Tuesday February 12th, 2013 – Chicago, IL
Tonight I had the great opportunity to headline at Zanies in Chicago, and I didn’t take it lightly. I have headlined there countless times before, but I’ve got a more pressing purpose these days as I get ready to participate in the Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta in March. I intend to kick ass.
Anyone who has seen me when I’m on my game knows that I am a high energy wrecking ball on stage. I like to pound an audience into submission until they can’t take it anymore. I enjoy it when people come up to me after a show and tell me their stomach hurts and they can’t breathe.
To me, that’s quality customer service. I want people to leave my show with a hurting stomach and in tears whenever possible. What other business has that for a goal? Maybe horror movies or amusement parks, but that’s about it. I don’t think Macy’s or McDonald’s desires those results.
Tonight’s show was a challenge, and I rose to the occasion. Sometimes week night crowds tend to be a bit stiff, and that’s how it was tonight. They were also diverse – which may sound good in theory in life but it makes comedy a lot more difficult. Different people laugh at different things.
There were young and old, white and black, Jewish and gentile in the audience tonight and for a Tuesday when the President spoke it was a surprisingly full house. Some were rather rowdy up front, and that made it hard for the opening acts Michael Issac and Denise Ramsden. I’m a fan of both of those acts, but this was no picnic for either of them tonight. That audience needed a slap.
Fortunately, I was the right man for the job. I’ve got years of experience slapping stiff crowds into shape, and that’s what I had to do tonight. No offense to Michael or Denise, but sometimes a comedian needs to have a passing gear to accelerate to a place that whips an audience into shape.
Part of that is confidence, and another part is experience. I’ve seen more stiff audiences in my day than Michael and Denise combined have seen crowds period. I should know how to handle it by now, and I do. Those guys didn’t do anything wrong, but this is a rough game. The public can be a cruel animal and trying to make them even listen up much less laugh can be a daunting task.
I got the attention of most of them, but not all. Some people will just never get it that a comedy show is meant to be watched in silence, and talking is not part of the mix. It’s rude, ignorant and just plain stupid but it has gone on since live shows began and isn’t going away any time soon.
Still, I did the best I could with what I had to work with and ended up getting most of them by the end of the show. It wasn’t easy, but I didn’t let up and was proud of myself for staying with it the whole time. I could have phoned it in, but I never like doing that. Each show is an individual puzzle to solve, and not all of them get solved. When a tough one does get solved, it’s satisfying.
I made it even harder for myself on purpose by mixing up my material so I’d have to think on my feet and be even more involved. I closed with what I normally open with, and vice versa. It’s harder that way, but also more of a challenge and I love that. I’ll be ready for Atlanta in March.