Breaking My Comedy Cherry (part 3)
College pretty much sucked for me. I enrolled as a communications major with the intention of someday being on the radio. When the campus station shut down, I had no reason to be in school anymore and began partying every night of the week. That part didn’t suck. But it sucked that unless I transferred I had no hopes of getting any experience on the air before I tried my hand at professional radio.
I joined a fraternity, mainly because of the girls and free cable in every room. The Alpha zeta Chi house was to be my home for the next two years that I was enrolled in college.
Note: I said “enrolled”, not “attended.” Who needs classes when you’ve got a fridge full of beer, a drawer full of weed, a stock pile of video games, and a perpetual hangover?
Several times throughout the year, the boys all got together with their dates for a night out. This particular evening would drive the final nail in the lid of the casket that held the remains of my academic career.
The choice of entertainment was Noodles Comedy club, located inside The Spagetti Works downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Approximately 40 fraternity boys and their dates devoured salad, spagetti, and garlic bread; loaded up on wine, beer, and liquor and headed into the comedy club. It was a small club and our group dominated the audience.
The drinks continued to flow and even though we were frat boys, we were comedy fans, as well. Even the amateur comedians that went up first were given our respect and encouragement. We didn’t judge them by their obvious lack of experience, only by their attitude and material. It was a great show and about to become even more memorable.
The emcee takes the stage and announces “Our next open miker tonight has never been laid… ,”. Laughter breaks out at my table. “Let’s hear it for Jer-Dog!”. The boys go nuts, start pounding their beers on the table, chanting my name. My buddy Darrin wrote my name on the open mike list earlier that night and conveniently forgot to mention it to me. I had no choice but to go up on stage, even though I didn’t have any material whatsoever. The amatuers only got 3 minutes of stage time anyway. I could easily talk shit that long.
“First, I want to address the intro that I’ve never been laid. At least three ladies here can vouch otherwise.”
Then I told a story about one of buddies waking me up, in the middle of the night, standing at my door completely naked asking to borrow a condom.
My 3-minutes was up, the emcee signaled me, and I went back to my seat to a little over-enthusiastic applause. The club manager asked me to go back to his office. He said great job and to come back next month and work on new jokes.
I spent the next month writing and polishing 3-minutes worth of stand-up comedy. I was confident and raring to go. I went back for the next month’s open mike night and delivered my set to a very small but responsive crowd. Just about everyone of my jokes got a laugh or a groan. (A formula I still use today).
After my set, the club manager invited me back to his office again. “What the fuck was that?!”.
“What do you mean?”
“Where are all your buddies this time? Why didn’t you bring them? I didn’t invite you back because I thought you were funny.”.
Then he walked away, shaking his head. I learned some pretty big lessons about show business from that experience.
And, I was hooked. I began seeking out as much stage time as possible to build and hone my stand-up routine. I eventually got expelled from college for “my apparent lack of seriousness.”
It was the best thing that could ever happen to me.