Last night’s dream:
I am sitting in the audience of a comedy club, something I have never done in real life. It is the last night of a three-night amateur competition. They announce that a particular contestant has dropped out of the competition. The competition must’ve somehow been points-based, because they then announce that it is now mathematically impossible for me to lose.
I am surprised because I’d thunk that the competition was only two nights and that the third night was for awards. I am pleased that this other person forfeited because it meant I won. I am relieved because I hadn’t prepared a routine for tonight. I wait to be called up to the stage to receive the trophy, or medal, or cash, or whatever the prize is.
Then they announce that I’m going to come up and perform anyways.
Smiling, I panic. Can I develop a five-minute routine in the next few seconds? If I wait for the applause to finish before walking up to the stage, that’ll give me twenty to thirty seconds to think of something. If I really stretch out the walk up to the stage, I might be able to give myself another thirty seconds.
The only idea that pops into my head is a lecture about developmental psychology and sarcasm. I’ll talk about the simple, straightforward humor that very young children can appreciate, and then how kids begin to appreciate and use sarcasm, and then how they can discern appropriate times for its use. It’d be more academic than stand-up, but at least it’d be about humor.
Fortunately for me, someone who has badly– badly— overestimated her own comedic talent rises from the audience, grabs the microphone from the host and starts telling lame jokes about cooking and in-laws. The host is too polite to shut her down, and lets her enjoy telling her jokes as people barely laugh. This buys me more time, but I can’t think of anything funny or even mildly amusing to say.
The host finally gets her to give up the microphone, and the audience politely and very graciously applauds. I take a few more steps towards the stage, but then another person gets up and starts telling bad jokes. This buys me more time.
The cycle repeats. Applause and bad comedians keep interrupting the host and delaying my arrival on-stage, which is good, but I can’t think of an actual routine, which is bad. With a little luck, this’ll morph into a not-even-good-enough-to-be-an-amateur’s night, and I won’t have to say a thing aside from “Thank you.” I lean against a wall and watch them enjoy themselves.