This past week, I spent four days in the Big Apple, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. As Alicia Keys sings, “there’s nothing you can’t do.” Except, it seems, there is something you can’t do: be a stand-up comic. Let me explain.One night, I decided to explore Times Square with several other GC students. We got roped into a conversation with a very charismatic guy selling tickets to a stand-up comedy club. We knew we were getting scammed. The club had a two-drink minimum (the cheapest drink was water for $5), and the lineup for the evening was “comedians you are guaranteed to never have heard of.”
Now, I know comedy is a difficult field to break into. I made the mistake of assuming that comedy was like singing — I know plenty of amazing singers that are so talented but will never become well-known. I figured this club would be similar. Spoiler alert: if you’ve never heard of a comedian, it probably means they’re just not good.
The charm and charisma of the vendor won us over, and we wanted to live on the edge a little. Looking back, the guy selling us the tickets was probably funnier than any of the actual acts.
We sat in the front row: prime ribbing seating. The first guy to perform was an MIT grad who had worked on Wall Street for 10 years before quitting to follow his dream. Now, I’m all for following your dreams — as long as you’re actually good at those dreams. Going from being a financial analyst on Wall Street to a mediocre stand-up comedian in your 40s is just not a good look.
The second guy was young. He honestly actually might have a chance in the world of comedy.
The third guy — and may I add that all of these acts were MEN; that is saying something, right?? — was decently funny, albeit a bit morbid. He made one too many kidnapping jokes for my taste and ruminated on the act of smearing fecal matter in a gym shower for way too long.
The fourth guy was awful. I mean seriously atrocious. He started by pulling out a notebook and saying “I’m supposed to do a comedy special in January and I have these 10 minutes of content that is just not funny yet,” before proceeding to treat us as his guinea pigs by testing out jokes. I did not pay $20 to a random guy on the street for that. The first joke he tried had already been told by the second guy, and the rest were followed by groans from the audience. I’m honestly not sure how he stayed up there and finished his set. The audience was growing increasingly hostile by the minute, and if we had had tomatoes to throw, we would have. I only aspire to have that level of bravery someday.
The fifth guy had a very annoying laugh. That should immediately disqualify someone for pursuing a career in stand-up.
The last guy (and by this point I was very ready to be done) was maybe my favorite of the night. He had a pretty good impression of a well-known, orange politician, and political satire usually wins me over. Plus, he actually kept sexist jokes to a minimum! Only one “insult the girlfriend” joke in there!
All in all, next time I am in New York City, I will make sure to read the reviews before buying tickets to a random comedy club. If I’m paying $20 to be entertained, the lounge better have at LEAST two stars.