Not all comedy shows are created equal. There are rooms of all sizes, audiences of varying attention spans, and other varying variables. On Wednesday I had the chance to open for a Las Vegas-based comedian/magician named Adam London, and it was one of those shows where most if not all of the variables were ideal for comedy.
My wife and I arrived at the venue at 6:30pm. I told someone at the front door that I was the opening act, and they gave me a funny look. Luckily right at that moment someone came out and said “oh good, Lam, you’re here,” and took us inside. It was a nice theater with a balcony, seating about 600 people. Adam was on the stage and introduced himself, nice guy. One thing that I’ve heard a lot (and I believe to be true) is that you shouldn’t pester the headliner. I always try to see what type of person they are before engaging in a lengthy conversation. There are plenty of people who (understandably) don’t want to talk to everyone before their show; they may be preparing, getting in their “zone”, or whatever. Adam seemed very laid back and kind, not at all in his own world.
A friend of mine was opening as well. We had each planned to do a certain amount of time, but were asked to shorten it. Not a problem. Another thing that I’ve learned is that you have to roll with the punches. Being easy to work with is almost as important as being funny. That may not be how it should be (some people feel that being funny is all that matters), but I think I’m pretty easy going anyway so changing things up last minute is never a big deal to me.
Fast forward to the beginning of the show. The theater was packed. My friend did his set, and did well as he always does. Then I did my set, and was later told both by Adam and many audience members that it was great. I’ve read a lot of articles that say when you are hosting/opening/featuring that you should hold back a little; you shouldn’t come out and try to “knock the headliner’s head off.” In other words; do well, but don’t do so well that the headliner has to compete with you. I can see the truth in this, but also, you never know who is watching.
Regardless, I kept that rule in mind. I feel like all of my bits were hitting with the audience, as they should since I was avoiding new material. However, the bit that I decided to close with didn’t end with an applause break as it normally does. The reaction was great, but not what I’m used to. It was sufficient though, so I ended my set and left the stage. Normally in that situation I would have kept going in an attempt to end on a slightly higher note, but I wanted to be mindful of the time that I was given. Earlier today I watched the video of my set from that night, and I’m fine with how it went.
Adam’s show was great. He started off with stand up and then did magic with tons of audience interaction. I haven’t seen tons of magic, and there were several tricks that I was impressed with. For one of his tricks he made my wife’s wedding ring go into a bag of M&Ms. Crazy stuff.
Everyone has to pay their dues, especially in the entertainment industry. Every time that I’m fortunate enough to do a show like this it reminds me that it is where I want to be. I love performing for crowds of 30-50 too, it is relaxed and I can work on new material. Even if I’m blessed to someday perform in theaters on a regular basis I’d still want to continue to do smaller shows. Bottom line is that its great to work with people who have what I want, to get to know them, to watch them work, and to show what I can do in those circumstances.