Quick Question…What Was Your First Time On Stage?
I popped a question to a bunch of my comedian friends. What was your first time on stage? We’ll start with mine. Mine was Club Bart in Ferndale, Michigan at an open mic show on February 6th, 2003. My comedy class graduation show was on the 18th at Joey’s Comedy Club in Livonia and I was so sick with the flu that I puked repeatedly on the way there and immediately after.
Steve Sabo: My first time on stage was pretty awesome. University of Miami, Florida… The Certs College Comedy Competition. I remember being scared to death… they called my name, and the time between when they called my name and I touched the microphone was an eternity. The next 4 1/2 minutes are gone from my memory, they went so fast… I just remember getting off the stage with the biggest rush I have ever had. And needing that rush again. 20 years later, I am still chasing that dragon.
Marty Smith: My first time on a comedy stage was at Mark Ridley’s open mic, I think in 1999. I believe we all had seven minutes. I have no specific memory of anything that happened that night but I got pretty nervous as it got close to hearing my name. I got a few laughs and felt OK enough to continue, but I learned it wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. By the way, I’ve never stepped on a stage as an actor or comic that I didn’t get nervous. Every time is an adventure. Next time I go up, same thing.
Jeff Dwoskin: On Feb 27, 2002 I took the stage at Ridley’s. Rob Little was the MC. I wanted one time on stage before my graduation class. I rocked. I couldn’t believe it was working. At 7 min, while getting the light, I asked the audience if they wanted me to keep going. Rob dragged me off the stage at 9 min. Backstage Daylin Cemer explained to me why you must keep to your time. I’ve never gone over since (on purpose).
David Beck: I don’t remember the exact date, but I do know it was 1989 without any idea of what I was doing. It was a dare from my friends at work. I gave myself three months to write some material, and then went to the Richmond Comedy Club, in Richmond, VA with the friends that dared me. They wouldn’t even let me in the club at first, then three of the local comedians said I was with them, and took me in. I got on stage, my legs were shaking so bad, one of the locals said I looked like Elvis. It surprisingly went well, even though I think it was out of sympathy for the sheer look of terror that was on my face. It scared me so bad, I didn’t go back for months.
Steve Lind: My first show was Nov 6th at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak. It was my comedy class graduation night. I followed a woman who had refused to practice her stuff in front of the class the previous 6 weeks. She had had no help in writing her bits, nor had gone on stage to practice. She filled her entire 7 minutes with a continuous stream of vulgarities interrupted on occasion with a non-funny story that must have killed while with her friends at closing time at Tequila Bob’s all-you-can-drink buffet. My stuff wasn’t great, but since I didn’t mention the f-word or the c-word the crowd seemed pleased with my routine. Of note, Jeff Ford was in the same class and he was stellar that night! People that have only seen me at that first show always ask if he’s still doing comedy. Does anyone know?
Sal Demilio: It was 1997 in October, i graduated from Mark Ridleys Comedy Class. I had to do 5 minutes in front of family / friends. The castle was packed, i was so nervous. I did very well. My first set went well. I did not have a good set for 6 months after that, but i was hooked because of that first set.
Dave Landau: The first time I went on stage I was about 7. My Uncle Vincent Vinchenzo was a gambling addict and he had kidnapped me. He snuck me across the Mexican border where he planned to hide us until my father paid the ransom. My Dad liked money a lot more than me so when he found out he told Uncle Vinnie, “Keep him, he still craps his pants anyways and people who can’t control their bowels in second grade are born losers.” One night in Tijuana Uncle Vinnie lost $4,000 to mexican mafioso’s in a back alley craps game and didn’t have the cash to pay it back. To clear his debt he sold the gangsters his nephew, me. My first task for them was actually my first time on stage. A rifle was put to my head and I was brought onto a stage in a seedy bar to perform fellatio on a donkey. This was known as a “donkey show.” (I guess my first time on stage was actually when I was 8, not 7, because coincidentally this took place on my 8th birthday) After about four minutes into sucking the donkeys cock I realized that the donkey looked weird. Why this wasn’t a donkey at all but a donkey costume! Just then the donkey ripped it’s mask off and it was my Uncle Vinnie in disguise to save me! He grabbed me, threw me over his shoulder and we ran out as guns blazed. We ran and ran and ran until we safely made it over the border and back into the USA. Uncle Vinnie returned me to my parents because he felt really terrible about what had happened. My father immediately had him arrested and he was sentenced to 27 years for kidnapping. Poor Uncle Vin. So that was my first time on stage I guess, sucking my uncles dick for 4 minutes whom I thought was actually an animal on my birthday. Oh Yeah, like Jeffery Dahmer my uncle Vincent got fucked to death with a broomstick while in prison.
Bob Phillips: My first time on stage was in 2004, at an open mic at Joey’s. I remember thinking that everyone was much funnier than me, and I was going to look weird doing comedy in a suit. I think I was last or near last in the lineup, so I got to stew on those worries and chain smoke for a good hour and a half before my turn at the mic. It seemed when I was writing them that my jokes were funny enough, clever, etc. But as my turn neared, it struck me that everything I had written was shit. There wasn’t a single funny thing in those notes. Too late to back out, I waited my turn and took the stage with a whole bunch of false confidence. Back then I was doing a lot of political stuff, and I knew I was going to piss off at least half the crowd. And I did. But I was unprepared for some of the angry reactions I got. I never anticipated that the crowd might talk back to me. When they did, I ignored them and kept plowing through my material. It wasn’t an act of bravado, or even a thought-out strategy. It was just that I was a rank amateur and had no idea what else to do. If I was going to bomb, those bastards would never know I cared. I was equally unprepared for the laughs I got. In the run-up to the open mic I never once thought about how to handle laughter. In my amateur, myopic comic mind I was concerned only with finishing my set, and getting all seven minutes of jokes in. So when the crowd laughed loud and long at one of my jokes, I was completely thrown. I stepped all over the moment. What the hell was wrong with these people? Didn’t they know I still had to get through another five jokes? Quit with the laughing already. I think I actually got irritated with them, and launched into another joke, then another, and it was over. First times on stage are very similar to first time sexual experiences. You’re scared, awkward, and, in my case, alone and being stared at by a couple dozen strangers.
Germaine Gerbhard: My first time on stage doing standup was February 18, 2003. It was comedy class graduation night at Joey’s Comedy Club, a class taught by Bill Bushart. I had wanted to try standup forever but was too shy. Then as a 40 year old wife and mom I finally got up the nerve to try it when I realized comedy clubs don’t allow kids. I had been raised that it was wrong for women to do things to draw attention to themselves and I was ready to break this taboo. I figured the worst that could happen was people would throw rotten tomatoes at me, or perhaps there might be gunfire. Instead they laughed, a lot. I was glad my classmate Mike Bobbitt had the flu because that meant I got to close the show instead of him. Actually I was concerned for his health AND glad I got to close the show.
Be sure to check out Germaine being all ages TV clean at Joey’s on Monday April 11 for Joey’s 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour being filmed for Bright House Cable and again at Joey’s on Monday April 18 for an all woman comedy show. Please click on my friends’ names and check them out when they’re doing it near you!