Monday, December 7, 2009

Breaking In: Part One

I will try to cover now the first few weeks.

I knew that moving to New York City meant virtually abandoning the progress I made in Boston and starting over at the bottom. I just never thought the bottom would be like this.

The first show I did in Manhattan was 5:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. The Big Time. My friend Scoots accompanied me to the show because we both didn’t know any better. The price for 5 minutes of stage time was 5 dollars and a beer. The practice of charging comics to perform at open mics is unheard of in Boston, but ubiquitous in New York. I suppose five dollars isn’t that bad. But the beer, the beer is where they get ya.

A single can of Pabst Blue Ribbon will put the fledgling comic out a cool 6 dollars. The same beer sold for a buck-fifty from 2 till 5 on weekdays in Boston, costs about the same as two gallons of milk in NY. I remarked to the bartender that for four dollars more I could get 30 of these, but he was unimpressed.

A 50 year-old corn-rowed white man emerged from the bathroom and offered Scoots and I his still wet hand, pulling each of us in for a one-armed male embrace. He must have smelled the new on us because he soon began a diatribe about the dangers a comic will face should they decide to move to Los Angeles without first making the proper connections. Such as himself, of course.

As the only non-comic in the house, Scoots was the only one we deemed, “a real person,” and the comics acted like he was booking for Letterman. A laugh from Scoots was akin to an applause break. This was Scoots first time at an open mic and he was thoroughly bemused, chuckling or cracking an awkward smile at the mere mention of the word “penis” and hooting whenever a comic inquired from the crowd: “Where all my pot smokers at?” I went seventh, to a crowd of about six people, one of which was literally asleep, sprawled across several chairs like he was waiting for a subway train that long since stopped running. I got almost no reaction, but Scoots seemed to like me. He loved my closer. A dick joke.

Scoots and I stayed the entire show (which, I would soon learn, is something of a miracle at an open mic.) Mostly I just counted the remaining comics in the crowd, trying to judge how much longer I had. I’d grimace each time a new person wandered in an hour late to do their five minutes and leave immediately. I would not like to go into the details of the jokes, suffice to say there were not one, but two canine-rape jokes. Which, even being a cat person, I find a little distasteful.

The mic was over by 8pm, odd as I’m used to shows not even starting until sometime after that. The night still young, Scoots and I went to a bar on the Lower East Side. I left after one beer, going down at least three different subway stations before finding one actually heading in a direction I needed.

1 comment: