Bergman: You can’t do thatWritten by Keith Bergman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In my eyes, I’m still a comedy newbie. But when I travel to other states for paid gigs, I’m often a battle-scarred vet compared to some of the people opening the shows, or doing guest spots before the main acts. And to some of the patrons, many of whom are at their first comedy event ever, I’m the real thing. It’s weird (but kind of flattering, honestly) to be seen as an authority on standup, or a professional, when you still feel like you’re at square one.
If an audience member comes up to talk after the show, chances are they’re going to tell you how they always wanted to do it. They feel like they missed their calling, they’re the funniest person at work, their wife is sick of all their jokes (okay, that last one I’ll believe). They’re nice enough, usually good for a free beer, and they’re genuinely happy to be talking to a comedian, so that’s a fun interaction.
Less pleasant are the ones who take that mindset to an extreme. I’ve had people tactless enough to say, to me or another performing comic, “I’m funnier than everyone who was on stage tonight.” Worse are the ones, sometimes open mikers themselves, who insist “yeah, I could be doing this touring stuff, and kicking ass at it, if I just didn’t have this job/these kids/that ankle bracelet stopping me.”
Do these guys go to NFL games and insist they could outrun the wide receivers if not for that recent hemorrhoidectomy? Do they walk into museums and roll their eyes at the paintings, certain they could out-Monet Monet if they really put their mind to it? How arrogant and condescending can you be?
I’m not saying I’m the best, or even that great. But I have that job, and those kids, and a life that was plenty complicated enough before I started my years-long unpaid apprenticeship in the lowest levels of open mic hell. And I DID do it. The work put in by those who HAVE hit the road, sacrificed their time and treasure, and sold their proverbial souls for rock and roll is not something you get to dismiss or claim ownership to.
Maybe you can do what I do, random rude jackass. But you WON’T do what I did to get to this point. And that’s why I’m on the stage, with money in my pocket and free beer in my hand, and you paid a cover charge to sit in the cheap seats and talk smack.
Make sure you don’t miss Stand Up Toledo 2014, this Sunday at 7pm at the Maumee Indoor Theater. Ten of the area’s best comics are performing at this prestigious annual event, hosted by Chili Challis. Visit www.standuptoledo.com for ticket information and more details.
Keith Bergman curates the Two Buck Yuks comedy show at the Blarney Event Center, 601 Monroe St., every Wednesday at 8. Tonight, January 15, Matt McClowry headlines the show, while Bill Bushart tops the bill January 22.