Apparently I’m a superficial comedian. I live for laughs and applause and the occasional planned awkward silence. I don’t accept all that guff about boos and groans being the same as laughs, I think it’s largely a myth spread by mediocre comics.
I did four shows at the Velveeta Room in Austin this weekend and tried out some new material. Not brand new, just stuff I hadn?t had the balls to commit to before. I knew it was a little darker and perhaps meaner than stuff I?d been doing, it was certainly more truthful and heartfelt. I felt happier onstage than I have in a while.
The early show on Saturday night (third of the weekend) wasn?t my best. The opener did a great job and the audience seemed to get behind the guest comic, even though his material was filthy as hell. I started out ok but when I got into the stuff about my dead dad and implanting a chip in my mum?s arm to make sure she?d never get lost, I could feel the audience slipping. Rather than panic and speed through the rest of my material like I used to, I threw in an easy joke, made some self-deprecating comment and got back to my set. I still had funny things to tell them, it’s just they weren’t about getting my period or more of the whacky things the British do. Hey, you say fanny pack and we say bum bag .. hilarious. I was reminded of the audience member last year who told me after a show that my material wasn’t suitable for a ‘lady comedian’. Excellent. If only she could see me now.
As I was coming to the end of my set, reading from my book on adoption, ’100 Reasons Why We Chose You’, I started second-guessing myself again. No more than half the audience were laughing and there were some definite groans. But then right on a punchline, from the back of the room I heard someone go ?jeeesus christ?. It was in that slightly shocked, whistling through the teeth kind of way. They may not have intended the full three ‘eees’ of Jesus it could have been two or just the traditional one, I’m going purely on phonetics here. I don?t even know whether it was directed at me. The individual could have been unused to the strength of the drinks that Dana pours at the Velv. He/she could have been looking out the window at some half-dressed tart on 6th street with a bunch of hangers on and a condom veil. But I’d love to think it was for me because it was the reaction I really wanted. Still not as good as the whole audience laughing, applauding and stamping their feet, but enough to make me feel like I might finally be on the right track. Or at least to keep working on it.