This past week, I got to host at a comedy club for the first time in my comedy career. I had only hosted once before at Burritoville in March last year. At Burritoville, I was excited to be up over and over again. I was excited that the lineup kept getting longer and we had surprise drop-ins by local comics and Toronto comics who were in town prepping for Just For Laughs. Burritoville is an accepting venue where I’ve gotten away with my more high-concept material. Burritoville is where I am most comfortable and I would call it my stomping grounds.
This time, I was hosting at the Comedy Nest (in the AMC Forum). I was a little anxious. I arrived an hour early. As showtime drew nearer, I watched as (maybe) seven people were seated and I thought to myself ,“I’m going to have to make these 7 people feel like 50.” Then a minute shy of the call-off time to cancel the show, about 20 people came in to the club and filled out the front area nicely. This was happening. I was going to host a lineup of comedians, 14-strong.
And I was going to host the shit out of this show.
It was probably one of the most liberating stand-up experiences I’ve ever had. I took this opportunity as a way to exercise my ability to read a crowd and to be light on my mind-feet. I kept some short punchy bits in my catalogue at the ready for moments when a heavy boost of momentum was necessary, but mostly I intended on using my time on stage to do some crowdwork.
Overall, I had a great time and will be doing more hosting as I go on in comedy.
That being said, I had another heckler in the crowd. Before you begin to think that I’m just going to get mad at this guy and lecture him about how my favourite branch of stand-up is one where the comedian executes their material to a receptive and attentive audience, let me just say this: This time it was great.
There were no stakes. I didn’t have any material to test or get through. I just had to make sure the audience was having fun and I left them laughing before I brought up the next act. About six comics in, two empty front row seats were filled by a very drunk man and his buddy. The buddy was apologetic and kept his face in his hands most of the time. Drunk man, Jonathan III as he dubbed himself, yelled emphatically for no reason. I was just about to introduce the next comedian, but instead I said, “I have to talk to this guy for a bit now”.
And I did. He was lobbing the ball in easy. The whole room thought he was insufferable and he provided me with most of the laughs during my time on stage (at his expense of course).
Right before the penultimate act however, Jonathan III found me behind the curtain waiting to go back on stage. He stopped me on his way to what he thought was the exit and told me, “One day, I’ll get more laughs than you and people will know me more than you.” He continued to try and exit the club the wrong way and as a result had to pass me again to get out for real. He said, “Oh, man! Could you imagine I got to leave right now? That was the PERFECT exit line! Fuck.” To which I responded “I hope you know that people will laugh, but not for the reasons you might want.”
And then he said something I never wanted to hear: “My dad says I’m funny… when he fucks me in the ass.”
I guess we all have a different understanding of humor.