Friday was full of ups and downs.
Watching this week’s 30 Rock. Terrific friend Sarah coming to town. Seeing a giant octopus and poking some anemones at the Seattle Aquarium. Denny’s. My best set of the trip.
Fender bender (everyone’s okay). Missing the Top 5 in the competition in spite of my set.
Generally I don’t like to write too much about comedy shows, because it’s boring to anyone who wasn’t there as well as anyone who was there, but I’ve got some general thoughts that apply to last night’s specific performance. So here goes!
In my experience, comedy competitions are somewhat of a gamble. There are certain people who tend to excel at them, whether they are able to organize exceptional five-minute sets, or they are just so undeniably unique and funny that they can almost always shine in these situations. Other comics, even long-time headliners, often struggle with the challenge of putting their funniest foot forward in such a short period of time. Comedy competition audiences are not always ideal crowds, either. The pressure to compete does not just affect the comics; audiences can be less likely to stay “hot” for multiple comedians in a row. In general, I do not feel that my comedy always translates to a competition format. I haven’t in the past been able to combine the necessary amounts of good decisions and luck to advance in any major contests. Usually, I leave the stage feeling like the audience did not see the best of me.
Last night, however, at the Auburn Ave. Theater in Auburn, WA, I felt precisely the opposite way. I had the good fortune to go on fourth in the show, before the audience got too tired. Host Paul Myrehaug had warmed up the crowd within instants of the show starting, and the first three comics had all had great responses. I was half excited to get out and do my thing, and half nervous that I was going to break the hot streak.
It turned out that I didn’t need to worry. The crowd was on my side literally before I said a word. From beginning to end, I had the strongest set I’d done all week and probably the best contest set I’ve done all of ever. The audience at the theater was not there to judge. People came to listen and enjoy. After the show, Ahmed gave a really great summary of that feeling: “It’s like you can do the things that always work, but then something else comes out of you, and you can shine a little brighter.” It’s the feeling that the audience likes and trusts you rather than just enjoying your jokes one at a time.
Anyway, I felt great, and the other comics said really swell things. It ended up that I didn’t crack the top five, which was a disappointment, but in the end, it’s a good feeling to know that I did my best and earned the respect of my peers. I didn’t want to look at my scores, but I got convinced to check them, and right now I’m in 7th place overall. So I’m within striking distance. And I’d like to strike, but mostly I’m excited to get to perform some more shows before I go home.