Having a new job with varying shifts has thrown a monkey wrench into my standup schedule. Not that my gig frequency was exactly setting the world on fire before, almost exclusively hosting Maffia Comedy on Fridays and Saturdays. Work means cutting back even on those gigs.

Although I was available both nights this past weekend, someone else was booked to host, which is understandable; for more than two years it’s been me nearly every damn time, and I miss just doing spots. You know, being a real comic. Problem is, those rare nights I just do a spot at a club, it’s fun to dick around and try new stuff, but when a crowd pays about $40 bucks each for the show, I want to give them my best.

I could’ve gone in to do a spot on Friday but, it being my first day off in several days, I thought it was time better spent with my wife at home. I booked myself for a spot on Saturday but, as the day approached, my desire to not go increased. I even had an offer from work to go into the office for one hour Saturday night and make $40 (interesting symmetry there) and I was very tempted to take it.

In the end, I shamed myself out of the door. Didn’t take the job offer because, is my night really worth $40, even if it’s easy money? I moan about not being a real comic but, when I have the gig, I’m tempted to toss it away? There are still plenty of comics who want to gig at Maffia but can’t, so I shouldn’t take it for granted. Lastly, I’m still feeling the effects of the pandemic in that I’m entirely too happy to cancel plans and stay home. And so it was that I found myself on the 45-minute train commute for a thoroughly okay 10-min gig at Maffia and then the 45-minute train commute home.

For me, thoroughly okay is bombing.

To clarify, lest I come across as pompous (even more than just as a person who writes a weekly blog about standup), I don’t mean to say that what may count as a good gig to others is a bomb to me. Or I guess I am saying that, actually. I remember many times in my first year that I saw a veteran walk off stage after a set I would’ve killed for, shaking their head like, “Well, that sucked.”

Part of that is just how a comic’s mind works. Performing in front of a hundred people, ninety-nine pissing themselves with laughter, we’re laser-focused on the one that isn’t laughing. Go up with ten new jokes and nine kill, you walk away grumbling about the one that didn’t fly.

Mostly, though, it’s that our own standards for what is considered a good gig increase over time. Or at least they should; I could name some veterans that walk away from mediocre gigs, at best, looking like the cat that ate the canary, “Nailed another one!” Honestly, I’d rather bomb than do okay.

That being said, yes, bombing still sucks, just not as bad as in the early days. My first real, solid bomb, it was on a Thursday night and I felt like shit until Monday. It doesn’t hit the same way anymore, probably because I developed calluses on my soul. Feels more of a bummer due to time wasted. On the other hand, it could make for a fun story to tell.

Okay gigs aren’t fun to talk about. I should know, I’ve dedicated this week’s blog on the topic. The other night, some people liked me, some didn’t, so I ignored the latter and focused on the former. I tried a new joke that absolutely no one enjoyed (some jokes you can hear hit the ground like a cast-iron skillet) so I bailed on it halfway and moved on to something more reliable. I could’ve gone on longer, but figured ten minutes of an average performance was more than enough for both the crowd and myself, so I just wrapped it up. Good timing, too, as running straight out the door immediately after meant catching an earlier train home and laughing at Eurovision with my wife.

What makes it easier to deal with bombing is knowing it happens to everyone at some time or another, there’s really no way to avoid it, nothing you could’ve done to salvage it. Conversely, the worst part of an okay gig is knowing you could’ve done better. Been more engaged, more prepared, quicker on your feet. Been more likeable. Been funnier. The part of my brain that encouraged me to stay home has been gloating for the past twenty-four hours, that I put in so much effort just to feel lousy about myself. Hell, I don’t have to leave the house to feel lousy.

Well, the bad, or just okay, gigs help us appreciate the good ones. In other news, I have a fun habit- I start at a new job, tell my co-workers I do standup as a somewhat professional hobby, and then while I’m still in the probation period of employment, a bunch of them come see me and then I lose the job. This Saturday, I’ve got a gig at Laugh House and a bunch of my new co-workers are coming along and I suppose I’ll be looking for a new job this time next week.