Let me tell you about last night.
I walked into the bar I was doing stand-up at around 8:00 p.m. The list wasn't supposed to go out until around 9:00 so I figured I was early enough. I was wrong. The entire back area of Merkles was packed, there was about twenty-five other guys already sitting there waiting to put their name on the list.
And here's the thing about the comedy scene in Chicago (at least from my point of view) everyone knows everyone. Unless you're me, nobody really knows me. So every time I walk into a comedy night and see the big group of guys all sitting together shooting the shit just being bros, a little part of me always feels like the creepy new kid at school. I do that terrible "I'm looking around the room pretending to see if the fake person I'm meeting is here, but oh shoot they're not because they're fake" look around the room for a minute or two feeling like a real ass hat. But then a bigger part of me reminds me to stop being such a pansy and just order a beer. It's just those first three minutes of walking in somewhere alone that are always the worst. Thank God for iphones.
But luckily last night I didn't have to pretend to play on my phone all by my lonesome for too long because eventually I had some female reinforcement thanks to my pals Alison, Megan and Emily for coming out to watch. I can't wait to watch them next!
Anyway, the thing I like about Merkles is that you get a chance to see some of the best up and coming comics around Chicago. I saw a lot of guys there last night that I recognized from other venues around Chicago where they host their own gigs, which is something every newbie aspires to do. I think anyway, all this stuff is so foreign to me. But it's time I learn, I'm tired of being on the outside.
I usually practice my set quite a few times before going on stage and make sure I have my routine down. But for some reason last night I wanted to wing it a bit. I've got a list of jokes/things I like to talk about it in my head, but I wasn't sure the order or how I was going to say it for sure. I figured I'd let the crowd dictate what was and wasn't working. Turns out I'm not quite ready to wing it yet.
I didn't forget what I was saying when I got up there, but I did blackout just a wee bit. And when I say "blackout" I don't mean I just stand up there with a blank face not speaking, it's more like I go into autopilot and I'm just up there talking and moving but I don't quite know what's going on and I can't tell if people are laughing at me because they think I'm funny or because they feel bad for me. It's a pretty weird feeling, but it's pretty great too. If you've ever been tempted to try stand-up before, and I know there's a lot of you out there who have been, you just gotta do it. At least once in your life, you owe it to yourself.
Long story short, when the host came to find me at the end of the night to tell me I should stay close because they were announcing the finalists I thought he was joking. And when he called me on stage with two other comedians who are well known on the scene for being really good I still thought he was joking. In fact I think I looked to the ceiling for the bucket of pigs blood that was about to be dropped on my head. When the three of us finalists had to answer questions from the crowd the only thing I could muster was "I'm just so thrilled to be up here is all," and that was the truth. It's still the truth.
In all honesty I'm probably the only person who cared that I was a "finalist" last night. It's really not a big deal to any of the other comedians there because they're all really good, doing cool stuff all of the time and the contest at Merkles is more or less a big joke. But screw it. I'm letting myself be excited, whether it was a big old joke or not. I was a finalist in my first comedy contest, I'm going to ride that one out all week.
So take that old Talent Lady McGee, 2014 is the year of Wolfe.