Second Show Friday

Friday June 1st, 2012 – Chicago, IL

   For those unaware – and apparently there are more than I thought – the one constant dread for a comedian is the late show on Friday. Is there a particular Friday of which I speak? No – it’s all of them. That’s the big hump to get over for every week of work, and everyone has to deal with it.

When Steve Martin was asked why he didn’t do standup comedy anymore, he simply answered “Second show Friday.” It’s a bitch, and like income taxes or aging there’s no going around it. It’s a part of life, and all the complaining in the world isn’t going to change it. I’ve learned to like it.

What could there possibly be to like? For me, it’s a personal challenge. I know it’s coming, and I’ve dealt with it head on for so long there isn’t much that surprises me anymore. Once in a while something catches me off guard, but that’s rare anymore. I get in combat mindset, and handle it.

People ask why that particular show is so consistently difficult. The answer is pretty logical for the most part. The people who attend as a whole have often been working a long brutal week at a job they can’t stand, and have been out to dinner and frequently are three sheets to the wind with a few cocktails already in them. Their frustrations rise to the surface and their inhibitions fade.

That can be a dangerous combination, and the vibe can often be nasty. Frustration plus alcohol is not a formula for sunny and happy results, and more often than not it’s a steep uphill climb for a comedian to entertain a room full of people in such a condition – especially for the headliner.

Anyone who thinks they are a show closer needs to have a few of these under the belt to prove they can handle themselves in such conditions. It’s nothing short of trench warfare, and anything can happen at any time. People yell things out of context, get up to use the bathroom at the worst times, check their emails, blow their nose, make out with their date and that’s only naming a few.

I used to get angry and frustrated myself trying to deal with it, but that’s not the smart solution. It isn’t my fault this happens; it’s just a result of circumstances beyond my control. Getting upset at anyone or anything won’t change it, so why try? I have enough experience to plow through it.

Do I like dealing with drunks? Absolutely not. I never have, and my tolerance is lower than it’s ever been. But on the late show Friday it’s to be expected, so I’m a lot more ready to deal with it. It requires a different approach, especially for my act. Mainly, I have to slow it way WAY down.

Tonight was a typical example of a late show Friday crowd. There was a stripper looking chick sitting in the very front with huge fake boobs and a short skirt who’d had too much to drink. She has grown used to being the center of attention, and has to yell out gibberish just to get noticed.

She’d done it through the whole show, and when I got up there it was time for it to stop. I knew I’d have to smack her down pretty good, and I did. She tried to come back, but I nailed her again. It’s very delicate, because the rest of the audience can’t hear what she said. I’ve seen this before. The rest of the show went pretty well actually. I launched into my Greyhound bus bit knowing it was a story and would keep their attention for a while, which it did. I stretched it out longer than usual, and it worked perfectly. I closed out strong and did my time. I earned my full pay tonight.


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