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Snatching (a bit of) Victory from Defeat

I hate losing at anything. Only thing I hate worse than losing a comedy contest is losing an audience. I lost the audience for the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival at the Laughing Skull Lounge last Thursday night from the start. I don’t know why that sold-out-crowd of seventy (it’s a tiny room) didn’t laugh at some of my very best jokes. Maybe they didn’t like the way I looked? Maybe they were stupid. Probably I just wasn’t their cup-of-tea.

Although my set was probably not going as horribly as it seemed, it surely wasn’t going the way I wanted. In the end, I placed well enough (4th) to advance to the wild-card semi-final round, but I did it in an ugly way. About two minutes in, one of my very best jokes got NOTHING but crickets. It’s a bit I do about dating a very unattractive woman. It always works. I’ve told it a million times. It’s on my CD Quickies. “I don’t want to say this woman was ugly but I got kicked out of the zoo once for buying her a hot dog.” NOTHING! That’s when I dropped my prepared set-list.

A comic is supposed to have fun on stage. I was not and decided to let the crowd know it. Some might say I snapped. Everybody would say I showed true emotion. I didn’t exactly call the audience stupid but the joke I told next implied that. It was one I knew everyone would get and – for better or worse – would get a reaction. So I unleashed one of my most sophomoric-shocking nasty jokes. Then I said something to the effect, “There.  How about that one? Did you get that fucker?” Then I went back to my next prepared joke as if nothing happened. I don’t know if the audience thought that my dirty joke or my subsequent snap was funny (though the back of the room was howling) but I do know this. None of  my jokes after that got nothing but crickets.

Although I felt fortunate to advance to the semi-final wild-card round, my luck didn’t hold.  I had to go up first for that show. First sucks for any contestant; it’s even worse for me because of my odd character and unique style of delivery. The “room” for that show was very small also. I did fairly well. I didn’t have to yell at the audience but I didn’t place. The top three comics advanced to the late show finals back at the Laughing Skull Lounge. I followed them over to the bar that housed the club to hang out.

After the festival-finals show, one of the judges (who also judged Thursday night) introduced himself. It was a great pleasure to meet this guy. He has a very cool job in Hollywood. He liked my set. He said that I had the most original voice of any comic in the festival. He loved the way I snapped – in character – and then continued with “nothing but jokes.” He said he’d never seen anything like it. And he got it.  

More and more I’ve had to come to accept that not everybody is going to get me. More and more that is becoming OK with me just as long as the right people do. Knowing one of the right people got me at the Laughing Skull Festival took some of the sting out of losing. Maybe someday I look back on these events and think it was lucky I snapped. 

You can read a re-cap of the festival, including who judged and who won, at Punchline Magazine.

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