This email contains a blog on what you do when you bomb at the office. + upcoming 2 Day Writing Intensive +dates for my show Suddenly.
As a professional speaker and comic I have bombed many days. And many nights.
One of the worst gigs that happened was in small town Ontario where I got hired to perform for a Christmas party. And on top of that it was my wedding anniversary. Thank goodness, my husband came along with me, because as you will soon learn this was going to be a long night.
When I arrived half of the folks sat at their tables slack jawed, staring straight ahead like they were about to be taken to the electric chair.
The other half were outside smoking already so drunk they could barely stand. An open bar is never a performer’s friend. It was 5:30 pm and I went on at 9pm.
The event planner handed me the cheque and said,”You need to do a full hour. The other comic ripped us last year by doing only 45 minutes.”
( Rule of thumb: Always get the cheque before you perform is my rule because if you stink its hard to ask for it after.)
“Oh, I can do an hour.” I said clutching the cheque. Why is my mouth moving?
“Do you want to go on before or after the service awards?” She asked.
“After.” (Never go on after the awards.)
The sit down dinner had slow service and the awards took forever. The drunks who were still conscious were getting cranky.
Some of the winners wouldn’t even go to the front of the room to pick up their prizes, like leather jackets. They heard their names and were hollering to their bosses, “Screw you.”
Finally, around 9:15 I was introduced and as I took the stage.I said to my husband,
” Have the car running out front. …..we are going to need to get out of Dodge.”
I went to the front of the room and realized I was standing in the dark. Why was this not obvious to me before hand? The only light was a spot light over the tech guy’s table and he was squinting.
The mic didn’t work. We had tested it but now it was fading in and out. Even it didn’t want to work.
Normally, I would have asked if I could turn on the hall lights but I was not sure I wanted to see them anymore than they wanted to see me.
I rolled out my best stuff for about 20 minutes and there were no laughs. I mean, none.
One guy made a bit of a sound but I think he was choking on his own vomit.
At the 20 minute mark the drunkest guy in the bunch stood up and in a loud voice,
” This broad thinks she’s funny? Well she a’int.” And he and his posse left.
My husband stood at the back with the bartender moving his hand across his throat to “Cut.” But I said I’d do an hour and dang it, they were getting an hour.
Time seemed to be at a stand still. I kept eyeballing my watch, and the minute hand seemed to be frozen in holy terror.
This show had a dance routine built in and a smart person would have cut it but by now I was getting angry, so I danced for them. Dang it!! I danced 3 minutes to Bob Seeger.
The bartender made the sign of the cross and downed a shot.
After 64.2 minutes the bloodbath ended. I walked off stage, thanked the host and got in the car and went directly to the bank to deposit my cheque. ( Always deposit a cheque quickly in case they put a hold on it.)
Every 10 kms on the trip home, my husband yelled out, “Gosh that was horrible.” And then we laughed. What else could we do?
It was a terrible night at the office.
It was terrible then and 15 years later its now.
But I learned one night of failure doesn’t end a career.
Some days your job doesn’t feel like a passion. A purpose or a vocation. Somedays its a job. There is no big lesson to learn. Its boring, irritating and sometimes you leave with egg on your face.
Some days you just have to do your job. Get your money, pay the bills and go home. And there is dignity in that.
But most of all it’s a real gift when you have someone who can laugh along with you.
Comment below if you have a ‘failure’ story to tell: And next time I will tell you about the corporate boat cruise where I had to play a woman with a yeast infection.
My Fall Writing Workshop and Shows:
Upcoming Dates for the Hit Show====The Year of The Suddenly
All 3 shows benefit Hospice.
Deborah Kimmett is a motivator, comic and keynote speaker. She speaks and trains organizations all over North America on The Creative Power of Disruption. And How Storytelling Can Help Your Leadership Skills. She appears regularly on CBC Debaters, and Winnipeg Comedy Festival. If you want to be inspired contact Aysun @ firstname.lastname@example.org to book her for your next event.