Comedy is one of the easiest forms of entertainment… if it’s done right. All you need is a mic, a stage, lighting and a concentrated audience.
When I started out entertaining at a tough bar gigs, my aim was to get so successful that I would never again have to do comedy in a room in which you can hear the blender! Bartenders appear to have great timing: they always crank it up right as you are hitting a punchline. Little did I know that there are room setups that produce the blender gigs look easy.
I once got to perform comedy at a business party on a turntable or Lazy Susan for those of you over 50. The room was stationary but the part of the floor that I performed on spun around, making a 360-degree lap every 10 minutes. In a 60 minute series, everyone got to see my face six times. There was a wall behind me, so individuals on every side of the room couldn’t find each other, which made it even more interesting because I’d spin slowly into one part of the space, annoy the people who’d forgotten there was humor, then I’d spin out. Sixty minutes of the. The client was drunk when I got there, so she didn’t find the issue. She probably was drunk when she reserved a spinning stage and a comedian, but I can’t say for sure. My only saving grace was that the DJ was booked through the exact same agency, so I had a witness to this mess. Obviously my comedy-on-a-turntable didn’t resonate well with the group.
I got another chance to do a little bit of comedy spins at an event a couple of years later, but rather than the floor spinning, it was just me! The company that hired me said that since there would be more than 1,000 people in attendance, they wanted to ensure everyone could see the comic. I’ve always wanted to be put on a pedestal- figuratively, not literally. I didn’t understand about the rotation until I arrived at the event, and the client kept asking me before the show,”So do you think this is okay?” I refused to say yes because I didn’t want to take the blame for it, so I just reacted,”I’ll try it.” I did end up having a good deal of fun with it, and even though the comedy show went really well, I would not recommend spinning comedy. This is when I decided that being a famous comedian would come in really, really handy because I could put my foot down and demand that I not spin. But I needed the cash and I am not famous, so spin I did!
Naturally there are stationary room setups that aren’t conducive to humor either. Consider telling jokes in the basement ballroom of a fancy resort with posts placed throughout the room. It got a huge laugh and I got to admit the situation I was in. At least everyone in the room was experiencing my”pole dancing,” so it was amusing and the comedy show still rocked!
And sometimes, the point is a bit more makeshift than I would like. I did a comedy show at a school, during lunchtime, in which I had to stand on a long, narrow lunch table. These faculty gigs are called”nooners” because they occur at noon in the cafeteria. Many comedians do them and the comedy-on-a-tabletop is pretty standard. Weird. I don’t know how many decibels the noise level got to that day, but I’m pretty sure nobody heard my jokes; the students were interested in their hamburgers and fries compared to my humor. But no one questioned why an almost 40-something woman was standing in their cafeteria on a table. I did my act into the clock. When it struck 45 minutes, I jumped down and left. Now, I do a good deal of keynotes at health care events, and they have a term called a”never-event” for a mistake that should have never happened, like working on the wrong body part or injecting the wrong medication. I believe that term, never-event, sums up these nooners.
In addition to these venues, just a few other off-the-wall comedy settings I’ve told jokes in are:
In a bakery on a gigantic bowling alley with individuals inside colossal clear bowling balls rolling by me in a winery out in a field next to a canal with enormous barges going by on a floating dock on a lake with the crowd on the grass embankment on coast in a restaurant while people were eating in a restaurant filled with countless statues in a multimillion dollar gymnasium with a $20 sound system on an aircraft carrier with the wall open behind me so that you could see the ocean in a museum, on the steps leading to an exhibition
WISDOM: Do not overthink things. Some of the situations came about because the customer was overthinking the crowd, such as”Comedy will make the students eat lunch.” No, hunger will make the students eat lunch, but the client was trying to fix something that didn’t need fixing. Thinking about things from a lot of angles can make your head spin, even when you’re not telling jokes on a Lazy Susan!