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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Brent Weinbach Writes Waaay Better Jokes than Charlie Sheen Doesn't

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 2:00 PM

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Nobody knows exactly what was going through Charlie Sheen's mind Saturday night after he bombed horribly and ugly-ly in Detroit. Nobody knows exactly how that felt to him ... except for every stand-up comic on the planet.

We stand-ups have all been through that experience of bombing horribly and then having to wait impatiently for the next show. You can't get the taste of bombing out of your mouth until you kill again, but a little bit you may feel like you'll never kill again. And maybe you've never killed before.Yup, stand-up comics have been through that more times than we care to remember.* You get booked for a show. You get excited for that show. You feel strong and good. And then you step out onstage and everything goes tits up.** The next day you walk around in a daze. Not really taking anything in. Many thousands of dollars have been wasted on movies "watched" by comics the day after bombing. The lights flicker and the sounds play but nothing goes into your brain. All you can think is, "How did that happen?" and "What could I have done differently?" And my personal favorite, "Whose idea was this???" The "this" being whatever is pissing you off most at the time, but for me the "this" is usually the idea of getting into show business in the first place.

Those hours between the shows unquestionably prove that Einstein was correct in his theory that time is relative. That time between shows is slower than the time it takes to wait for your Mac to stop going all spinning beach ball on you. It is slower than that person in front of you at the BART*** station who is seemingly trying to use the ticket machine to buy a pack of gum. It is slower than the time that you were starved and saw that the bar had a happy hour special on mozzarella sticks during the middle of the Final Four AND EVERYBODY ELSE SEEMED TO BE GETTING THEIR MOZZARELLA STICKS BEFORE YOU. EVEN THOSE PEOPLE WHO CAME IN WAAAAAAAY AFTER YOU.

That time between shows is a beast! It is probably still a beast even if you are Charlie Sheen and have the salve of goddesses and a private plane filled with sycophants.****

But I don't actually blame Charlie Sheen for bombing. He is not a live performer. (No, those weird Ustream clips don't count.) I blame the people of Detroit (and beyond) who paid good money to see a show that they had no reasonable expectation of being anything other than a disaster. The idea that all you need to hold a crowd for over an hour is catch phrases and attitude is disrespectful to the art of stand-up comedy. Even Larry The Cable Guy has jokes. In actuality the only newsworthy story worth reporting would have been if Sheen was great that night. You would think that Detroit, a city with 19% unemployment, would want to try harder to hold on to its money.

Although in defense of Detroit, Charlie Sheen also violated the first rule of show business: Never open your tour in Detroit. You build up to Detroit.****** You work out the kinks before you get there, because Detroit may not go that well for you even weeks into the tour when you are a well-oiled machine, or MaSheen, as the case may be.

And while we're on the subject of comics and bombing, I'd like to say a big fuck you to the members of the media who reviewed Sheen's Detroit show and gave a bad review to Kirk Fox, the comic who opened the debacle. I don't know Kirk, but I do know that it's not his fault he couldn't get through to the audience. Those people clearly showed up for (tiger) blood, and Kirk was in their way. No comic is funny enough to open a cockfight.

But in the meantime in order to get the taste of Shenius out of your mouth watch these clips of two formerly Bay Area based comics (Brent Weinbach & Mo Mandel) who each had a big show (on Lopez Tonight and Conan) last week and both came prepared and both did excellently. And then sometime we'll talk about how to not think that just because you had a big show that your ship has come in.*******

* I once read an interview with Sinbad where he said he had never bombed. I think he's lying and/or also not trying hard enough.

** I'm currently on a plane to the UK to perform so I'm trying out my British slang. "Tits up" means bad, right?

*** Not from the Bay? BART = Subway or El or Tube.

**** And who are we kidding? Also lots of drugs and alcohol.

***** I've actually performed at the same theater in Detroit. I was opening for Dave Chappelle. We did two shows. The second one was not so good, but nobody got booed offstage.

****** Oh your ship always comes in, just sometimes it's a dinghy.

"Kamau's Komedy Korner" is a weekly blog column about San Francisco comedy from stand-up comic W. Kamau Bell. Check back next Wednesday for more. And catch Kamau live at The Berkeley Marsh on April 30.

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W. Kamau Bell

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