A lot of men fantasize about doing stand-up comedy at a comedy club. This Monday night, I did it. And it was wonderful fun.
Monday a week ago, I followed Dr. Petit out of the New Haven courthouse, walked beside him as the TV cameramen followed his sister and him across Orange Street to the private parking area they must pay big money to park in during the second Cheshire home invasion capital murder trial. I stood and watched as Dr. Petit got into the back seat of a blue mini-van with darkened windows. A young man on a bicycle stopped to ask me what was going on with all the satellite TV trucks, the pretty female TV reporters, and the cameramen in tee-shirts, jeans, and flip flops.
"They're hoping they can get Dr. Petit to say something newsworthy about the murder trial of the second man who raped his daughter, burned his house down and, in the process, suffocated his wife and two daughters." Wow, Elijah Sanchez said to me, I had no idea that was going on right her in downtown New Haven. He told me he was an Americorps teacher from Sacramento, California and was very interested when I told him I am a retired trial lawyer who wants to test the comic waters by doing stand-up. Then come to the Koji asian restaurant next Monday night at 10 p.m. and they'll give you 5 minutes. I checked my dumb-phone appointments calendar, saw that it was free of anything I couldn't change, e.g. taking Susie to a doctor's appoitment, and put Elijah's email address into my dumb-phone so that dumb yours truly would be able to remember how to contact him later.
Monday, two days ago, was uneventful, until, that is, I was driving down to the Koji at 9 p.m., when I was thinking to myself, "What the f--k have I gotten myself into now? I'm not comic, I'm not even very funny. I'm scared sh--less." But I also remembered what Rev. Carleton Giles preached on Sunday at the black church I go to. "If you're worried about something, don't let it eat away at you. Pray about it and let it go." So I prayed that God would give me the power to do the comedy which I've gotten great responses to, at McDonalds, in the food stores, at the Wesleyan University dining hall and student center, at Miller's Pond, and, on Monday just before I left for the comedy club, in the Wesleyan school library, Olin Library.
There are so many details I could tell you about, about what I did on Monday, leading up to the comedy club, but I'll spare you those and get down to bid-ness (as W was Wont to say).
The Koji asian restaurant is at 182 Temple Street in New Haven. Here's the website: http://www.kojirestaurantnewhaven.com/about
The asian roll and seaweed salad I had was fresh, well-presented, and only $17.00 ($10 for the roll; $7 for the salad; I left a $3 tip). The right side of the restaurant space as you enter from the street is a large, open-area with high tables with stools. The bar is on the right wall and far wall.
Directly ahead as you enter is a smaller, rectangular room with a stage and microphone on the far wall. There are small tables along the left wall, with a bench seating along the wall and chairs on the other side of the tables. This room is The Koji Komedy Klub, the KKK. Well, now, folks, that's not what they call it or what I want to call it. After all, I'm now going to a black church, Zion First Baptist, and although I'm totally accepted by my fellow parishioners, I'm not sure they'd be happy if I were doing stand-up at a place called the KKK.
Now the stand-up did not begin until about 10:30 p.m. I got there about 9:30 p.m., so I had an hour before the shows to kid around with the bartenders, the non-comic patrons, and the men and woman who turned out to be experienced stand-up comedians, of varying degrees of skill at being funny on stage.
One thing I learned for sure at the KKK. Comics, comedians, wannabe-funny people do NOT laugh at anybody's else's stuff unless it's REALLY funny. Now the good thing is, the bartenders, a man who claimed he was from Sheboygan (I think my Price Family homies know where that place is at) and a young lady, found my attempted-funny-repartee in the pre-show period, in the bar, where I was drinking my usual strong beverage of Tap Water, pretty funny. I had them smiling and laughing at my kibitzing with then. They told the guy who looked like he was a terrorist from Syria or Iraq, but is actually only a pretty funny young guy from Trumbull, Connecticut, that "Bob's definitely ready to put on a show." I took this as some evidence that my ad-lib humor is pretty funny, to laypeople who are not trying to compete with me as stand-up comics.
The other thing I learned at the KKK is even more important than the first. My funny stuff is CLEAN-AS-THE-DRIVEN-SNOW funny stuff. The young comics, which is all the other 10 people who performed on stage that night, were TOTALLY raunchy, crude, sexual, explicit. Even I found it hard to listen to some of what they had to say. And Elijah left the comedy club part of the Koji and hung around the restaurant during the command performance of the "always funny Comedic Stylings of Cali, let's give it up for Cali," (this was, approximately, the essence of the introduction of Cali to the audience of amateur comics). For Cali was definitely THE GROSSEST OF THE MOSTLY GROSS verbal productions of the other comics.
When it finally came time for my set, my routines were so SQUEAKY CLEAN that some of the comics in the audience undoubtedly thought I must be a Catholic priest and live in a monastery. My stuff did NOT involve bodily fluids, of varying degrees of stickiness, intimate acts, or racially offensive "jokes" involving the use of the N word. I kid you not, the MC, who looks like a north African Arab terrorist (just kidding; he's actually a very American guy from Trumbull, Connecticut, and does not even have an Arab accent, let alone any non-American accent), told some N word jokes after the two black comics, who work as a team, one fat with a bright red shirt and the other thin with a very black shirt, also told several N-word jokes.
So my routines involved the "checkout lady who gives me lip I wouldn't take from my wife of 40 years," "what size McDonalds Newman's Own Organic Coffee should I buy tomorrow morning, the small, the medium, or the large, all of which cost a dollar six cents with free refills throughout the day," and then the MC terrorized my act by showing his I-phone to me and suggesting the phone was demanding I wrap up my act. So I did my (I think; so do most non-comic audiences) "loop-back" story about the difference in price of Wesleyan and Berkeley tuition, son Jamie's band "Holy Shit," and what words the audience imagines would exit my big mouth if I only had to take a Berkeley tuition out of our 529 college savings plan to pay for one of my kids going to University of California at Berkeley, rather than an obscenely high Wesleyan tuition. The answer has something to do with the name of my son's band.
When I sat back down with Elijah, he high-fived me and told me my act was "excellent" and, unlike the others, situational humor arising out of everyday life, not just jokes and one-liners. While he may have been motivated primarily by wanting me to feel good about my performance, there was also, clearly, and I knew it, truth in what he said about my act.
Well, I want to get this post up so you can read it. There's lots more I could, and will, say, about the experience, but I want to get it to you before you fall asleep more soundly than this blog post has already monotonized you into a state of deep rem sleep.