"This will make a good story for your blog," my sister said.
Last week I went with her to The Comedy Store to watch her coworker's brother perform in a stand up comedy class's first live performance. Yeah, sounds promising.
The show isn't on the main stage (surprise, surprise), but in a back room called "The Belly Room" that apparently got its name because during the 1940s, actual belly dancers took the stage. I wish there were belly dancers tonight, I couldn't help but think.
We're seated in what I guess would be called the mezzanine level, to the side of the stage. (Stage right, maybe? I've never gotten the stage right/stage left thing.) Though we aren't necessarily THE front row, we are completely visible to the audience and performers.
We got settled and ordered drinks with the waitress. I'd been to The Comedy Store before, and there was a 2 drink minimum. This is pretty standard for comedy places, but a little ballsy to ask this of patrons for a show of way way amateur comedians. This was like a middle school band concert. The freshman players' production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The spring tap dance recital at the Palm Springs Senior Center.
You need to order 2 drinks and you need to order them upfront. Whatever. 2 whiskey sours please. And then, we wait.
Across the room from us there's this giant wall o' mirror, and so I can see my reflection and the whole row of people I'm sitting with. This will obviously distract me for the next few hours. I know I'm not alone when I say I can not be anywhere near a reflective surface without looking at myself. Have you ever been in a restaurant where you are sitting by a wall with a decorative mirror, and your dining companion has his back to the mirror, so that the whole time he is chatting you keep stealing glances of yourself and wondering if he notices? (yes, he notices) Or have you ever walked by a giant storefront window and been so interested in seeing what you look like while walking that you nearly or actually run into other pedestrians and/or trash cans and/or mailboxes and/or lamp posts?
See? Even talking about mirrors distracts me.
As I'm looking in this mirror at The Comedy Store, I notice that the person seated to my left looks a little familiar. It's hard to really make out his face because he's wearing a hat. So I very sneakily look over to my left. I turn back to front. Wow, I looked way too fast, I didnt see anything. I'm so lame. Ok, let's try this again. And, ah-ha! It's my friend's ex boyfriend. Jeesh. Well, maybe he won't notice me. It's a pretty out of context situation. And we haven't seen each other in like 2 years. He may have been drunk at every encounter and so perhaps doesn't even know I exist. Brilliant. So you can probably get out of this without saying anythi--
"Oh Hiiiiiiii" I blurt out. Good work, nerd.
"Um..." He looks from side to side.
I clear up our connection and then realize that unlike running into an old coworker or college pal, running into your friend's ex is not a desirable scenario and he is probably wondering why I am so dern excited about it. Little does he know, I am not excited, I just behave really poorly in awkward situations.
So he and I make really (really really) strained conversation for about 3 minutes. "Where are my 2 drinks?" I keep wondering. Then, thank goodness, the lights go down and the crappy show starts. I put on my glasses to see better. (I got glasses like 6 months ago after I realized I couldn't read any street signs while driving.)
The hostess of the evening is blabbing on and on for a while. "White people do this; black people do this" etc. etc. I keep thinking this would be tolerable with my drinks. It's been at least 20 minutes since we ordered them. I start thinking then about how I read this checklist of 10 Warning Signs of Alchoholism (I may have about 8 of them) and recall that one of the signs is the instant you walk into a bar or other social setting, you become preoccupied with getting a drink. Is that what I'm doing now? No, wait when I first walked in I was preoccupied with finding the bathroom. Ok, phew, I'm safe.
Finally the first comedian comes to the stage. As he begins his act, the temperature in the room goes down about 10 degrees (I'm assuming this is unrelated) so I take out my wool scarf and wrap it around my neck. I glance, of course, in the mirror on the opposite wall. With my glasses, and pulled back messy hair, I look sort of like this:
Hot, right? Well, I wasn't worried about it. After all, I'M not the one on stage. And that wasn't MY ex-boyfriend I just ran into.
Then the comedian on stage, who has been talking about the differences between Catholics (his wife) and Jews (him) for about six minutes, starts doing that bit where they pick out people in the audience and lightly make fun of them. I start to sweat, and not just because I'm engulfed in 7 feet of wool scarf. I am in the front row. I am clearly visible. I am a target.
So the comedian starts talking to a table up front and saying things that I'm pretty sure are racist, but they don't seem to be pissed. Then he turns and throws his arm up in our direction, "And then we have the librarian up here." It takes me a second to realize he means me. ME! The room turns to look at me. I'm going to vomit into my scarf. I react by frowning. Not frowning as in making a sad/displeased face, but like an actual downturn of my mouth like on a sad faced emoticon. Do people even do this?
"And where do you live?" The comedian presses on. What is this? An effing inquisition!?
"Uh, North Hollywood."
"Like. North Hollywood," he parrots back in some kind of bad teenage girl impression. He is mimicking gum smacking noises. I wasn't chewing gum. "A valley girl, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess," I say. Oh I hate him. I hate him so.
"Are you actually a librarian?" He asks. What? Is anyone actually a librarian? I should have said yes. I wanted to say something back, but all of my truthful explanations for why I looked this way sounded worse than not saying anything at all.
Option 1: I just need these glasses to see distances better.
Option 2: I don't care what I look like.
He gave up on me after that. Clearly I was no fun. I suppose I should have played along, but then again I hate the audience members who try to be comedians too.
Finally, my drinks arrived. They were probably about 1 part whiskey to 98 parts sour mix. I tried to choke them down anyway during the next TWO HOURS of bad comedy we sat through. Highlights from the assorted comedians were:
1. The man who was talking politics but kept referring to the candidates as Hillary and "Baramba." No, he wasn't kidding.
2. This joke- "I like to ride motorcycles, but I always get bugs in my teeth. You know what I'm talking about. You have to floss with Raid." Uncomfortable silence.
3. The man named Alicia who was talking about how he doesnt think babies should be aborted because they are a form of life right from the beginning, and then introduced us to his "kids" - 2 jizz rags he pulled out of his pocket.
As the night wraps up (praise the lord), the hostess is doing jokes about getting it doggy style and is acting it all out. Then she looks over at me and is like "This girl's just thinking, 'I want better things for women.'" I felt like standing and addressing the crowd. "Look, despite what you may think, I'm actually really fun! I didn't think anyone would care about what I looked like in glasses, and I got these ones with the thick rims because I wanted to look like my hero, Tina Fey." Instead, I faked a laugh.
Additionally, a creepy, jockey-sized man was staring, STARING, at my sister the entire evening. She kept pointing him out to me. He wouldn't stop. At the conclusion of the show, she wandered to go find the bathroom, and he headed straight for me.
"Where's your friend?" His breath smelled like poop. Not poopish. Not like bad breath. It just was poop.
"She's in the bathroom..." And then I shuffled my way into the exiting crowd. Of course, I end up directly next to my friend's ex boyfriend. And this was like 2 minutes after I'd already done a nice enough job of saying bye to him and looking cool. Now we were trapped in that post-goodbye epilogue you sometimes find yourselves in. "Here we are again," someone will say. And then you have to talk more. In this particular case, we talked about how he'd moved to Santa Monica, and then just sort of ambled off in different directions as the crowd shifted.
My sister finds me and tells me that ol' poopbreath found her too and that she told him that he was creepy for looking at her the whole time.
Then I see one of the comedians, this guy who played a guitar and talked about having sex with his mom or something. And he says to me: "nice glasses." I realize he is wearing ones sort of like mine. Outstanding.
And then, to cap off a glorious evening, I come face to face with the comedian who called me a librarian.
"Thanks for being a good sport," he says.