I haven’t been to a comedy club for a couple of months now, but I keep thinking of one joke in particular that I heard while I was there. You have to remember that comedy clubs are the last bastion of politically incorrect jokes. So anything goes there. In a way, it’s very refreshing to be able to go back in time a couple of decades or so to when free speech meant exactly that.
Anyway, the joke I keep remembering makes me laugh every time I recall it. I don’t even remember the name of the comedian, but I saw him at Riddles at the open mic night. “Are there any Mexicans here?” he asked, I assumed he asked this because he was not of the Mexican persuasion. No one answered up–not even me. I wanted to say, “I’m Mexican,” but I couldn’t get the nerve to shout it out. Besides, I wanted to see what he would say if no Mexicans were present.
After a long silent pause, he asked, “How many Mexicans does it take to change a light bulb?” No one answered and after another long pause, he said, “One. They’re just like everone else!” And everyone laughed, but I think I laughed the loudest.
Last night, I went to a comedy club for the first time in a very long time. I went to Bill Brady’s Barrel of Laughs in Oak Lawn, Illinois. I remember Bill Brady from when he was at the Comedy Womb. I can honestly say that Bill Brady is just as funny today as he was back then. I had meant to write my own standup comedy routine in order to perform it last night, but I never actually finished editing my act so I went to observe the new talent on Open Mic Night and hopefully learn from them. Well, I’m not sure if I learned any practical lessons since all these comedians reminded me of my past experiences on stage. At least, I observed that the performing standup comedy sure has changed for the better! The atmosphere was actually very congenial and conducive for training new comedians. They actually had a sign on the stage that prohibited heckling the comedians! Now that’s what I call coddling the comedians.
Since I was a very young boy, I have had this secret desire to be a standup comedian and I’m trying to get my nerve up to go on stage again after a brief hiatus of about 21 years. I’m not sure what ever attracted me to standup comedy in the first place since I stuttered and spoke broken English until I was in high school. Whenever I saw comedians on television, I always watched them with affectionate laughter and listened to their every word, memorizing their jokes so I could repeat them later. Since I live in Chicago which is a breeding ground for all kinds of comedians, I eventually tried my hand at standup comedy with mixed success. My main problem was my stage fright that always hindered me from being comfortable before a large crowd, but not painful enough to prevent me from performing. I worked at improving my comedy act and eventually performed on some cable TV show no one had ever heard of, including me until they asked me to be on the show.
Before I ever actually performed standup comedy, my friends Vito, Jim, and I went to some comedy clubs to observe the comedians. We planned everything for our first performances. We tried working together as team at first, but we were too much of individuals to work together as a team. Eventually, we each wrote our own act that we would perform individually. We did help each other writing jokes for each other and polishing each other’s act. This was all fun and nerve-racking at the same time! Although we never mentioned it to each other, I know we really dreaded our first time on stage. We memorized, rehearsed, and then performed our acts to each other before our debut. We didn’t actually all perform for the first time on the same night because we performed when we had managed to control our stage fright enough go on stage. I believe Jim, the bravest of the bunch, performed first, followed by me and then Vito. Needless to say, we each made a disastrous debut! But we were extremely proud of ourselves for following through with our plan and actually going on stage.
Now that I think of it, I’m starting to not only feel that same fear again, but also that same hunger for success again. That’s why I plan on going on stage in the near future. But first I have to fine tune my jokes.