I’ll admit it. A lot of times after a show all I care about it how much merch I’m going to sell. The set can go fine, and even great, but really, that’s the last part of the work for the night. People come up and say, “You were funnier’n shit man!” and they babble some other drunken compliments, shake my hand way too hard, and then leave. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every compliment and make it a point to say thank you twice, but like other comics, I’ve become jaded.
I’ll also admit, I don’t like going to comedy shows that I’m not performing at. There are a few exceptions like if one of the mega-legends were to come into town and perform, then yes, I would be content to sit with the “common folk” for 90 minutes. I enjoy concerts a lot more though.
Last night I allowed myself to be on the other side of the merch table and from this experience I now have a new appreciation and perspective on the people who support me.
My friend (and fellow comic) Frankie Chubb and I went to a small venue on the Wash U. campus called “The Chapel Venue.” Inside, they only asked for $5-$10 donations for admission and $2 donations for beers to see a guitarist I saw years ago named Levi Weaver.
Like a lot of my gigs, the room had plenty of empty seats. Frankie and I were both blown away with how talented this guy is and enjoyed the whole show. For his encore he asked for requests and though I hated myself for being that guy, asked for one. He played it! (This makes up for the time I dropped $50 on Pearl Jam only to have them ignore the entire Ten album) Afterwards, Levi hung around and sold CDs and gave away posters. And here’s the part that pro comics should try and do–find someone you’re a fan of and play the part of the fan for once. I couldn’t wait for the lady ahead of me to stop babbling to him so I could get my turn. She rambled on and told him she had driven all the way from Houston to see him…then joked that she was actually there to visit her daughter. (Hey lady–don’t turn your compliments into a joke you dumb whore!) Finally, I got to tell him in a slurring-from-three-beers manner about the previous show I saw him at, thanked him for playing his Idioteque cover upon my request, had him sign a poster, and then bought a CD. I couldn’t wait to show him support. I refrained from the annoying things that some comedy fans do, “You know, you should do this, this and this with your talents…” And “Here’s who I like that’s more famous than you…” Comics get a lot of that. Part of me was embarrassed while the other part of me thought, “This is good to see things from this perspective.” Not to tout, but I have a lot of nice things said to me after shows and sometimes I don’t really feel the genuine side of it. Being a fan one night really opened my eyes to the enthusiasm people have with their support. I’ve realized not to take compliments for granted. And yes, you’re probably wondering, “OK Rob, how’d you fit your stupid book into the conversation?” Well, Levi mentioned he’d always wanted to try 5 minutes so I’m going to send him one. As fans, we want the performer to know that we’ve accomplished something too. It gives us that connection and we just want them to think we’re as cool as they are.
So whether it’s a sporting event, concert, play, or whatever, see if you can play the role of the fan just once and realize how hard it is to not be annoying when you’re overcome with how much the performance wowed you.