Fiction Fragment Friday
I am hard at work at NaNoWriMo and doing well so far. I am over 8,000 words in and have hit the goals needed so far. I hope to get some extra writing in over the weekend so I have some slack in wordcount. I tell you all this to setup this weeks Fiction Fragment Friday. I’m going to share with you the first thousand or so words of my project.
I can usually tell by the second joke if an audience is going to respond to my set or not. There is just an energy in the room that you can feel. Sure it is always possible that I can turn the night around but when I feel that lack of energy it starts to get into my head. The voice that sounds like a cross between my own and my parents’ tells me that I’m not really a comedian. That I should have gone to college and learned something more practical. This mental spiral is like an anchor dragging me under while I fight to get my head above water and build some sort of momentum. It is a sinking feeling knowing that the next forty-five minutes of standing in the bright spotlight are going to be painful, but I have no choice. I have to keep going because I am a professional and these people have paid to see my act. Some nights they enjoy the act and other nights they wonder why they paid to see me. This was one of those second kind of nights.
Most people think that bombing means silence, but that is not the case. There are multiple ways a bad night can go. First if the audience just isn’t feeling the show you will still get some sympathy laughs. That sympathy is more for them than for you. It is awkward to sit in silence so letting out a forced laugh or chuckle helps to break it up. The second kind of failure is when you have a heckler who is loud and just will not shut up. The worst part is sometimes they are actually funny and that is just like salt being poured in the wound. That night was a third kind of failure. When you step on a land-mine you didn’t realize was there and the audience turns on you. A single heckler is bad but a crowd of boos and groans is worse.
Really people are just too judgmental. So I told a joke about Mayor Allen being an idiot. It wasn’t my fault I didn’t know that he had been killed by a super-villain earlier that day shielding a little girl. Did they expect me to watch the news or something? No I slept until around one and played video games until my girlfriend called me to make sure I wasn’t late for this gig like last time. That joke would have killed on any other night. In hindsight telling the audience that after they told me about the murder was probably not the best reaction I could have had. It’s a good thing I get paid per set and not by the laugh because once they hate you as a person you are not going to get a laugh. It is a good thing I know I’m funny or a night like this could really hurt a guys ego.
At the back of the room I saw the emcee lift her phone up and wave the lit screen at me. This was my cue to start wrapping things up so the main act could take the stage. I glanced down at my watch and noticed that she was signaling me ten minutes early and made a mental note to buy her a thank you shot. Jessie had been a good friend since high-school and she was the reason I had gotten my foot in the door at the Reignsborough Laugh Shack. She even introduced me to my girlfriend Courtney who if I was honest was way out of my league. Of course in high school Jessie was Ethan so a lot had changed in the time we had known each other. Still buds have your back and she was trying to cut my pain short and I was very grateful.
I got off stage and headed to the bar where she was waiting with a beer. “Ouch that was painful to watch.”
“You are a life saver as always.” I chugged back the beer.
“Seriously though man you had to start off with the mayor is distracted by shiny objects bit? Today? What the hell did you think would happen?”
“Welllll, first of all I didn’t know. Secondly.. I guess there is no secondly. I just didn’t know. I have got the worst luck ever.”
She stood there shaking her head at me. I knew the look she was giving me. It was disappointment mixed with pity. “It’s not luck it is you living oblivious to the world around you. Most comedians watch the news and try to be relevant you know. Also most comedians don’t show up with a big salsa stain on their shirt.”
I looked down and sure enough she was right. There by my collar line was a big red stain. I groaned and slumped onto the stool.
“Carl when are you going to get your life together? You have such potential if you just…”
I cut her off and could not keep the frustration out of my voice. “Great now you sound just like Courtney.”
“Well she is my best friend,” she said ignoring my frustration.
“Wait I thought I was your best friend.”
“Are you kidding me? After that set if anyone asks I don’t even know you.” She chuckled and I realized she was giving me an out again.
I put my hand over my heart, gasped, and fell to the floor. “Ouch a mortal wound.”
Between the laughter she choked out, “Now that was the funniest thing you have done all night.”
Laughter filled the club hitting me like a hammer to my self esteem. “Well I think that is my cue to get out of here while the crowd is distracted so they don’t wait for me in the parking lot.” I pulled myself up and gave Jessie a goodbye hug. “Thanks again Jess, I really do appreciate everything you do for me.”
“Get out of here funny man before I hit you. You know I don’t do well with flattery.”