Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Standup comedy shows and their part in my downfall

Man has always been a sucker for proving himself courageous. Show a Zulu lad a lion, for instance, and he will lose no time in grabbing a spear and challenging the beast to a duel, overlooking completely that he, the lad, weighs about 90 pounds to the lion's  600.

I have a similar impulse whenever I see open mics in comedy places. One does not actually grab a spear and challenge the audience but in nearly every other aspect, the contest is no less unequal.

Thus, last night I found myself confronting a grim looking lot for four eternal minutes. It was on the urging of a close friend, the chap known on twitter as @chuck_gopal, that I did this, and I silently cursed him for having talked me into it. And then I realized it was me. I had wanted to do this. I gulped and started my talk

I had taken the precaution of imbibing sufficient quantities of the stuff earlier in the evening but it did not succeed in suppressing the fluttering in the stomach. I had also, I realised, omitted among all this hustle and bustle, to actually write down something before hand. So about 8 seconds before I was due to be handed the mic, I found my mind completely blank. This is a desirable state of being if you're a practitioner of yogic meditation but not if you're a stand-up comedian staring into a sea of furrowed brows and stony eyes of a group of yuppies miffed at having their electronica music turned off. "You had better be good" those eyes seemed to say "and you'd better have some ethnicity based mimicry handy"

I'm terrible at mimicry. I couldn't imitate a cow eating grass even. So I told them something I had heard back in the old MBA days, which I remember thinking rather clever at the time, which went "I can speak faster than anyone who can speak better than me and I can speak better than anyone who can speak faster than me".

The eyes grew stonier. I made a joke about my sons trolling me. Stonier. One about them convincing me that Edinburgh was pronounced Edinbra which of course was actually short for Edinbrassiere. Not a twitch. The crowd as @chuck_gopal told me later, was tough. He also very diplomatically told me that my stuff was too cerebral for the general public. "Eh?" I remarked to him. "That means" he said in a kindly voice, "not containing any mimicry items". Apparently @chuck_gopal's stuff also was too cerebral for our distinguished audience. We sighed and downed our drinks, he a beer, I my old monk rum, both secretly wishing it were hemlock.

To get on with the story, I prattled on for another three minutes, expecting something squishy to be thrown at me.  Luckily, nothing of the sort happened.

Anyway, the experience has left me a better person, more in tune with the trials and tribulations of my fellow humans, and I have solemnly resolved never to open-mic again, at least not till I have bested a lion with a spear


Mind Chow Speaks said...

Naren sir, A big congrats on having done your first standup. The next time you can keep it less "cerebral", you know for the lesser folks :)

Giribala said...

We learn from our experiences. Better luck next time :-)

maxdavinci said...

sadly sardar jokes still work

Amit said...

Saar. I agree with DG. Crowd must not have been cerebral enough!

But then, if you were to give up because of (lack of) feedback, you wouldn't be a true MBA. Go for it. Hit them Baba one more time!

Basically Blah said...

Tsk, tsk. Racist (read: "South Indian jokes if you're up north or North Indian jokes if you're down south), sexist (read: stereotype women), leftist, Marxist and dentist quips strike a chord with most non-cerebral crowds. Okay, the latter three I made up because I ran out of "-ist" words.

When all else fails, there's always Justin Bieber.

Sharatchandra Bhargav said...

Jerry Seinfeld always comes to my mind when I think of standup comedy. To this day I never tire of watching endless runs of Seinfeld.

Naren, I'm sure you'll be a great standup. One suggestion, if you can transpose some of your posts into the 4 minutes of standup, that itself would be hilarious, albeit unfortunately more celebral for sure.