“Who says Jews can’t kill in the south?”

12 Jan

Yeah, who says?

[Written Monday Morning]

Right now I’m in the Chattanooga airport, which is not much bigger than say Madison Square Garden, which is to say, large for a building, unless that building is an airport.  It’s snowing.  Still.  This year’s been a bad winter for snow in Chattanooga.  The first white Christmas they’ve had in over twenty years.  I’m praying that an airplane comes from Charlotte to take me to Charlotte.  And then another airplane can bring me back to Boston.  The South, you’re lovely, but I want to go home.

Here’s what happened.

I came to Tennessee for my first comedy club headlining weekend.  Big news.  Exciting stuff.  For me, I mean.  Globally, smallest potatoes.  Perhaps not even potatoes at all.  Chives?

Anyway, I arrived on Thursday for the first show.  The feature act (guy that goes on before the headliner) is a really funny, energetic friend of mine named Landry.  Landry had a great set.  I had a fine set.  The club owner took me aside after the show and told me it was his mistake for booking a higher energy guy before a quieter comic (me), but we were going to flip the order for the rest of the week.  A demotion.  Bummer.  I felt pretty low.

My Friday night shows were meh.  I didn’t feel great about myself.  I was wondering whether I was wrong for the room, or just generally not as competent as I had thought.  I talked to some comedian friends who were helpful and reassuring (thanks Erin, Myq, Gaby, and Shawn).  But I was still feeling a little sorry for myself.

After the late show on Friday, I was looking over the headshots of past headliners that decorated the walls.  I was using them as evidence to convince myself that I was just the wrong guy for the job.  That I was up against more than I could handle.  Different part  of the country.  Different economic situation.  Different accent.  I looked over the signed photos.  Cletus T. Judd.  Carrot Top.  Ricky Mokel, The Gifted Idiot.  Not really my speed.  To compensate, I tried to choose material that I thought would appeal to the crowd, even if it wasn’t my favorite.  I tried being dirtier, druggier, normaler.  I contemplated faking an accent.

Then I came across one that didn’t quite fit.  Hanging in the bottom left corner of the outer wall to the club’s office was an autographed picture of Marc Maron.  For folks that haven’t heard of him (mom, nana), Maron has a really great comedy podcast, and he’s been a really great comedy club headliner for years.  He does not do easy material, either.  His stuff really challenges audiences.  But it’s so funny, too.  The note he had written to the club owner is what really stood out to me.

To Comedy Catch,
Who says Jews can’t kill in the south?
Marc Maron

And I was like: Yeah.  Who says Jews can’t kill in the south.

So on Saturday night, I went out and forgot about trying to fit into a mold what I thought they wanted me to be.  Instead, I tried to showcase the facets of my act that they liked the best over the first three shows and accentuate those things.  It went a little better.  The late show, though, went great.  I was switching up material, doing some stuff that I was going to have fun with.  It was good.  Sunday night was good, too.  I left feeling a little victorious.  Like I learned how to handle myself in a new and different environment.  I stopped worrying whether I was the wrong guy, and started focusing on what I had been doing right.  I changed my pace and reordered material.  Instead of giving the audience what they thought they wanted, I gave them what I had, the best I could.  And everything worked out.  Although, I should mention, I still wore a red and white sweater with a blue button down to trick them into liking me.

Who says Jews can’t kill in the south?

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