Update to this post: Due to a certified letter I got in the mail, I recently redacted the name one of the subjects of this blog. I don't want to cause any trouble. I just want to help make a better comedy universe. Please enjoy the blog (with these minor changes).
Another update to this post: Yesterday, I received a desperate/ insulting voicemail message from (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED). Today, I received an email from one of the former organizers of the contest telling me that (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) contacted him. She just got a new job as a theater director or something, and - even though I've removed her name from the blog - if you Google her name, this entry shows up in search results. Consequently, I have unpublished the original entry. The original entry still shows up in Google's search results. However, if you click on the link produced by the search result, Blogger will tell you the entry can't be found.
I then copied and pasted the contents of the original entry into this entry, a brand new entry- that never had (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) 's name within the entry. My theory is you can still enjoy the contents of the entry, but it will not appear in search results when you Google (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) . Please enjoy the blog (with even more minor changes).
Bye! I'm Jake!
Seattle Comedy Competition Round 1, Part 5,6: Favorite Moments
Hi! I'm Jake!
If you've been reading my blog, then you know the past week I was in round 1 of the Seattle International Comedy Competition. If you haven't been reading, then you don't know anything! Leave me alone! You're not my real dad!
Anyway, it has been a great week! I've met 16 really cool comedians. We've played great venues. We've had fantastic shows.
If you read my prior blog entry, though, you know we've had some troubles with our emcee, (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED). It's been rough. Fortunately, this common problem brought the comedians together. We suffered together and that forged a bond. By the end of the week, we were all having a blast joking together offstage, and cheering for each of the comedians while they were onstage.
Our 5th night of the contest, we drove 90 minutes through torrential coastal rain to perform at the Fairhaven Pub in Bellingham, Washington. Before the show, 4 of us went for pizza. Derek Sheen, a super funny, genuine guy picked up the tab. Thanks, Derek! You rock!
The rest of the week, we performed at 3 theaters, a comedy club and a casino. The Fairhaven was the only bar gig for the week. It got a little ugly. There were so many tragic moments.
After the show, I went around to each of the comedians to get their favorite (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) moments. Some of the remarks are harsh. So to protect the other comedians, I am keeping all their responses anonymous. Pretty much all the quotes you find below come from this week's contestants. Also, I've organized the quotes by topic. Enjoy.
FAVORITE (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) MOMENTS IN BELLINGHAM
"It's only 5 days into the contest and it has become a rule amongst comics that speaking about how bad (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) truly is, is already hack material."
"My favorite (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) moment? That's hard to say. There were so many."
One of the judges came up to us after the show "The great thing about her is she makes you guys look really good!"
"Her act is like AIDS: created in the 80s and it's kind of scary."
"The whole reason she was here is so we feel better even if we lose."
"The great thing about (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) is she immediately makes the crowd nostalgic for the show. 'Remember when the comedians were on stage? That was nice!'" the anonymous source reminisced.
The encore point
One of the unique facets of the Seattle competition is the encore point. At the end of each contestant's set, the emcee is supposed to run up to the stage, announce the person's name again and then see if the audience sustains their applause for 7 seconds. If they sustain their applause that long, the emcee awards the competitor an extra point, an encore point.
Because this was a fairly evenly matched competition, that extra encore point made a HUGE difference in the scores each night. One comedian dropped from 7th place to 14th place because they didn't get the encore point.
"She gave some comics 1 second for the applause point. For others, 10 seconds," an anonymous comedian asserted. I witnessed this on a nightly basis. We saw her bring comedians back before they even left the stage. Then, for some comedians, she waited and waited and waited then finally shook her head no. Her point system became so erratic that by the 5th night, all the comedians started hooting and hollering for each other just to make sure we all got the encore point. In Bellingham, after one person obviously got the point, I yelled "Just give them the fricking point!"
My theory is if you can't count, you aren't qualified to do the job. That's not just my theory for keeping score; that's my theory for any job you can possibly have. The first question any job interviewer should ask,- before anything else- is "Can you count?" If the answer is "No," or "I'm not sure," or, "can you repeat the question," then the interviewer should smile, give the interviewee a stuffed bunny, and send them on their way. They are clearly mentally challenged. Note: there is no interview process prior to emceeing the Seattle International Comedy Competition. I'm starting to think there should be, though. Kidding. I hear next week's emcee is awesome!
The stall set meltdown
Before we get into this next part, you need to understand what a "stall set" is. At the end of most stand-up contests, the judges need about 20 minutes to tabulate the scores before announcing the winners. During this time, a headliner usually entertains the audience. Because this headliner is stalling for time, this is called a "stall set."
Stall sets are not easy. They happen after 2 hours of fast paced, 'A material' comedy. A stall set requires an exceptional comedian to keep the crowd in their seats because people are tired, they need to pee, they have babysitters, and their attention span is worn out. It's like foreplay after sex. "Want to make out?" "Not really. I'm going to sleep." "Don't go to sleep. I have a big surprise. You just have to wait 20-30 minutes." Most people do not want to wait- especially if they are a hostile bar crowd. So, a stall set is a tough job. (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) had a hard time doing it. The rest of the favorite moments occurred during her stall set.
The Rick Hole incident
The Rick Hole incident was the most popular (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) moment. 5 or 6 comedians brought this one up to me. Throughout the night, if you paid attention, you could see a "Rick Hole" campaign sign popping out from the stage left curtains, right where the comedians entered the stage. Uh oh. I knew this was going to be a problem.
Rick Hole is a politician with a suggestive name. Hole's campaign signs were all over Hoquiam, the southern Washington coastal town where we did our show the previous night. Rick Hole had won his election- despite his dong-ish name. (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) had some funny jokes about that situation. They worked really well in Hoquiam.
The joke got such a good response in Hoquiam that (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) brought the joke to Bellingham. Unfortunately, local jokes are not as funny when they are 200 miles from their source.
One comic told me the joke "didn't go over because nobody gives a sh#t."
Another said "It was funny cause it was there. It was there but that ho brought it here."
The rodeo story
(COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) was about halfway through a long story about a rodeo when she noticed no one liked it. "F#ck the rodeo story. I'm doing something else." Then she said "This is the worst show I've ever had."
A heckler yelled out "you suck!" She wasn't doing well before this, but the "you suck" rattled her. If you don't have thick skin, this kind of heckle can really hurt. You get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. I don't wish that on my worst enemy- well, maybe on my worst enemy. My 2nd worst enemy, Ronald, doesn't deserve that though.
Turns out the heckler was a disgruntled comedian. He acknowledged that this was disrespectful, "What has to happen for contestants to yell out 'you suck?!'" He must really not like her. Comedians typically stick together. Even if there's a comedian we don't like, there's still a level of respect you give them- if only for the sake of the show itself.
After the "you suck" guy, (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) lost control.
The period girl
One of the girls in the front row loudly told her friend that she was on her period. (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) "told the period girl she was going to shove a tampon down her throat to shut her up." That girl talked throughout the night so (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) basically told her to choke on her tampon.
She told another heckler "Why don't you shut the f#ck up." Then the heckler said "Maybe if you're funny I would." Then the heckler's date said "Well, this show's gone to hell." Ouch.
(COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) was dying- in a bad way. We comedians were dying- in a good way! This was awesome! Most comedians have bombed- HARD- several times throughout their career. Everybody has a bad day at work. A set goes bad then the crowd and/or the comedian gives up. It's a horrible thing to be a part of- unless you're a comedian in the back of the room. Then it's glorious. Nobody likes it when their house burns down. Everybody likes watching somebody else's house burn down. We comics were thinking "At least that's not me!"
One comedian was super focused during her closing set. When the other comedians tried to converse with him about what was happening, he just tuned them out. "I couldn't be talked to. It was like watching the closer get blown away in game 7 of the World Series."
I'm getting paid
At times, (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) tried to find the bright side. One comedian's favorite was "how many times she said 'I'm getting paid for this' during her closing set." She said "I'm getting paid for this" 7-8 times during her set. This didn't help. If you don't like what someone is doing, you probably don't want to hear they are making money doing it. "I am a pedophile. Good news, though, it's very profitable for me."
Pretty much every comedian had a favorite (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) moment for me. However, one sharply dressed contestant told me he would not participate in this conversation.
Sarcastically, he said "How about the part where she had to do 45 minutes? She had to do 15 minutes for a cold crowd and 20 minutes at the end when they were tabulating the points and the crowd was angry. How come we couldn't get a better comedian for THAT?"
Well, he did make a good point. (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) did a job nobody wanted. Usually, for a contest, an emcee does the warm-up set and a headliner does the stall set. On this night, (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) did both. Yikes.
Another comedian pointed out that she was simply taking the negative crowd reaction too hard. "I just don't understand why she took this personally. Kill 20 minutes in front of the crowd. Kill time. You enjoy the beating. She was taking it personally." He makes a good point. Sometimes, you are put in a crappy spot. You know it. The booker knows it. The other comedians know it. It's not a reflection on you. You just have to grin and bear it.
Even though her warm-up set was a bit rocky, she plowed through the stall set. It was rough, but at least she did it. There is something to be said for that. Also, we have all tanked at some point. She's a fellow comic. Maybe we shouldn't judge her.
I was pondering the words from the sharply dressed comedian that defended (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED). Then he went off on a drunken rant because there weren't any free drinks for the comedians. "This place was full. Now that the show is over, this place is empty! It's not like we brought the crowd. We don't deserve free drinks!"
My personal favorite
After (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) left, all of us comedians were hanging out just joking and laughing. We were all super excited to talk about our favorite (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) moments. A lot of times in competitions, there is this tension you feel towards other competitors. You like them, but you hope they trip or screw up a joke or something. I have heard comics say things like "Oh, that guy won?!? That's ridiculous!" You see jealousy, insecurity, anger. This type of separative behavior wasn't there this week. Instead, we all had a common bane. We united. It felt good.
"When she said 'That's my time.' Don't put my name on that, by the way."
FINAL NIGHT IN SEATTLE
The final night in Seattle, we were at the contest's home club, the Seattle Underground. Before, the show, Peter Greyy took a group picture. I am going to miss all these guys.
Then, during the show, two things happened that I think were pretty funny:
A quiet green room
Because (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) had screwed up some of the names throughout the week, one comedian opened his set with "Keep it going for Jane Beerheart!" She got him back, though. After his set, she gypped him of his encore point. The crowd applauded for what seemed like forever. It was at least 9 seconds. Instead of awarding the point, she brought up the next comedian. Angry, this comic walked to the back of the room, flipped (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) off, called her a c#nt, then slammed the green room door.
Prior to the show, Peter Greyy, Ron Reid, and several of the club's staff warned us repeatedly to keep our green room conversations down because the walls were thin and any loud talk could disrupt the show. They didn't say anything about slamming the door.
Two crappy judges
(COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED) came up to me towards the end of the show "You guys owe me. One of the judges kept falling asleep so I kept hitting him on his shoulder to wake him up." Wow. Thanks, for taking care of that, (COMEDIAN'S NAME REDACTED)! Kudos.
But that judge was a piece of crap. He has one job: watch the show and give his opinion. All the contestants were busting their butt all week and this guy couldn't stay awake for 2 hours. I wonder if the sleepy judge was the judge that gave me the really low score or the really high score.
I was in the back of the room talking with Barbara Holm. I asked "What if he is judging us on how our jokes are affecting his dreams?"
She mocked the narcoleptic judge, "I'm dreaming of dinosaurs and unicorns. Those are my favorites. You win!"
According to an anonymous source, another judge plugged her fingers into her ears every time she heard something vulgar.
I have seen pretty much every set all week. I have no idea what material offended that judge. Too bad that thin-skinned judge wasn't the one falling asleep all night. What if every time she heard a "vulgar joke" she passed out? I'd like to meet that person in real life. I'd tell her a dirty joke then steal her purse while she slept.
Like I said before, it has been a great week! I didn't move on in the contest, but I have some other great things on the horizon. Last night, I flew into Boston. Tonight, I perform my first set for the Boston Comedy Festival.
Any time you do a contest, you risk working for free- or worse yet, at great cost. Last week I worked for negative money. I didn't get paid and I had food and gas expenses. This week, I have already spent $400 in flights, food and ground transportation to do the show tonight.
Good news, though: I have a place to stay. I am a registered couchsurfer. I am sleeping on the floor again. As my friend Susan Jones told me, "You went from air mattress to air mattress." True enough. Story of my life.
Bye! I'm Jake!
P.S. I just found out Andy Erickson from the Twin Cities moved on in the Boston Contest. She is super funny. Awesome!
CORRECTION: It was brought to my attention that Mike Drucker bought the pizza, not Derek Sheen. I'm not sure why I screwed that up. Also, why didn't you buy us pizza, Derek?