Over my twelve year career I’ve been lucky enough not to have too many crisis-type situations during a week that I’m working. Things in life pop up though, and as comics we can’t exactly phone in sick. People get hurt, people fight, people run out of money, people develop problems, people have surgery, people die. Sometimes these things happen right before showtime. Either way, the comic has to put it all behind him or her and make people laugh for the entire set.
My worst case of this happened near the beginning of my career when I was emceeing a three-show Saturday in Columbus. One of my best friends was in a bad motorcycle accident and our mutual friend informed me by phone ten minutes before the first show. I’ve witnessed other comic pals handle hardships and still perform as well. I can’t really give you advice on how to “put it all away” for however long your set is, but I’ve found that performing is actually a nice distraction from dealing with reality. This was especially true the year I suffered through teaching in the inner-city (I really hated life but my stand-up really improved).
Bookers and club managers seem to understand about the death of a loved one. A week off isn’t asking too much in those situations and with everyone sharing their losses on Facebook, no one dares to fake anything. Anything short of death, and I advise that you somehow try and perform through it.
Here’s a quick little tip I learned from Rahn Ramey this week. He said he never talks to anyone on the phone two hours before the show (unless it’s business related). By doing this you can avoid conflicts or Earth-shattering news before you take the stage.
And finally, to those who keep bitching about my book plugs, stop reading here. God forbid there be a small advertisement for all of the free advice I’ve shared with you. For the rest of you who don’t feel physically violated by a hyperlink click here to order my book off of Amazon or the links to the right to get a signed copy straight from me. For those who already have, thank you, and please leave a review (but only if you enjoyed it!).
One thought on “Must the show go on?”
Last November while travelling, I was devastated to find out that my cat had died. I found out the night before my show. I wept and sobbed and pushed everything aside and went to the venue. There, in the audience, was the twin brother of my dead best friend who I hadn’t seen in over 10 years at the funeral. (I started to look for cameras because I was sure I was being punked or on some sort of Candid Camera show.)
I went up on stage, did my 10 minutes and it was the best show I’d done in forever. I kept it together until I got home. Although a horrible experience, it was something I learned from.