[Author's note: I've never thought seriously about doing stand-up comedy. I've thought about writing jokes. I've actually tried writing jokes, and I'm no good at it. I thought about someone who is terrible at writing jokes but good at banter and turned it into this. Enjoy -- L]
Let’s face it. The comic was no good.
She’d been to stand-up comedy before, and she knew what she liked. She’d also been bored by comics before, but never quite so thoroughly.
“Now, I’m not so good with people, you know? Like this is the highest level of intimacy I can handle. You guys good with this? Good then let’s go.”
It wasn’t like his material didn’t have potential, he just really didn’t know how to tell a joke. His timing, the quaver in his voice, the uncertainty in everything, it just made everything fall flat.
There was a bit where he pretended to think Crossfit was a workout program for Christians that almost made her laugh, but the beats were off, and there just wasn’t any skill there.
She was seriously considering getting up and going when his voice changed subtly.
He told a story about coming home to find his house had changed. He put on his detective hat and got out his magnifying glass. It was turning out to be pretty funny. He finally had to conclude, he said, when he couldn’t find any fingerprints, or his dishes, his porn, or his favourite ratty old shirt that the culprit had been…
His voice faltered, quavered, and he was going to lose the story. He was going to lose the audience completely. Especially her.
She’d never been a heckler. But this guy was dying.
“Your mother!” she yelled out.
Heads snapped towards her. Shocked faces, dawning with comprehension, that went from slightly annoyed to amused, and laughter broke out.
“What?” The comedian didn’t seem annoyed. He seemed genuinely not to have heard.
“Your mother!” she replied.
“Oh my, do you kiss your children at bedtime with that mouth?”
The audience laughed again. She stayed sitting.
“Do you do this often?” he asked as she stayed in her seat.
“Listen, I don’t really know you, and this is pushing my comfort zone, but can you come up here? Come up here so we can talk.”
“Listen, I feel like I’ve really gotten to know you over these past twelve seconds, and I think it’s time to take this relationship to the next level.”
The audience cheered, probably because this was the most entertained they’d been through his whole set, and so she, ever so reluctantly, got up and walked to the stage.
A second microphone was procured, and before she knew it, she was bandying words with this comedian. He didn’t have any hesitation, just traded barbs. The crowd loved it; they laughed, they cheered -- her as much as him -- and when it was over, they clapped her off the stage just like they did him.
She sat through the rest of the acts. A couple people came over and nodded in her direction, laughing as they did so, but mostly, they left her alone. The other acts were much better put-together than that first comic. She couldn’t even really remember his name. Kevin something. But she remembered how she felt up on the stage. Not that she would ever be a stand-up comedian, but she liked how, instead of ignoring her, instead of yelling at her or getting her thrown out of the place, he’d brought her on stage and engaged her. That, she would remember for a long time.
As she was getting ready to leave, a short guy in a suit caught up to her and stopped her. He held out a slip of paper. She grabbed it. It said:
This is Arthur. He agreed to do me a solid. Please write your phone number down here because I would like to talk to you again. Please have a pen in your purse, because Arthur is an idiot and doesn’t carry one. -Kevin
She did carry a pen, and she did write down her name and number, and gave the paper back to Arthur. Thinking this was weird, but totally in keeping with the way that Kevin had run his stand-up routine, she went home.
“Hi Joyce, it’s Kevin.”
“You remember, from the club. I brought you on-stage and humiliated you with my razor wit?”
“Nope. Can’t remember that Kevin. I do remember eviscerating some comic named Kevin, though. Are you related?”
“You got me. The very same.”
“So, I’m calling because I feel like we got along very well at the social level of ‘dueling one-liners,’ and I thought I would like to get to know you better. What do you think?”
“I think that would be great, Kevin. Where would you like to meet?”
They dated for awhile. It was fun, witty, and very funny. Mostly for the people around them. They jostled each other gently with words, and got closer.
Kevin had a thing about levels of connection, levels of intimacy, and levels of friendship. Joyce didn’t get it, but if it helped Kevin in his interactions, then that was fine by her.
Eventually, she was sure. She wanted him, and she was sure he wanted her. The night had come. She went to his place, and the mood was certainly right for what she had in mind. Kevin put on some mood music, and she could tell he was not in the mood to joke around.
“Joyce,” he said. “I feel like we are finally close enough, we’ve spent enough time together, we’ve shared personal moments, and I think I’m finally ready.”
“Ready, Kevin?” Her heart was beating hard. She’d never been seduced this way.
“Ready. Ready to do to you what I wanted to do the night I called you up to the stage.”
“What’s that, Kevin?” She could play along.
“Something I’ve never done before.” He was getting excited, she could tell.
“What is it, Kevin?” She was so ready. All he had to do was say the words.
“Fuck you, Joyce.”
She stood there and said nothing. The words were right, but the tone was wrong.
“I said it. I said what I wanted to say. Fuck you, Joyce. I’m up on stage, doing my job, doing my best to make the crowd laugh, and you heckle me. Not just a normal heckle either, but a ‘Your mother’ joke? My mother died when I was nine, you bitch. Get the fuck out of here. I never want to see you again.”