I saw the whole circle last Sunday night at the Punchline.
Kevin Avery, a friend and comic is doing it. He is making the move to L.A. Since we love him and wanted to wish him well we did the only logical thing; roasted him.
You know how these work. You have seen them on Comedy Central. One by one, a select group of comics went up and made fun of him. It was excellent!
I had the weakest set by far. Felt bad about it too. I didn't riff. I should of. I had some good jokes on paper, but they got lost along the way to my mouth. That freaks me out a little. It has happened a few times with me lately. Everyone else seemed to come up with some gems. Me, not so much. I know not to dwell on it. I know it is best to not make a big deal about it and move forward. It will pass. Always has.
Here is the circle of life as lived in San Francisco Comedy.
One day, after you have built up sufficient courage and tried out your jokes at open mic's, you come to the Punchline and introduce yourself.
The Punchline Baby!
It has to be in the top ten of best comedy clubs in the nation. It is Dave Chappelles S.F. home club. It was the stage that propelled some of the most talented and amazing comics on to stardom.
We all want to put our foot print on that kind of history.
The hope is the same for everyone. It was the same hope I walk in with more than 15 years ago. You hope to hear something like, "Thanks for showing up. Were glad to have you. Sure, we will get you up on stage as soon as possible. Whats that? Oh, your really good. Great! Will get you up sooner then!"
By the way. Thats not how it ever happens kids.
As people filed out, I was standing next to Molly. A kid came up to her, tattered note book clutched in his undoubtedly sweaty palm, and with all the confidence of a weak cup of tea, introduced himself.
I had to smile.
Molly listened politely as she always does if your not crazy, and told him it would take about ten months before he set foot on stage. You could see what little bit of hope he was holding onto drain from his face.
We were all there once. I smiled not because I enjoy to see a young comic feel crushed, but this was the circle completing itself just as it always has. One of us leaves and another one enters with expectations and the indestructible pride of youth.
Good luck kid.
You are entering the center of San Francisco comedy scene.
The San Francisco comedy scene! Not some open Mic where people do their clothing. Not some space in the corner of a bar. The Punchline.
We are the best comics in the country. I still believe that. We put a premium on originality. We police each other to stay fresh and avoid what has been done before. We have produced too many comics to mention who stand head and shoulders above the pack of wannabe's.
First lesson; you have to swallow a daily dose of rejection to be build up an immunity. It ain't easy. But you learn to swallow it down like cold medicine. Just don't make that face when it's happening.
Look around the back of the room on any Sunday night. You will see a hundred or more faces all looking at the stage like a dying man dreams of water. They are all convinced of two things.
They could do better than the person on stage now.
They will get on next week.
A hundred or more people! Your funny? Great. Now get in line.
It sucks. It's hard and it is a gut wrenching blow to your self-esteem. But its a system. No one ever put it down on paper or probably gave it much thought, but it's the system we all came up in.
You know what though? It filters out a lot of the hobbyist and wannabes. It serves a purpose. And believe me, if this is going to stop you from trying to be a comic, you might as well get out now. It will only get tougher along the way. Just like the people who stuck with it.
Thats the circle of comedy in San Francisco.
Good luck Kevin. I will miss you.
Welcome new kid. Hang in there.