[When we last left Daniel, he was attending a “theater people” birthday party where no other comedians seemed to be in attendance. And now, part two.—Eds]
Why did I think comics would come less than four hours late to a friend’s party? We have open mics to hit. Damn the day you think your birth can outshine a comedian’s three minutes of glory.
Just when it seemed all hope was lost—following seven more renditions of “Happy Birthday” as sung by Marilyn Monroe—our host announced more comics had arrived. I ran to greet them, like a child who’d been left at a nursing home, as my eyes welled up with whiskey tears. They were understandably confused before hearing what had been endured, but now was the most important moment of any event when there are three or more comics: It was time for an impromptu comedy showcase in the basement.
It was definitely the nicest basement in which I’d ever been tricked into telling jokes—complete with carpets, furniture, and walls. One comic volunteered to guest host, a brilliant strategy allowing them to disappear and raid the kitchen after the first introduction. There was no microphone, despite the karaoke rig in the garage. It was just us, a room of theater freaks, and our shared need for the constant and undeserved attention our parents couldn’t afford to give us.
The first comic took to the stage and weathered the storm of heckling, just as a bullet should. (It’s the job of the “bullet” to test the waters, so subsequent performers know how heinous the crowd will be.) Heckling, despite popular misconception, is any conversation from the audience the comedian hasn’t specifically requested. It soon became clear this definition would need to be explained. The bullet took the blows and wrangled just enough attention to consider it a set, rather than shitty small talk—which is exactly what a set becomes if the audience tries to interact.
Then the second comic, followed by myself. Having been lectured by the second performer, the audience was under control when I started, with the exception of the party guest no one knew had been drinking solo upstairs, and made their entrance in the middle of my set, declaring “Help me! I’m too fucked up!” All the same, I punched my way through the bedlam.
Our host had stated he wouldn’t “light” anyone, but the house disagreed, and out went the lights. Knowing there was another comic following me, I extended my set, hoping to keep the energy alive, until the electricity had been revived. No such luck. I could only corral these theatrical creatures for so long, illuminated by two tea lights and my smart watch. So I threw in the towel and abandoned the evening’s closer to the beasts.
In the end, there’s no party like a theater party, and nothing less reliable than the protection of your fellow comedians. I give the party seven out of 10 for being the worst night of comedy I’ve ever done, but giving me enough comic fodder to write two reviews.