Last night was the night when my mental wheels came off. I drew first spot, also know as “biting the bullet” because it is a tough spot. Well, oddly enough I had my best set of the competition. I was very surprised by Grass Valley, CA (140 miles outside of of San Francisco, so yeah, not San Francisco) and the fact that they were the first crowd of the week not to “ohhhhhh” at my jokes, showing that they are the first audience mature enough to handle the comedic equivalent of a PG-13 movie.
But because my fellow carpooler and European named Dartanion London had a 2+ hour drive, we left at intermission. I felt confident that I would place somewhere in the top 5, thus keeping my hopes alive for a semi finals appearance, but then I got a text from the emcee that I did not place (and to quell my readers’ fears – leaving early did not and could not cost me any points).
This one stung because I crushed it and went first. Tomorrow, assuming tonight is my last show, which it probably will be based on the math, I will give you all a real breakdown of this competition. But here’s a tidbit – there are 7 alleged categories that the judges score comics on – but they really are all “audience reaction.” They have items like “originality,” but if your judges and audience do not know stand up comedy beyond Don Rickles at The Flamingo 40 years ago or Larry The Cable Guy’s most recent movie, then how will they actually know that the following line is terrible comedy: (word for word set up and punch line of a joke in this competition) “I was at the movie the other day and I saw a group of black people walk in and I was like, ‘man, now I’ll never hear what they’re saying.'” Immediately followed by raucous laughter and applause. In 4 shows there have been 1.5 black people performing and zero black people attending, so I guess if you have never seen a comedy show and never seen a black person that might seem like a revolutionary and daring joke. So I guess originality is an incredibly relative term. But I will save the full rant for when I am actually eliminated.
But last night was one of those nights, like after the Presidential election of 2004, where I had to consider the following, “Maybe I am just out of step with these people.” I consider myself a pretty mainstream comic (sorry alt comedy, but I will never grow a beard and I will never say a punchline that has nothing to to do with my setup or proceeding story), but without being a pandering hack (though I have had missteps along the way). However, if Anna Nicole Smith jokes, Carlos Mencia-lite stereotypes and redneck shtick are still killing today across the country then what is the point of doing this other than as a hobby?
Well one more show tonight and then a week in L.A. to do some shows. Time to start working on my traffic sucks material.