The Art of Bombing

Life is such that you will not always have the best experience possible.  That is with everything.  Great Baseball players fail seven times out of ten.  Comedy is no different.  A joke can be funny, but for whatever reasons it will not work 100% of the time.  When almost all of your jokes are not working, they call that bombing.  And bombing is one of the most horrible feelings in the world, but also a learning process and an art form in itself.

No one that describes themselves as a comic actually goes on stage saying they are going to do bad.  There would be no point in going up. You can’t predict it, but you know when it is happening.  Sometimes its because the comic before made the crowd angry.  Sometimes, its because they didn’t like that joke about Polish people.  Sometimes its because they don’t like your face, it doesn’t really matter at that point, you just have to recognize that you are bombing and there are only so many things you can do to save yourself anymore embarrassment.

One thing I see comics do that I always think is in bad taste is complain that the crowd isn’t getting the joke.  That smacks of elitism.  That because you call yourself a comedian you know what should be laughed at.  If they are not laughing, it is because they do not think that joke is funny.  Another thing a bombing comic will do is start to get angry with the crowd, which is understandable.  It’s like if someone didn’t enjoy a poem you wrote.  Jokes are (usually) your creation and because you created them you feel for them.  The thing is you can love your material, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has too.  It’s like other people’s kids.  You like your own, you hate other people’s little bratty bastards.  One of the most poisonous things I have seen a comic do is when they are bombing bad, is that they will stay on longer.  Please don’t do that.  Especially if you have others that are going up after you.  See comics do this because we feel as though we can pull ourselves from out of the dump back into the glory of the audience.  It can work sometimes.  A lot of the times you are just up there drowning and instead of swimming to the lifeboat you decide to punch the sharks some more.  If you are bombing and you have tried corrective measures and it still isn’t helping just call it a night.  There is nothing wrong with admitting defeat.  The comic that has to go on after you will thank you.

Now, when I am doing bad and I need to get back in the audiences good graces I follow an emergency checklist in my head.  This works for me.  I don’t know if it will work for anyone else, but you are free to try them.  If the crowd wasn’t feeling the previous comic I go up and try a crowd warming joke.  I call them crowd warming jokes, because they are just light jokes to kind of set the mood for the rest of my act.  If that doesn’t get a response I go into a joke that I know works more than it doesn’t.  I go “off the script” as some would say and not do my jokes in the order that I had planned.  If I have been doing good and I feel the air leaving the room (where the audience has stopped laughing at my stuff), I will just stop with that topic of joke.  Sometimes a crowd doesn’t want to hear anymore about Bigfoot.   I just move on to whatever else I was going to do, if I have time.  If not I just call it good and depart.  If you have switched from topic to topic and they have not responded, then you can go to the ole comic stand by stuff.  If they are rowdy then pull out some dick jokes.  If you don’t have anything find you raunchiest material and start throwing it at them.  If you don’t have any and that is the type of crowd you have then you can do crowd work, but since I don’t really do that I can’t tell you how to do that with confidence.  If all that fails then just say good night and get ready to get them the next time.  That is the beauty of comedy.  There will be a next time with another crowd.  So stick with it.

Got a part in a television show that is filming in Spokane.  I play a slacker, and although my girl thinks I am a natural, I don’t really know what that means.  There is the stereotypical slacker that is sleeping in his mom’s basement and eating junk food all day and playing video games and not taking showers. I know a lot of comics and a lot of them are slackers, but I don’t know how to put that into action.  They just don’t go after stuff.  It films the first three days of this week so I may miss my kid’s talent contest which is something I do not what to do, but this is the business I signed up for.  I think she understands.  I hope she understands.


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