Stand-up: Starting out, take whatever gig is offered- but don’t be surprised if it gets weird.

Last August I got an hour spot on a side stage of a 4500 person music festival. Naturally, I was really excited about the prospect of that much exposure. I practiced my set over and over and over, hoping to parley a good set into future work opportunities.

About 75 or so showed up for my set- not bad considering the majority of the people there were high and listening to EDM. I started off with a little crowd work, swapping festival stories and such. After about ten minutes I started using the routine I’d written and practiced. Of the 75 in the crowd, 74 were paying attention while a woman in the front row starts trying to strike up conversation with the woman next to her.

I calmly but firmly asked her to either stop talking during the show or to take it elsewhere, and that I didn’t really care which. She bursts into tears and starts apologizing over and over out of the blue. I’m almost certain she was on a heroic dose of lsd. Having no goddamn clue how to handle that mess, I just walked over and gave her a hug, and in a bit she calmed down. I got the weirdest round of applause for it.

Not everyone who talks during a set is a heckler, so I’ve found easing my way to the insults and joke-traps to be the safer move. Plus, you might get cheered on for exhibiting basic human dignity.

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