That’s right, I was kicked off an island by lesbians. It wasn’t just lesbians, it was an entire collegiate LGBTQ organization. You may be wondering, “Why would such a loving group of diverse, independent, and forward-thinking students want me thrown off an island?” The answer is simple: I offended them.
It was senior week at a New England university that will remain nameless. My comedian friend Hamilton brought me along as his opening act to entertain the college crowd. The school was wealthy and therefore they rented a small island for a day of activities, festivities, and overall collegiate jubilance. That’s right. An entire Island, bitches!
I felt like a total boss when I was shipped over with the other talent in a small boat. There were two comedians, a couple bands, an x-rated hypnotist and others. The boat was filled with broke artists looking to receive the table scraps from the higher class. I was the only performer under age thirty in that boat and I was amped to perform and then party with young beautiful college girls. The college I had attended was a cheap one. Senior week was just some free coffee and pastries. This was an entire god damn island of fun, games, and ladies and I was excited.
Let me just say that at the time of this event I was a new comedian with little experience. My act was terrible and juvenile and I did it all with a guitar. It consisted of songs about getting laid, having threesomes, smoking weed and converting lesbians. My best song was a parody of U2’s Beautiful Day — called, Soup of the Day. That’s how bad my act was. I was young, stupid and narrow-minded and, although I cringe to think about it now, those subjects were what I found funny at that age.
My friend Hamilton brought me because he thought, with guitar, I’d be perfect to entertain a college crowd. I thought it was a good choice, naturally. And as legend had it, Adam Sandler, with guitar, was the most popular college act for years. So me and that guitar and the boat. I was gonna rock it. I was gonna make friends and even fans. I was gonna get laid.
I imagined in my mind that I would get a standing ovation after my set. A hot 21 year old psych major would come backstage and hand me a red solo cup, take my hand and lead me to the keg. At the keg would be a half naked goddess dispensing cheap light spirits to one and all with a kiss. Then she’d take me to the Ecstasy Tent where she’d transfer a pill from her mouth to mine and then we’d dance to some awful mid 2000’s EDM all night.
Tent? Yea I said, ‘tent’. There were tents everywhere on this island. The Buffet Tent, Smoothie Tent, Beerpong Tent, Foam Party Tent, Live Music Tent, X-rated Hypnotist Tent, Napping Tent. Yes, a napping tent because college kids need naps. Talk about Heaven, and I was already trying to come up with a plan to stay on this island all weekend.
We were in the Comedy Tent because we were professional comedians. I peeked out of the greenroom and saw row upon row of young women that I was about to blow away with my funny songs. A supremely cute undergrad named Jade asked me if there was anything in particular I needed for my performance.
“Can you hook my guitar cable up to the PA?”
“Guitar? Nice, I play a little bit.”, she shared.
“Oh yes, I heard about you.” I joked.
“Yea, there’s a local legend about a pretty girl that lives on an island and plays music for passing ships. All sailors that hear her voice become so hypnotized that they crash their boats into the nearby rocks.”
Jade laughed, “I think you’re thinking about the Sirens.”
“That’s right! Homer!” I burst a smile and flattered her. “Artistic, beautiful and well-read? Is there a wedding tent cuz I think I found my soul mate?” We both laughed, she blushed and left with my cable.
Hamilton went out and intro’d the show, then he introduced the first act — me. I walked out with guitar in hand and the shit hit the fan, as they say.
The first boo’s came. It was fairly general booing and mostly from the first few rows. But it went from general booing to specific phrases like, ‘Get em off!” “No more!” And this was not the feeling I was expecting, this was something I’d feared all my career. Getting boo’d by a couple hundred people. Or was it more? Was it the entire island itself booing me? That’s what it felt like. Why?
It was the Lesbian Song that set them off. This was an original song I’d written about converting a lesbian, meaning making a lesbian girl straight again with my charm and singing skills. This song was one of my better pieces at the time and it always did well at the bars in the Boston area. In fact, I’d never really had a bad reaction to any of my songs. Ever. Until this moment.
Members of the audience started to stand up and yell. They pointed. I panicked. Was this really happening? Were two hundred college students, mostly women, hissing me? Maybe it was somebody behind me I thought. I looked. It was just me. Hamilton was already stage left motioning for me to wrap it up. I didn’t need to be told twice, I cut that song short. Normally cutting a song in mid-verse would be uncomfortable, but not in this instance. They didn’t care how I did it as long as my words ceased coming at their ears through a loudspeaker.
I practically ran into the greenroom while Hamilton took the mic and brought the show under control like the veteran and professional he is. I was relieved to be out of there. This must’ve been what it’s like to retreat from the frontlines of a battlefield back to safety. And I can use this war analogy because those lovely kids really wanted my head.
I watched in crushed silence as Hamilton saved the day. He brought the house down, they loved him and they seemed to have forgotten about the displeasing guitar comic that had opened the show. This was a relief because if he didn’t please them I imagined both of us being boiled in oil.
When a comedian bombs that badly you start to question your career choice. What the hell was I doing with my life anyway? Trying to get laughs with songs about soup? Ugh, what a waste of time this has all been. I should just hang it up. I should get a regular nine to five with all that steady income like my friends seemed to be enjoying. Shit.
Hamilton rushed into the tent. He had that look as if to say, “That was a close one.” My mood was obvious and he tried to make me feel better. “Sorry dude, I should’ve told you that the LGBTQ group was in charge of this event, they actually hired us. I didn’t even think about it, though. And I totally forgot that you do that Lesbian Song. I’m really sorry.” I reassured him that this wasn’t his fault by any means and can we just go the beer tent so I can drink myself into forgetfulness?
The event coordinator entered. She was obviously gay and so angry with me that she wouldn’t make eye contact. She even referred to me in the third person. To Hamilton, “Here’s both of your checks. Hamilton, you can stay for the other events if you want but he has to leave the island.”
“You mean he’s…”
“Yea. We don’t want him here so he’s gotta go.”
“Can he get something to eat first-”
“Immediately. He’s gotta leave. There’s a boat waiting for him at the dock.”
You could’ve cut the tension with a sharp thing. They were offended I sang and I was offended she referred to me in the third person while I was in the same room. I appreciated Hamilton’s going to bat for me but, all in all, they were right to throw me off the island. I would’ve done the same.
Jade came into the greenroom with my guitar cable. I could tell she was embarrassed for me. But being that she seemed to not be a lesbian, I thought I’d still ask for her number. And of course I’d been given some fake numbers before but this was the first time a woman actually flatly said, “I’m sorry. No.”
My walk back to the boat was awful. It wasn’t a walk of shame because I blended into obscurity on that crowded island. It was awful because I passed all the free tent-fun I was about to miss out on. Defiantly, I thought, this island is big enough for lesbians and young men that write hurtful lesbian music. Why couldn’t I just stay on the far side and play beerpong with some PBR slinging ladies? Just let me stay! PLEASE!?
On the boat I looked at my check. Four hundred dollars. What a strange business. I was paid $50 a minute to insult 200 people. I laughed to myself. The driver thought I was nuts. I was nuts. You have to be nuts to go through that kind of experience….. and KEEP DOING IT.
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