“It has to start somewhere
It has to start sometime
What better place than here
What better time than now
All hell cant stop us now”
I really love Rage Against the Machine right now. Lyrics, music, meaning, I find them fascinating. The above lyrics are from their song “Guerrilla Radio,” and (here comes the segue) I recently did some guerrilla comedy.
King’s Back Bay had a battle of the bands instead of their usual open mic this Wednesday, and I made the battle. There were 9 bands, then another comedian, a beat boxer, and me. Us three non-groups performed for 4-6 minutes in between bands, in front of the stage, while the musical groups exchanged and set up equipment. Sometimes, the bands would leave their instrument cases in front of the stage, and I would have to traverse them as the departing band grabbed their things from where I was performing, walking around and also just bumping into me. “Lights out, guerrilla comedy!” Awesome experience though.
Overall, I did about 16 minutes of material. This is the hardest venue I do for comedy and strangely, my favorite. No one is there to see comedy to begin with. The audience isn’t even there to pay attention to the performers, because you can have conversations and still listen to music. Comedy cannot exist without a silent, attentive audience to build tension with, so I not only have to tell the jokes well, but I have to get them to pay attention, all while avoiding the bodies flying randomly around me.
My first set was about the economy. It went over alright, but nothing spectacular. For the second set, there were maybe 7 people in an audience of 70 paying attention to begin. My second set was on dating and had some funny bits. At one point I have a punch line where I jump up and down and yell, “I’m having sex!” in a celebratory manner. This garnered no new audience members, astounding me. Generally if I saw someone jumping and yelling that they were engaging in intercourse, I’d take a peek. Maybe that’s just me. I got the attention of one girl at a table that I particularly wanted to get, but couldn’t convince her to maker the table pay attention. After my second set, a lot of people told me I was brave, and that King’s was a tuff venue for comedy. When you take the candy coating off of those words, it means, “Man, you got balls humiliating yourself in front of all these people!”
I came out determined in my final set. I cut down my set ups as much as possible and had saved my most rehearsed stuff for last. As I dodged the musicians I even made a comment that I was doing guerrilla comedy, and likened it to being in Vietnam. Before I could say this was actually nothing like Vietnam, the woman closest to me yelled out, “Too soon!” But I think people were just impressed that I was still trying, and most everyone paid attention and I even got a few laughs from people. I was completely drained afterward, and a lot of people shook my hand. I’m pretty sure it was just in pity, but maybe I did better than I thought.
Then I got hit on by an English flight attendant, but that’s a story for another post.