Around 2007, I was doing the most concentrated amount of standup comedy in my life. I was still too new to improv to be doing regular shows, and too new to town to even really know anyone socially. I worked at Nelvana animation during the day doing prop designs for Ruby Gloom, and at night, I was doing a stand up show, or 2 or three. If 2 days passed without me doing a show, I started to feel off.
One month, I got sick. Really sick. I had a cold that snowballed into a bronchial infection. It hung on forever. I only had enough energy to go to work and design props, then crash immediately, sleeping from 6pm until the morning. So I had only done a couple shows that month.
There was a club called The Laugh Resort, and I had been climbing the ranks there. Which is to say, I was one rank above amateur Wednesdays- I was on Thursdays! Towards the end of my sick month, I had a showcase Thursday show. I felt unprepared, and still sick, and I mentioned it to my Nelvana co-workers. “We’ll come support you!!!” they said.
These co-workers, being the ONLY people I’d interacted with all month, seemed like the friendliest lifesavers ever. Hey, makes sense! They haven’t come out to support a show yet, and now they’re offering when I REALLY needed it! Great!
The big day came and about 8 people from work came out. I was introduced, and the second my foot hit the stage (and I say it like that because I remember that I was looking at my foot when the thought crossed my mind,) I thought “THESE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS THEY’RE YOU’RE CO-WORKERS IN THE BIZ THEY ARE JUDGING YOU WHAT ABOUT YOUR WRITING PORTFOLIO EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS HERE WILL AFFECT THEIR FUTURE RESPECT FOR YOU.”
I have never even come close to bombing in the way I did that night. Just like they say… greasy bomb sweat. My skin probably turned grey. In fact, my memory of the night is in black and white. A couple piteous “I get that was supposed to be funny and I really want to support” fake laughs were had, which made it worse.
My material at that time was very self deprecating, with lots of embarrassing details. I was fat at the time… the message basically boiled down to “I may be really fat, but I’m also really funny!” Except I wasn’t. (I wasn’t really that fat either, to be honest.) If it had been delivered with confidence, and I had been practicing and sharp, it would have been fine. But self deprecating does not couple well with true emotional panic. I’m sure all anyone could think was “who’s going to see her home so she doesn’t run out into traffic and end it all?” That’s what I saw in their faces… Oh those faces… (Melissa Graham I’m talkin’ bout you…!)
One person, Laura, became a true friend and loyal fan. She saw lots of shows over the years. The rest of them… really nice, but, I never got anywhere with my writing portfolio at Nelvana. MAYBE there was a connection???
Everybody gather round! Put your night aside so that I can TELL and SHOW you that I’m a complete and utter MESS. Thanks! Now go home so I can cry!
So that is the story of my worst bomb. Not too terrible and completely self inflicted, it should be noted. That’s why being out a bunch is so important- keeps confidence and perspective in check!