The feeling that you’re going to fail before you hit the stage is a horrid. It’s a terrible thing to give up on something before you even begin. Everyone knows that, yet we still do it all the time. Having said that, I still fall victim to my own defeat more often than I’d like to admit.
There are times when conditions are not in a comic’s favour to produce a max-laughs situation (as I call it). Sometimes the audience of four paying customers may seem to hate laughter and everything it stands for, dragging your spirits 20,000 leagues under the sea. Other times a boisterous, intoxicated heckler ruins every one of your punch-lines by shouting out his own witless remarks. And even other times, the comic before you may just suck teats. I remember a stand up show I did in a pub where there just so happened to be a pin ball competition going on at the SAME TIME! That’s right, PIN BALL. Who even knew those machines were still around and functioning! It was impossible to ignore, so everyone who got on stage acknowledged that it was annoying, and then carried on. And tried to be louder and more entertaining than the pin ball machines (impossible). Because what’s worse than the negative circumstances winning? Seeing someone give up and LET those circumstances win. It’s much more interesting and entertaining to watch a battle, right sportsfans?
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to remember NOT to give up on yourself. In my experience, the most experienced and professional comics are able to stay composed and confident to get through a set no matter the circumstance. That’s what I’m striving to do. (I’m also trying to say “umm” less on stage, in case you were wondering) If no one is laughing, don’t force the issue, power through with all the energy you can muster. I would advise against belittling an audience for not laughing, that’s even tougher to watch. And if that heckler gives you a hard time, tell him to shut his damn trap because YOU have the mic. I’m still working on overcoming hecklers and it’s tough because you may be forced to improvise witty back-and-forth in front of an audience and, ideally, win. Yeeeeesh! Phil Hanley is a great crowd worker. He can scold a heckler into regret, plus he can rock a cardigan like nobody’s grandpa.
But reflecting on all the imperfect conditions one must perform in, makes you realize how awesome it is when the conditions ARE perfect. When the audience is tipsy and roaring with laughter, and your confidence is through the effing ROOF because everything you say is GOLD! I’M GOING TO LIVE FOREVER!!
However you decide to approach negative circumstances, commit to your jokes, do it with CONFIDENCE, and always be the best that you can be! (That’s what my mom always tells me anyway)