It happened. I got too cocky with my stuff and I folded on stage last night.
*Harlow is only pissed to be taking this photo because it took him away from eating bar-floor food for twenty seconds. Otherwise he was having a ball I assure you. And yes, this is the ugliest photo to ever live but I needed to show you all the proof that Harlow came out to watch me do stand-up last night.
Last night's open mic was at Four Trey's Tavern in Roscoe Village. I think that area is called Roscoe's Village anyway? Four Trey's is a well known dog bar, so what do you think I did? I brought Harlow obviously. He had been begging me for months to take him along sometime so he could watch me tell some jokes, he knows my set because I practice all day around him so of course he wanted to see it live for once. It was really cold last night and way past his bedtime so Chris and I weren't going to bring him, but when we walked to the door he was already waiting there with his leash on, our house keys in his mouth and a to-go cup of booze in his paw. So I said, "Okay Har, you can come to the bar tonight," and I swear I've never seen him jump so high and squeal so loud.
I had intended to try out a bunch of new stuff last night. But because I thought I was the ruler of all things, I didn't even really practice it. I figured I was basically Amy Schumer now and could get up there and the words would just magically appear in my mouth and everybody would just laugh and applaud at how amazingly witty and talented I am. Well they didn't. After my first joke, for the first time since I've been doing this, I literally had no idea what came next. In one hot second my face was flooded with heat and my mouth went dry. So this is what it's like to bomb I thought to myself as I stood up there in the bright lights mumbling and fidgeting while trying to convince myself it would not be a good idea to run off stage crying like I wanted to. I didn't realize until last night how quickly all of the confidence from one person can drain from their body in a single instant. When I feel in control I'll say anything, but as I stood up there feeling like a complete loser I suddenly didn't want to say a single joke I could think of because they all seemed like absolute shit to me.
And then I heard it. I heard my first heckler from the back of the room. It was quiet, but it was there. It was a simple "woof." My number one supporter, my best friend in life, my dear Harlow, he heckled me last night. Woof woof woof.
The only time I could think of that I've felt worse on stage was back in '94 when I was starring in a Norfolk Community Playhouse production of "Super Gift From Heaven." My co-star and love interest on stage, Freddie Freckles, was sick for a day and because he wasn't nearly as devoted as I was he called in his under-study. I of course wanted to play both roles, I actually think it would have gone a lot better had I been able to. But no, his "understudy" was his older sister, whom I should add had no freckles but had a chest much too large to be appropriate for a boy who goes by the name "Freddy Freckles." Freddy Big Tits would have been more fitting.
I am a big supporter of the LGBT community, but at only seven-years-old I really struggled to portray a believable romantic interest with a girl who was four years older than me, it was simply a part I wasn't quite ready to play. I know she was supposed to be Freddy Freckles, but her hair was longer than mine for God's sake. And even though I suggested she cut it, she said "one silly performance for a YMCA preschool audience" didn't warrant such a thing. We clearly had different views on devotion to art.
This story is going nowhere. The point is the joke was on me, I should have been able to push through and see Freddie's real character and not the girl behind it. Just like last night I should have been able to push past my failure and finish my set in a professional matter, even if my best friend was calling me a loser from the back of the room.
For the most part I did finish my set, I said my jokes just not in the fashion I would have preferred. After I got done I told Chris we had to leave immediately. The heat was still penetrating my cheeks and I didn't want to look at anyone. I just needed to leave. I felt like I had missed the game winning lay-up again, against the Fremont Tigers or something equally as terrible. And if you think I'm being dramatic you are correct, I'm very dramatic about things I am passionate about.
Today Harlow woke me up earlier than usual. He slapped me with his paw right across my face and even though he couldn't say it, I knew what it meant.
It's time to get work, Tay. It's time to get to work.