So, They Were Drunk. So What?
So it was a decently quiet night at McVeigh’s. Eight comics, five audience members; one of which I knew (and as a result will probably now ignore all of my Facebook updates), one aspiring comic doing research on performing (and probably wondering why he chose this particular art form and not, say, ballet), and three drunk, loud, yet entertaining non-union actors.
I started the show, as you do, welcoming them all, and laying down the ground rules. It’s okay to talk during my introductions whenever I hit the stage, but the acts are off limits. Standard procedure. You’ve been to a comedy show before you know the score.
Well, that didn’t happen.
As nice as the three tippies were pretty much chatting throughout the show, not through just my stuff, but pretty much everyone else’s sets as well. It was all done very good-naturedly, they weren’t mean to any of the acts, and let’s face it, they represented the majority of the crowd in both number and response.
So there’s two ways you can tackle this. You look at it as a learning experience to dust off your “crap crowd” chops, or you can look at it as a nightmare. I and many others on the show did the former, others the latter. And that’s what I wondered about. For those that didn’t see it as a way to learn and stretch, what were they hoping for? A packed room? People’s undivided attention where they hang on your every word? Laughter so deep and aching that you can only do three minutes of the seven you prepared? Sure, that’s what you hope for. Those rooms come maybe once a year if you’re lucky.
But admittedly, the lippy three enjoyed the show, and came around and thanked each of the comics personally for the great time and apologized for what they even acknowledged was poor behaviour, but certainly not outrageous by any stretch. When you can stand on a stage and trade blows with a drunk former-Mormon, it can’t be all bad.
Nights like this are what you use to learn from so that when you’re not inside the safe womb of Toronto, and out in some small town with 200 people who are equally drunk and you have to engage. It’s these nights that allow you to be the toast of crap rooms in other towns…the Exford Hotel in Melbourne comes to mind. It was a horrible room and me and the other Canadians loved to do it. Why? Because we had practiced on nights like this and learned from it, not dismissing it.
Note to other comics: Next time you decide not to use what’s put in front of you just because it didn’t all go to plan, get out of the 416, do a show in a small town outside of Thunder Bay where their mayor shows up drunk on Crystal lager, wearing no shirt and an non-ironic John Deere hat, and deal.