Some nights it's magic. It really really is. Then other nights, it's Sunday at the Sacramento Punchline in front of 20 people who don't seem all that clear on why they are there. Thats what last night was to me anyway.
The two acts before me both came off stage with a look on their faces like they wanted to jump off a bridge. It's not that the crowd was bad, they weren't heckling or talking among themselves, they just sat there silent and unmoving. Of course my ego thought, I will get up there and deliver some classic Klocek and everything will be alright.
Course, classic Klocek wasn't even there either. I felt like my brain was stuttering while I was on stage. I had felt weird all day. Let me tell you this, you want a free cheap magic carpet ride, forget to take your anti-depressant one day and see what happens. It felt something like not having that all important cup of coffee at the start of the day. I am a caffeine junkie. I admit it. You know your a junkie at anything when you no longer take the thing to make you feel better. You take it so the withdrawal doesn't kick you in the teeth and rob you of any will to live. If I don't have that morning cup of giant super tanker sized Starbucks, I get head aches and a profound feeling of impending doom slicing threw my head like a cold rusty knife.
So thats how I felt on stage.
Bad crowd, meet comic in withdrawal.
The crowd was like an old car; they just wouldn't turn over. No sustain with the laughter either. it's not the size of the crowd that matters. Insert joke here on size. For what ever reason though, this crowd just wasn't coming together.
Sometimes you stick to jokes. Sometimes you know they aren't biting on material so you shift to crowd work. Once you open that can of worms, there is no going back.
In front of me is a table of four teachers. we have some fun for a while and I think, this is going to be fine.
That when the crowd and I met Carlos and Felecia.
They were the only table directly up front. I don't remember what I said to get them talking, but once they did start talking I instantly regretted opening them up.
Here's what we learned in a very quick amount of time. This was the first time they had been together after a separation of a month.
She is a bartender. He works at some water processing plant.
They broke up because Carlos failed to mention something about a fiancee.
Thats what Felecia tells me only to be quickly corrected by Carlos who says, "X-fiance."
Felecia, turns to Carlos and says, "Then why did I have to go to Court then?"
The crowd and I both smelled blood in the water, so I continued to ask questions.
"What are you hoping to get out of this night Carlos?"
Lets pause here a moment, shall we.
Anal. Thats his public answer on the night of his reconciliation date.
Carlos is also a guy who speaks almost exclusively in well worn catch phrases. After anything he says, it is followed by either, true story or no lie or it is what it is.
"So here, in public you announce that you want to do her in the ass?"
Since the show failed to gain any momentum and my set is floundering for a direction, I decide to keep with this. Far more interesting to me than a guy who keeps announcing is desire to fuck his maybe girlfriend in the ass, is the table behind and to the left of them. There is a guy who held up his fist and went "Yeah!" when I mentioned Vegas.
Now, he keeps shaking his head. I look over at him and ask him how is it you can cheer all the perversion that Vegas is but your grossed out by the idea of anal sex?
He simply shakes his head and says, "Move on."
Here is where I always fight to keep my composure. Because what I want to say to this little prick is, fuck you.
Fuck you because what other entertainment can you say move on too?
Fuck you because maybe you looked around and noticed the empty chairs outnumbering us 3 to 1 tonight.
Fuck you because, your a guy and you never thought about giving a girl anal?
For a moment it becomes a little tense.
"You don't want to hear about ass sex?" I ask.
Now he goes into the classic young guy mode of thinking his manhood has been challenged. He crosses his arms and says, "Tell me about anal sex then?"
What the hell happened to this show?
I have a young couple train wreaking to my left, a guy in front of me who is now repeating catch phrases before Carlos does and now I have this little shit looking me in the eye saying, fuck you with his body language, but saying, "Tell me about anal sex" as some sort of threat. The thing that keeps me from unloading on the guy is his girlfriend. She is smiling brightly and enjoying herself. I almost think about pointing this out and saying, "Looks like someone is not getting enough attention in the rear section."
I'm glad I didn't.
The show becomes an on going joke about the fucked up couple and ass sex. You know, quality stuff. When I get the light it is almost like a blessing. Still, I am looking for that big closing laugh that just doesn't seem to be coming. My mind is feeling more and more like cement and my last thought before I leave the stage is, I still have to drive an hour and a half in the rain to get home.
A few minuets latter I am sitting in the office with the club manager getting paid. When I look down at the check I think, I got paid to struggle uncomfortably for 40 minuets. Paid well as a matter of fact too.
That puts a few things in perspective. Still, the money is a conciliation prize. There is nothing better than to get into your car and have that great show feeling.
Besides anal sex that is.
When I walk out to my car, the table of four teachers is standing in front of it smoking and talking. They are very kind with polite compliments. Then, one of them says he remembers seeing me here last valentines day.
I hate to admit how fragile a comics ego can be, but when he says this with a smile on his face I say back to him, "See, you know I can do good shows too."
It just always amazes me where a crowd will draw a line and where the laughter will come from.
I actually got pretty good laughs when I talked about religion for awhile. It is always an odd phenomenon when the crowd disappears on you. They are there for one joke and then silent for the next two. They laugh at some anal jokes and religion jokes, but then go quiet again for no reason that I can figure out. You try every trick in the book but sometimes it just doesn't matter what you do.
It was the classic quick sand set.
The more I thought, this ain't working, the deeper I got into a riff that I couldn't follow; anal sex.
Once you go that dirty that fast in your set, there is no going back.
The other problem was, I was thinking. If you have to stop and think on stage, your dead. Simple as that. You can't think. You have to trust that your funny and have fun with whatever comes out of your mouth or theirs. Tonight, I am stuck in the mess that is my head.
It is shows like this that make the good ones all the more sweeter.