Friday, November 8, 2013

Sludge Hammer (Peter Gabriel)

Every comedian has had a hell gig. Some of us have had many. It's part of being in the game. Several years ago, I had the mother of all hell gigs. Curtain up and enter the Moose Lodge. A buddy of mine named Jimmy McCaffrey who was a sometimes comedian and in full time conflict with his ex wife had booked it. The show had a mix of folks still in the incubation stages of comedy like myself, seasoned comedians, and of course headliners. I figured the show could have gone either way when I got there. After all, this was Jersey. These were all white people. I had done well in a black room only the week before. This would be a breeze, right?


The show began and my friend did a minute and a half up front. The rest of us were looking at each other like "what?" The first comedian went up. He was a slight fellow named Paul Mazeroff who's gift was the business side, but as for material, he had a solid minute and a half. Paul wasn't even onstage for a minute and he was already being heckled. I was supposed to go next. OH SHIT!

After three minutes of this nonsense Jimmy gave Paul the light. The next comedian was Howard Feller, who killed it. This was an awesome experience and even more awesome to watch. Okay, maybe they weren't going to eat us alive after all. After Howard I went up. I brought May out. Some of the room was into me. Some wasnt. Actually, they were divided down the middle. I didn't care. I just wanted to survive. Some drunken white racist idiot said, "This isn't standup comedy. She has a puppet." No shit Sherlock. I have a puppet.

The next comedian, who's name escapes me, was a blur. After him they interrupted the comedy show so this weird looking Napoleon Dynamite kid could say a prayer. In a surreal blur the comedy show continued. Some of the comedians battled with these bizarre angry white hecklers. One lady, a mom comic who's name escapes me that kept talking about her kids, gave one guy a t shirt. They were silent during her set, which meant they were paying attention but not laughing is the most brutal form of bullying in comedy. The show finally ended with Danny McDermott taking down and ultimately verbally killing a heckler.

After the show, one of the worst hecklers said, "I felt bad for the comedians. No one would even give them a chance." Yeah asshole, you heckled. A bunch of folks gave me and the rest of the comedians backhanded compliments. One tattooed dude said he really dug me.

They say from every hell gig you learn something. One of the weirdo hecklers said he saw my jokes on my hand cause in those days I wrote my set list on my hand. I stopped doing that and just memorized it.

Years later, when I was on TV the tattooed dude who liked me dropped me a fan note.

Last night Chris DiFate and I saw each other after a number of years. While it was good to see an old friend, it was even better to laugh about the shared shiteous experience we had together. I had forgotten about the horrid prayer. Chris reminded me. The beautiful thing about comedy is everyone pays their dues. As you move up the ladder, you laugh with others about the same harrowing experiences.

There is no business like show business

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

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