Monday, April 02, 2012

The Meanest Thing I've Said?

One of the meanest (but possibly funniest) things I've ever said to a heckler, happened recently at a one-nighter gig in the middle of nowhere. Even by the low standards of one-nighters, this was bad. Five minutes after the show was supposed to start, the booker showed up with checks that didn't have our names on them. "You can just fill it in." Oh, this isn't shady. The opener’s entire act seemed to be about how he didn't want another man’s dick near his mouth, or near his ass, or in his hand. I don't know what he thought he was telling us, but I think the man has some desires he’s fighting not to have. When every punch line in your act essentially consists of ‘not wanting a dick somewhere on your body’, it’s time to get honest with yourself. What was more troubling was the audience. Half the time, they laughed at his juvenile, homophobic ranting. The other half, even this small young crowd of drunks just looked at him with faces that seemed to say, “really?” He went on for twenty minutes. At one point he even looked over at me. I couldn't disguise my disgust. "The headliner is like: ‘More dick jokes? Yes!’" Before the show, he told me he’d been doing this for 6 years. He also said that unlike some guys, he isn't looking to be a star.
Mission accomplished, dude.
I don't really remember doing a joke. I can't exactly call it riffing, either. They were too dumb, or too drunk to really know what was happening. From the beginning, a table of two girls directly to my right couldn't shut up. I say ‘couldn't’, because I’m not sure they actually could have shut up, thanks to all the chemical help they’d apparently ingested. Here’s why I say that. As I get on stage, the girl stands up and announces she is going to the bathroom. I answer with a simple “OK”, and upon hearing this she asks if I want something.
"Like what?" I ask.
"A deal," she responds.
"A deal on what?" I ask.
"On whatever you want."
"What do you have?", I ask ,trying not to get annoyed, and looking for some payoff in this weird exchange.
She has walked in front of me now, and facing me, says, "You know how white girls in Washington are." That’s not the weird part. The weird part is that when she says this she makes the unmistakable motion of pretending to shoot up. A few minutes later when she returns from the bathroom there is a noticeable change in her. Shit, this is what I have to deal with tonight?
We go back and forth all night. I cannot get a single joke out without this girl or someone else in the audience blurting out whatever enters their Ritalin-deprived monkey minds. Finally, near the end of the show, she stands up with a cigarette in her hand and just like before, announces she is headed outside for a smoke. Exasperated I simply say, "Well, enjoy your cancer." She looks at me and fires back, "I already beat that!"
This statement alone, that she already beat cancer, is stunning, considering she is now headed outside to smoke. But I don't say that. I don't comment on how stupid this person is. Instead, I say "You beat cancer? Or are you such a horrible person that the cancer was like, ‘I have to get out of this bitch!’"
You really have nowhere else to go after saying that to someone. I wish I could say the "audience" even had a clue about what was happening in that moment. At that point the show was over. I looked at them and said, "I'm sure you all have people who love you, somewhere, but you're all horrible people. Good night." As I walked off the stage, the drunk/high/stupid cancer survivor girl came up to me and as she tried to hug me said, "You were funny!" I shook my head and stopped her from touching me. "Oh, OK", she said, a little surprised. The opener was lying back in the booth laughing his in-the-closet head off. I put my jacket on, grabbed the batch of my CD's (that I didn't bother trying to sell), and said to the girl as I walked out the door, "You need to quit drinking, or quit going to see comedy. Maybe both."