Comedy is one of the easiest forms of entertainment… if it is done right. All you need is a mic, a stage, lighting and a focused audience.
When I started out entertaining at a tough bar gigs, my aim was to get so successful that I would never again have to do comedy in a room in which you can listen to the blender! Bartenders seem to have great timing: they always crank it up right as you’re hitting a punchline. No one hears it and you look foolish. Little did I know that there are room setups which make the blender gigs seem easy.
I got to perform comedy at a company party on a turntable or Lazy Susan for those of you over 50. The room was stationary but the portion of the floor that I performed on spun around, making a 360-degree lap every 10 minutes. In a 60 minute show, everyone got to see my face six times. There was a wall behind me, so individuals on every side of the room could not see each other, which made it much more interesting because I’d spin slowly into one part of the room, annoy the individuals who had forgotten there was humor, and then I’d spin out. Sixty minutes of this. The customer was drunk when I got there, so she didn’t see the issue. She was drunk when she booked a turning stage and a comic, but I can not say for sure. Obviously my comedy-on-a-turntable didn’t resonate well with the group.
I got another chance to do some comedy spins in an event a couple of years later, but instead of the floor turning, it was just me! The company that hired me said that since there are more than 1,000 people in attendance, they wanted to ensure everybody could see the comedian. I’ve always wanted to be placed on a pedestal- figuratively, not literally. I didn’t understand about the spinning until I arrived at the event, and the customer kept asking me before the show,”So do you think this is okay?” I refused to say yes because I didn’t want to take the blame for it, so I just responded,”I will try it.” I did end up having a lot of fun with it, and even though the comedy show went really well, I wouldn’t recommend spinning comedy. That is when I decided that being a famous comedian would come in really, really convenient because I could put my foot down and demand that I never spin. But I needed the money and I am not famous, so spin I did!
Naturally there are stationary room setups which aren’t conducive to humor either. Try telling jokes in the basement ballroom of a fancy hotel with posts placed throughout the room. I started off trying to dodge in between them and around them and beside them, until I finally blurted out,”I went to school so I didn’t have to have a job dancing around a pole!” It got a big laugh and I must admit the situation I was in. At least everybody in the room was undergoing my”pole dancing,” so it was amusing and the comedy show still rocked!
And sometimes, the stage is a little more makeshift than I would like. I did a comedy show at a college, during lunchtime, in which I had to stand on a long, narrow lunch table. These faculty gigs are known as”nooners” because they happen at noon in the cafeteria. Weird. I don’t know how many decibels the noise level got to that day, but I am pretty sure nobody heard my jokes; the students were interested in their hamburgers and fries than my comedy. But no one questioned why an almost 40-something woman was standing in their cafeteria on a desk. I did my act into the clock. When it struck 45 minutes, I jumped down and left. I do a lot of keynotes at health care events, and they have a term called a”never-event” for a mistake that should have never happened, like working on the wrong body part or injecting the wrong medication. I believe that phrase, never-event, sums up these nooners.
In addition to these venues, just a few other off-the-wall comedy settings I have told jokes are:
At a bakery on a gigantic bowling alley with people inside gigantic clear bowling balls rolling in a winery outside in a field near a canal with huge barges going by on a floating dock on a lake with the audience on the grass embankment on shore at a restaurant while people were eating in a restaurant filled with countless statues in a multimillion dollar gymnasium with a $20 sound system on an aircraft carrier with the wall open behind me so you could see the sea inside a museum, on the steps leading to an exhibit
WISDOM: Do not overthink things. Some of the situations came about because the customer was overthinking the crowd, such as”Comedy will make the students eat lunch.” No, hunger will make the students eat lunch, but the customer was trying to fix something that didn’t need adjusting. Thinking about things from too many angles can make your head spin, even when you’re not telling jokes on a Lazy Susan!