My Very Brief Standup Comedy Career
I have a good friend in Kansas City, Missouri who used to be a standup comedian.
She and I were once very close, and I started to send her material I wrote for her to consider using in her act.
She told me a lot of what I wrote went over pretty well, and I was happy for her.
Then she mentioned making $700 on a one-night gig and I thought, hey fuck her, I'm going to write my own standup routine and get me some of those seven hundred dollars.
I bought some how-to books on standup comedy and read them carefully.
Then I got a little micro tape recorder and started filling it with observational comedy, the fairly clean kind done by Ellen, Seinfeld and those types.
I finally worked up a 5-minute routine, after discarding many hours of total crap, then I started trying out some of it on my sisters and a few friends.
They laughed hard, and in my vast conceit, it hadn't occurred to me they were being more supportive than genuinely as amused as they seemed to be.
The next step was to find an open mic night at a comedy club.
I wasn't about to do it in San Antonio; I have conservative clients who might have seen me and considered me too fucking goofy to write their precious corporate crap.
So I chose the Velveeta Room in Austin. They had open mic nights every Thursday.
I decided to do generic comedy instead of out-lesbian comedy, because the audience was mostly straight guys, all liquored up and mouthy.
My sister stacked the audience with about 20 of our friends, so I knew I'd at least get some faux laughs instead of that paralyzing silence or heckling one hears about.
This was in summer. The club's air conditioning was amped up to a smarmy 84º, with a few cheap little fans scattered around to circulate the hot air.
I sweat when I'm hot. When I am hot and I drink even one ounce of alcohol, I sweat like a Louisiana linebacker in a Saran Wrap suit. My hair even gets wet. It's horrible.
So I couldn't even have a drink to steady my nerves.
Being brand new, I arrived and signed up early to perform, but was bumped back by about 25 comics and aspiring comics who were experienced and trying out new material.
The standup virgins like me didn't get on stage until about 11, on a weeknight, which is bad because everyone in the audience was pretty drunk and rowdy by then.
About 10 comics before I'd gone on, some drunk asshole Latino comic was on stage heckling me as I sat with my friends at our long table.
He said some rude things and was booed by my table, so he tried to apologize by offering to buy me a drink. I said, "No thanks," in a loud voice. He said, "Well, fuck you, then."
So I said in a loud stage voice, "NO THANKS!"
I got a round of applause, and that bastard didn't even know I was one of the comics coming up later.
So the moment had come.
I took the stage and all I could see was a band of stage lights that radiated about as much heat on my already overheated body as a French fry lamp. Lights and heat and a cheap mic, already sweaty and germy from the 25 comics who preceded me. Swell.
I skipped my prepared intro and instead said, "Now, where's that Chicano asshole who was heckling me?" I got a big laugh and some scattered applause.
Then I said, "You give these wetback pendejos a green card and they think they're stars!"
"Wetback" and "pendejo" (Spanish for 'asshole') are phrases one must use very gingerly in South Texas, so I got off the bastard's back pretty quick.
After that, I went into my practiced routine and did fairly okay.
I did a short bit on gay pride rainbow decals on cars, asking if they were not the worst kept secret code on earth. The straight people in the audience reacted like they had never seen a pride decal. I ditched the next gay joke.
I can't remember what else I said, but I remember I finished with a rendition of a country song I wrote called, "If You See Kay," which goes like this:
F-U-C-K, tell her I love her
F-U-C-K, tell her I care
F-U-C-K, tell her I miss her
F-U-C-K, buy her a beer...
It bombed, and that was the boffo ending to my comedy career.