Sunday night I headlined the back porch of a sausage party in Billerica, MA. Excuse me, a sausage vender’s party. It was one of the best worst experiences of my life. I’ve done outdoor shows before, and they’re never good, but this one was by far the worst.
We took the porch (I’m subsituting “porch” for “stage,” but only because it’s accurate) at 6pm, in broad daylight, about 5 minutes after this nifty acapella group sang “Sweet Caroline.” The audience ranged from drunk adults lounging and talking in lawn chairs, to teens playing “water pong” and volleyball, to 10 year olds in a hot tub — directly next to us porch right. It was a specific gathering of family and friends that only happenned once a year, so clearly they were gonna stop catching up to hear a bunch of twenty-something white dudes do comedy. But we knew it would be bad going in.
Some of you may be asking, “Well, why did you take this gig in the first place?” One of the regulars at the my bar invited us. He’s a nice guy, and he offered us free sausage, roast suckling pig on a spit, oysters, cake, access to his pool, and all the alcohol we could drink. All that is totally worth 5 minutes of public humiliation.
Six of us did sets, and we almost got as much attention as the volleyball game that continued in front of us. It was atrocious. I probably shouldn’t use a form of the word “atrocity” to describe how the “show” went, but the biggest response came when I triumphantly took the porch and proclaimed, “Let’s give it up for the fact that I’m the last comedian!” Then I tried a couple jokes, failed; tried pandering to the children of the hot tub, failed miserably, and exited porch left. Only one of us did well enough where the people of Billerica would still make eye contact with him, because he made the best choice of all by not doing material. He just made observations about what was going on at that moment, and did a really fantastic job.
The audience was so unimpressed with us, after we finished, an open mic spontaneously erupted. “Pssshhhhh! I’m funnier than these assholes!” thought several drunks. One guy got up and told two of his favorite street jokes, ate it, and gave up the porch. Then a middle-aged women broke out her iphone, and started reading jokes she had clearly been emailed at work. Glorious jems, like, “Why is it that you run software on a hardrive!?”, and “Why is one underwear considered a pair!?” Real boring premises with no joke attached. She rattled off about 25 “jokes” before her self-awareness kicked in and told her no one cared.
Then we comedians went for a little shame swim in the pool. A couple newly minted female groupies — ages eight and seven — cannonballed in after us, yelling, “Comedian water!” Their parents sprinted over to remove them, praying the pool hadn’t been contaminated with the comedian’s life-choices.
All that said, we’ll do it again next year!