Once, while performing at Bruce Baum’s Comedy Crib, there were a couple of ladies who ordered white wine, very unusual order at a comedy club. I asked one of the women if I could have a sip. So I did, and instantly spit it out, clown style. The woman asked me if there was something wrong with the wine. I said, “No, it just irritated the sores in my mouth”.
That turned out to be funny, but sometimes when you take a risk like that, it blows up in your face. I once saw a comedian do a joke about the death of Lady Di, less than a half hour after the news had been released. The audience bood him off the stage. He tried to say, “Too soon?” But it was too late. They hated him.
The comedian tried to tell us that the audience was stupid and just didn’t “get him”. There are so many comics who blame the audience for this poor choice of material. That’s only happened a couple of times to me and it was my fault. We did a benefit show each year for an organization that chooses a child for which to raise money.
I was headlining a show in Los Angeles that night, so when I arrived at the benefit venue, it was time to hit the stage. I should have asked my business manager if there was anything about the crowd that I should know. I didn’t.
I used to do some material about bulimic people. Actually, it was a true, very funny story, unless the first two rows were recovering bulimics. Then, not so much. The audience laughed at all of my other stuff, and after the show was over, the director got up and apologized for my material and he hopes that no was offended.
I was wondering what someone had done something crude. Turns out it was me! I was mortified. I felt so badly, I wanted to find the bulimic people and personally apologize, but it was too late. We were never asked back to a BENEFIT Show!
Everyone does it, comedian or not. We all find that magic moment when the worst possible thing pops out of our mouths. The worst thing we can do is assess damage control, but that usually makes it worse. The best thing? Acknowledge that you really messed up and let the sun rise the next day.
See you tomorrow.
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