Skull Fest 2012: Part 3 of 3: The Weird Flashy Light Incident

Hi!  I'm Jake!

If you have been reading my sweet blog this week, then you know on Wednesday competed in a preliminary round of the 2011 Laughing Skull Comedy Festival.  This entry is part 3 of 3.  In Part 1, I talked about how great the Laughing Skull Lounge is. In Part 2, I talked about how every comedy contest is a big old gamble. For this entry, I am focusing specifically on a weird thing that happened during my set. Also, I want to talk about how the contest started off a cool chain of events.

WARNING: Because this is the final entry in this 3-part series, I am doing a lot of wrap-up and whatnot. So, this entry is slightly longer than the other 2. Just be excited that you know how to read.

If you read my entries for the 2010 Seattle Competition, then you know that weird things always happen to me during contests. Back then, I had the gum incident.  This time, I had a light incident.

See, whenever you are performing at a comedy club- especially in a contest- it is extremely important to stick to your time.  6 minutes means 6 minutes. It never means 8 minutes.  It doesn't even mean 6:30.  When you have 6 minutes, you do 6 minutes.

QUICK NOTE: I quit wearing a watch in April 2010.  That's also when I quit coffee and I quit weed. I decided I just don't need any of those harmful things in my life anymore.

To make sure comedians stick to their time, comedy clubs often "light" them.  If you've ever been to a pro comedy show, you may have heard a headliner say "Well, you guys are fun, but I got the light so I better start wrapping up."  That means that somewhere in the back of the room, somebody from the club flashed them a light (a pen light, flashlight, spotlight, candle, or big-ass neon sign) indicating they have x amount of time left.  On Wednesday, for example, I had a 6-minute set. Again, they told us in the rules "That does not mean 6:30." They told us if we went 6:30 or more, we'd be disqualified. Yikes.

I carefully planned out my set to stay within the time.  Being as it was a contest set, I mainly stuck to my material- but I always have to riff a little. Contestant #4, TJ Young, one of the Beards of Comedy, had a great bit about how it's hard for Batman to take off his costume and pee.  I was contestant #6. After I did a bit about my son, Batman, I did a call-back to TJ's bit and told the crowd that regardless of his outfit, my goofy son, Batman, pees whenever he's ready- costume or no costume. That was fun.

What wasn't fun is part-way through my set, I noticed a flashing light in the back corner of the room. Uh oh! No way!  I thought I had only done 2 or 3 minutes so far! Crap! I know I had dinked around a bit, but there was no way I had a minute left! Crap! Maybe I do need to wear a watch! Crap crap!

On the outside, I kept composure.  On the inside, my heart started speeding up. My performance sped up ever so slightly too.  I still had a lot to get to before I left the stage.

Here's the thing: the light was flashing, flash flash flash flash flashing! When you see a solid light, that's a calm "start wrapping up" warning.  When somebody repeatedly flashes a light, that means "get off the stage you disrespectful amateur!"

I had to figure this out quick.  I made a game time decision.  This may have been the wrong choice, but I figured since the light was already flashing like crazy, and since I was already way the frack over, I was already screwed. So, I might as well finish strong. I decided to keep on trucking

First things first, I had to fix my set. During my internal freakout, I veered off plan; I did material I didn't plan on doing and I skipped a bunch of material I had planned on doing.  Whoops! No biggie; the switched material worked. Everybody was still having fun. All was good.  However, for just a second, I forgot what was next and I accidentally plugged my website, . Really, Jake????!!! This is a contest! 6 precious minutes and you're doing commercials?  Crap! Maybe try selling shirts too!

By the way, I had plugged my website once in a contest set before- back in the 2010 Seattle Competition.  I was having a decent set, saw the light- and instead of wrapping up I plugged my website. Lame! Why does this keep happening?

That light was still flashing. Man, the light guy is persistent! The website plug had actually gotten a pretty decent response so I decided I should probably go. Just as I was about to leave the stage, I saw the real light, a big red circle.  Great.  All that thinking for nothing!  Dang it! I hate it when I think!

But the light was a second chance.  I just enough time to end big. I ended on the closer I planned on ending on, got a really good response and left the stage.

So you probably want to know who moved on that night.  That's cool.

So, I didn't move on in the contest.  Shut up. I still had a really fun time, though.  I enjoyed my set.  I like a little chaos.

A lot of great things happened that night too: The $20 free meal my girlfriend scored. I performed in an awesome room to an awesome crowd. I met a bunch of cool comics at the club. I finally met Noah Gardenswartz. We'd been chatting on facebook.  We know a lot of the same people. I got to hang out with some guys I already knew like Tushar Singh, Josh Gondelman, TJ Young, Celeste Echols,- and many many more!  People are neat.

It was just a fun trip. My girl and I got to travel to Atlanta.  I drove a sweet, pimped out, GMC SUV rental car.  My girlfriend didn't even make me listen to country music the whole time!  Thanks, baby!  I love you, but I hate your crappy taste in music!

Okay, I'll tell you about 1 of the winners: Mia Jackson owned that round. I had met her before during last year's Skull Fest and last year's Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival.  She had done well then, but she crushed this Wednesday! After her set, everybody knew she would advance.  

Whether you are getting ready for a TV set, a contest set, or just showcasing to get in with a new club, it's always good to work on your current showcase set. As my equestrian girlfriend always reminds me, "It's miles in the saddle, Jake."  She's right: the more you work your showcase set, the less pressure you will feel when you are on the spot.

Yesterday, Friday, January 6th, I did a guest set at Sidesplitters Comedy Club in Knoxville, Tennessee. I ended up doing pretty much the exact same set I used for the contest. I even did the website plug again!  Of course, a guest set actually is a good time to market yourself.  Get them to come back when you are doing your week at the club and you can show the club manager that you can draw a crowd.

The point is, a contest set is a great prelude to a guest set. My Sidesplitters guest set was a breeze. I was loose.  I was high energy.  My set was tight, no filler. Honestly, it was super easy.  As the audience filed out of the showroom, they were giving me high-fives, handshakes, and good-jobs in front of the manager. The manager, Bridgette gave me kudos, and told me how to contact her so I can get booked.

As a side bonus, the Sidesplitter comedians were really fun too.  The host, Alex Stokes, told me about a show he he wants to book me to do. Co-headliners  James Sibley and Rahn Hortman were both super cool too. They gave me their contact info.  We're going to do some networking.

By the way, that's how I get almost all my work: networking. Networking got me the Sidesplitters guest set. I had done a showcase at the Columbus Funnybone last fall. Comedian Ian Gutoskie and I hit it off.  He told me how great Sidesplitters was, told me who to talk to, and even texted Bridgette to help me get a set there.  I owe you one, Ian!

All in all, as this subheading indicates, I had a great week!  I headlined a show, met a bunch of cool comics, took my girl to a couple different states, put cash in the bank, and got in with another comedy club. 2012 is going to be my best comedy year yet.  Then, when the apocalypse comes, we will all die.

Bye! I'm Jake!

P.S. Before the apocalypse comes, check out my new CD, "JAke's First Purge!"  You can find it at, on itunes, or download it in any format for any price you choose at