Standup and booze- among other substances, legal or otherwise- go together like chocolate and peanut butter, yet I haven’t seen that many stage mishaps. I know two comics who threw up in the middle of their sets, but fortunately I wasn’t present during those nights. I’ve heard a stage groan under the weight of a Swedish comic you’d be forgiven for thinking is American, but the stage didn’t collapse.

I was once asked to help a wheelchair-bound Swedish comic up three steps to a stage and I was glad to help. Except I misjudged my foot placement on the way up and his chair crushed my leg, fixing us both in place until other people ran over to help us both. He never asked me for help again. Or offered me any gigs. I suspect there’s an ironic joke to be made about my leg being crushed by a wheelchair but I can’t find it.

The stage at Maffia Comedy is a platform about a foot or 200 or 2000 or 2 cm (I don’t understand the Metric system) off the ground. I’m usually there two nights a week and I’m usually hosting, which means I step on and off that stage much more often than anyone. I figured it was only a matter of time before I tripped.

A few weeks ago, a comic had concluded his set and, since I was hosting, I retook the stage to introduce the next act. We shook hands, badly, as he stepped off and I stepped on. Even before covid, I was terrible at judging how to shake hands with someone. I’d go in with a regular handshake, they’d offer a cool one, or the other way around. Nowadays there are even more variables. It’s common I offer a fist bump, they have their hand extended for a regular handshake, so they close into a fist, except now I’ve opened my hand and end up grabbing their fist.

This time, at least, we’d both gone in for a regular handshake, but didn’t connect very well. I was thinking that it felt like shaking a wet noodle and not about my foot being kinda but not really on the stage. As I put all my weight on the leg to step up, my foot slipped off and I went, shin-first, into the edge of the metal stage. As my momentum kept me moving forward, time slowed to a crawl and I heard the crowd gasp as I found nothing to break my fall.

I’m not sure how exactly it happened, but I ended up flat on my back behind the stage. I paused for a heartbeat and chuckled to myself. I knew I’d fall one day. I climbed up on stage- I want to say the comic helped me up, but I honestly don’t remember- and the whole crowd was leaning forward with genuine concern on their faces. It was actually pretty sweet of them. Feeling like George Bailey’s drunk uncle in It’s a Wonderful Life, I announced, “It’s okay, I’m all-right.” (By the way, I should mention I’d had one beer. I can’t blame booze, just my own clumsiness.)

I limped to the back of the room after introducing the next act. My leg would be sore for a few days more and, since there’s a spot on my shin that’s still tender to the touch, I’m pretty sure I cracked the damn thing. The concern for a fellow human being I got from the crowd gave me a warm feeling. I was also reminded of a difference between crowds and comics when, as I reached the other comics at the back of the room, one of them called me Joe Biden.