I’m sharing this story for comics. I’ve told it privately before but I’m putting it down.
I was headlining the Riviera. I usually did the middle spot but they had a cancelation at the last minute. It was very, very, cool. It was a week long gig, two shows many nights. 300 seat room. Often packed. Killer shows. After each show, you would sell merchandise as the audience filed out. You felt like you were in show biz. I signed a few boobs on REQUEST. That kind of week.
Half way through, a couple from my hometown of Montreal happened to be at the show. Came up to me after, said how thrilled they were to see a Montreal comic ‘making it’. We shared hometown reminisces, great fun.
The week ended. Everything ends. I fly back on Monday morning. I’m bored. I go to the Comedy Works to do an open mic. I’ve just done, I think a dozen shows, so I’m kind of eager to float out new stuff. I do 5 all new minutes, really hit and miss, in front of 12 people. A bit of a bomb, really. I’m fine with it all. Couple new lines, great.
I go downstairs (the comedy room was on the second floor) and have a beer, talking to a few other acts, when all of a sudden, coming down the stairs, was the same couple that saw me in Vegas. They had enjoyed the Vegas show so much, they decided to check out an open mic. They had no idea they would see the headliner who killed in Vegas, fumbling through a set in front of 12 people. They were genuinely distraught. “Scott, OMG what happened????”
They had seen the ying and the yang, the high and the low, the beginning and end, maybe in reverse, the path, the truth. It blew up their brain. “That was terrible, what was wrong with those people, you’re funny!!!”. I had found the whole bombing thing funny, because I’ve always been amused at how people PERCEIVE you as funny, not funny, give you the benefit and then take it away based on what other people think. Audiences do it, Industry does it,(I’ve seen industry and even comics themselves change their mind about an act when it was clear they had developed a following – perception is everything) The whole thing is a bit of an illusion and we coach ourselves to that reality as comics, but it’s a bit jarring to the uninitiated.
It’s up, it’s down, just keep it going forward, and you’ll be fine.