I had a one man show several years ago. It was called “Nerdography: the Story of a Nerd” and it explored my own personal nerd history and of the word itself. I did it once at iO’s Slugfest and then twice more at the Live Bait Theater. Then, 9/11 hit. That was a Tuesday. That Friday, after days of crying and trying to contact family and friends back in New York, I went to the theater expecting to just sit there by myself. I had absolutely no desire to do the show, but then 5 people showed up. People I didn’t even know. In my mind, I was screaming, “What are you people doing here? Go home and curl up into a ball!!” Then an audience member I did know said to me, “Oh, I’m glad you’re here! We had to get out of the house and away from the TV. Thanks!”
That show may not have been the best show I ever did, but that five person audience each got comic books, action figures, trading cards, candy, some even came on stage and learned to fight like Captain Kirk. And for 50 minutes we all laughed at a nerd instead of cried for the world.
It is a privilege to perform for other people. If you charge money so that people can watch you improvise especially. All privileges come with responsibilities and the comedian’s responsibility is to make others laugh when his heart is breaking. Heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says “But, doctor…I am Pagliacci.”
Whenever, there’s a choice between nothing and show, a choice between a party and a show, I always choose the show. The show goes on- you never know who needs it more.