learning to make white people laugh is the smartest shit you’ve said on here. I know it sounds terrible (especially coming from a white guy), but if you take all of Canada into consideration there are a sparse few people in this country that know a single fuckin thing about dancehall reggae. 95% of them live in Scarborough. When performing outside Scarborough, I would lose the dancehall bit. Again, I don’t mean that as racial profiling….. I wouldn’t fuck with country music jokes in Toronto either. Just demographics! Know them, and you’ll be ok 🙂

    • Hey man!

      Yeah, you bring up a funny phenomenon that all comics trip over at some point: thinking/knowing something’s hilarious but not having an audience that can relate. At the same time, I think there is a beautiful struggle in the attempt to try to make people laugh at ideas/situations that are completely foreign to them. And while I haven’t figured out how to do it just yet, I’m falling forward.

      That said, it does say something about the magic of developing one’s own audience. Joe Rogan is a perfect example. He can go really deep into the subjects that he cares about the most because his audience is largely made up of the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast devotees.

      But for now, I’m going to completely deconstruct that set for the Outsiders, lol.

      Let me know via jagdeocomedy [] gmail . com if you wanna come with to some of the open mics me and the boys go to. You don’t even have to go up; just come chill and soak in the atmosphere.

      Thanks again for following, homie. Having honest people like yourself calling me out on my shit is so helpful you have no idea…


      • Thanks for the offer man. I will take you up on it in the New Year. I just had a kid, and with work it’s so hard to find the time, but I really want to. Glad you’re able to take the critique in a positive way. That’s an important skill if you want to improve, but a lot of people don’t like it!

        • Hey man,

          Sounds good! Believe me, handling criticism, even the most constructive, is tough. In my early blogging days, I had tons of people saying I was shit, and it was really tough to keep going.

          But a few things have helped me put it all into perspective. There’s a concept called the Threat Rigidity response which describes the tensions that one feels both psychologically and physically when they feel under attack. I’ve tried to keep this in mind.

          The other thing I’m reminded of is anatta, the concept of no-self from Buddhism. If there is no self, who is being criticized?

          Finally, I realize at all times that it’s absolutely crucial to have people that are close to you and that will be honest with ya.

          I guess, in a way, being able to handle the truth and move forward serves as a competitive advantage over a lot of people in this business of show. I listened to this Ram Dass podcast on relationships that said whether it’s marriage or just friendship, of paramount importance is the search for truth. The more truth, the better the relationship makes us.

          But I digress…


  4. Pingback: How To Handle Feelings Of Envy | Diary of a Toronto Stand-Up Comedian

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