Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stand-Up Comedy: It's Like Rock & Roll but with More Assholes

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Fun fact: The legs from this trophy, which we made in March for the Standup Throwdown, came from a Justin Bieber action figure. You can still see the B on his hip.
  • Fun fact: The legs from this trophy, which we made in March for the Standup Throwdown, came from a Justin Bieber action figure. You can still see the B on his hip.

Editor's Note: It's called RFT Music, but our coverage has long extended to the vibrant nightlife scene in St. Louis at large. Starting now, we'll be including stand-up comedy in that umbrella. Look for regular dispatches, first from one Matt Conty, comedian and award winning blogger, ( I've asked him to make an introduction of sorts.

If you're new to stand-up comedy, it, like jazz and trans-fat, was invented on our soil. It's American. I love it and plan to spread that joy to you as you put off work in your cubicle. Please accept this blog post as both a virtual handshake from me and a guide for how to act at a comedy show.

On one particular occasion at the Westport Funnybone, I was completely baffled on stage by an audience member who had no intention of being a heckler. In the middle of my new, "I have a baby, and I'm going to talk about it" material block, a woman chose a brief moment of silence to yell out, "The blind lady likes your joke."

My internal dialogue heard "likes your joke" and quickly informed my ego that we had another fan on board. Looks like the new material is dialed... wait, what the fuck did she say to me? I thought to myself, "Either there is a blind lady at this show WHO ALSO has an employee to voice her thoughts at odd times, or there is a blind lady at my show who speaks in the third person, sort of like LeBron James when he was the highly-touted high school athlete."

Either way, not your run-of-the-mill heckle from some drunk fool who is nervous because you are making his girlfriend laugh or a wine-infused comment from a bachelorette party gone awry. (FYI, this happens at 100 percent of all bachelorette parties when a comedy show is involved. 100 percent).

I was stumped. Couldn't she just insult me, so I could deal with it and move on? I decided I better investigate the matter to see what in the world she was talking about. "Are you blind, ma'am?" That's the best I could do.

She then went on to tell me -- and the rest of the paying customers -- that not only was she blind, but she had in fact lost her vision during the delivery of her baby, and that was why she was enjoying my joke about watching a baby being delivered. Ahh. OK. That's clearly what I should have reasoned when you yelled out, "The blind lady likes your joke".

I considering asking, "Did you also lose you're ability to decipher what random shit said out loud could take a comedy show from a roaring good time to more awkward than a stall-to-stall conversation in a public restroom?"

I didn't say that though. I thought it. I'm pretty sure everyone in the room thought it as well, but she was blind, and judging by her laughter and high level of comfort my act had afforded her, she was having a great time and, dare I say, becoming a fan of my humor. I couldn't launch a verbal attack on her. She wasn't a heckler.

This and other random shit being yelled at the stage is what we as stand-up comedians unknowingly signed up for. As in no other form of live entertainment, audience members feel like they can talk back to the entertainer. I'm pretty sure Mick Jaggar never had to interrupt the lyrics of a song to answer the question, "Hey Mick, where are you from man, with an accent like that?" Comics deal with this type of thing all time.

The number one answer a chatty audience member will have for the comic when asked why they disrupted the show? "Dude, I was just helping you out." Nope. Listening, laughing, enjoying the prepared material, drinking and tipping the waitstaff well (their financial success wields more power than one would think.) That's how you help out the comedian. If and only if the comedian speaks to you, then it's OK, in that moment only, to speak out loud to the comedian.

In summary, laughing and money make the comedy club world go around. Dish out plenty of both and you will officially be considered an ally to the comedian.

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