Standing-Up: The Documentary (8)

So … the older guy at the New York Comedy Club suggested we talk afterwards. We did, but very briefly. He said my routine had been good, but that I needed to understand the difference between ‘storytelling’ and ‘one-liners’. ‘Did I?’ I wondered. We hadn’t really covered that in the Logan Murray course, and I didn’t want to confuse things. I’d simply wanted to practise my bee-sting stuff in order to not make a complete arse of myself in the Barcelona comedy final scheduled for Friday 19th October. It was true that the ‘comedians’ who had been on before me – Jerry, Josh, Joey, Jared and Jay, or whoever they were – had all hit home with snappy one-liners about cocks, tits, shit, lesbians, incest, paedophiles and Christopher Reeve – but maybe if they’d all created a little bit of ‘storytelling’ before their ‘one-liners’ – you know, just a tiny bit, just to build it all up – then maybe I would have laughed more, too. But I didn’t say that. Instead I took his flyer which offered a course entitled ‘Storytelling for Stand-Up Comics’ at some Midtown studio location, which would have cost me $375 for 6 weeks (or $350 if I was a ‘returning student’), and I headed back to my hotel near Central Park. There, thanks to jet-lag, I tossed and turned all night, churning over in my mind whether storytellers needed to learn stand-up gags, or whether stand-up comedians needed to learn storytelling. It is something that still intrigues me – and even more so after these last 10 days of open-mic gigs in London with Frank Blunt’s documentary team (but we’ll get back to all that, in due course) …

Monday 15th October in Manhattan and I had many intense meetings for my day-job (well, my only job), trying to negotiate new magazine licensing deals for Spain – but at 5.30pm, once all the New Yorkers had given up on meetings and were heading to their cocktail-happy-hours (in other words, about the same time most Madrileños return from lunch), I rushed to another open-mic I’d signed up for … ‘Monday Mic-Madness’ at The Broadway Comedy Club, 318 West 53rd Street. This time it was free, but we were encouraged to buy a drink, and our stage time would be 5-7 minutes. I’m nuts, I know, but I thought, ‘why not’? I still needed to practise my bee-sting spiel, and last night at the New York Comedy Club, despite the storytelling/one-liner debate, had encouraged me enough to give it another go. This would just be my 4th time, though, remember? – I mean, there’d been Logan’s ‘show’, then the Barcelona comedy competition ‘heat’, then last night … so I’d ‘performed’ twice in Barcelona, once in New York, and now I was about to ‘perform’ again in New York – I was probably already the most internationally-travelled wannabe-stand-up ever … but what happened next? I bombed. It was a disaster. No-one laughed at all. I repeat: No-one. Laughed. At. All. There was utter silence for 6 minutes. I felt the back of my neck going red. My mouth went dry. I wanted to die. I felt I had died. I never, ever, ever wanted to experience it again … but I would … (to be continued)

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