Standup Comedy is like life: It can be great and then sometimes, not so much.
At a recent show, as the emcee introduced me and I got on stage, the audience applauded except for the table of people immediately to my left. They just sat and stared, sans smiles. We’ll call this red flag number one. (Spoiler alert: You never need more than one flag. One is enough.)
Predictably, anything I said that referenced them directly held their attention. When I played to the audience at large, this table checked out from the show and became engrossed in their cell phones.
They weren’t being audibly disruptive but their overt disengagement (is that a thing?) and proximity to the stage was enough to be a distraction; if not to the rest of the audience then to me.
I began to wonder why they were there and why they bothered to stay. They weren’t enjoying the show and I wasn’t enjoying them.
Yes, it goes both ways.
Why didn’t I call them out? In retrospect, I guess I should have, but I’m super non-confrontational. I do comedy, not combat. I’m not interested in policing the behavior of adults. Bare minimum: you have to want to be there. If not, please go. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea nor do I seek to be. I gladly release you to the wide world of other endeavors.
If longevity in the entertainment business gives you nothing else, it inures you to constant rejection and seeking the approval of others; except it doesn’t. You just learn to hide your disappointment and cover your battle scars.
But every now and then though, something slips by my defenses; and sticks in my craw. (I’m not sure what a craw is, but I feel something in there.)
And why? Because in a mixed audience, this shade came from a table of Black folks. No, we’re not a monolithic group, but is it unreasonable to hope for courtesy and respect from your own? (Whatever that means to you.) And yes, I know I’m being terribly naïve; expecting solidarity from people who are essentially strangers… And yet…
But this is on me. The source of my disappointment is always directly related to the distance between reality and my expectations. And as author Byron Katie says, “When you fight with reality, reality wins 100% of the time.” All I can continue to do is learn and grow from every show.