Recently I did a late show where things quickly went off the rails. It all started when the crowd was not responding to my opener (aka feature comedian) who lost them with some off-color jokes and just could not get them back. The feature comedian did not read the room and, perhaps because of nerves or lack of experience, leaned into dirtier jokes. The crowd was not having any of it. As a feature, you typically should not do crowd work, but even when the set went that direction, there was no success. They became rowdy and multiple hecklers successfully derailed the show. It was my turn as the headliner.
As soon as the host brought me up, I know I had a few seconds to regain their trust. I presented myself as a very confident comedian, channelling my best "Bernie-Mac" impression to show them I was not afraid of them. The crowd was not responsive to my first joke, and it became almost a Q + A so I did some crowd work to appease them.
Then, when the alpha heckler (who beat up my opener) tried to be funny with a disrespectful comment about the prior comedian, I took him down. It felt like when they tell you to punch the biggest guy when you get to jail. It worked. I regained their trust but still had to deal with a crowd that was expecting interaction. I was expecting to do an hour of my upcoming album recording I am working on, but instead, I had to do crowd work and a little babysitting. It actually ended up being fun and I did a longer set than I was supposed to because I was able to stay in the moment. The silver lining is that I had fun and I probably got some funny clips from the night. You can't plan that sh*t.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. On that stage, I am prepared for anything.
#formerlawyer #standupcomedy #tbt #careerchange
Paul Farahvar is a comedian hailing from Chicago, Ill.
Paul Farahvar Comedy