This is a completely accidental #30before30 post. I didn’t mean to become a minor hate figure. But it turns out if you slag off open mic stand-up comedians, these things can happen.
My article about attempting stand-up at a tough pub room was certainly insensitive in parts. Perhaps describing some of the comics as “relentlessly awful” was a tad on the harsh side. I was fully prepared to cop a bit of stick for that. Putting myself in the comics’ shoes, I could see how I might come across as some hoity-toity media type who was just toying with an entertainment form to which they’ve dedicated a large chunk of blood, sweat and tears. (Hell maybe I am that. Just wish I had the money and clothes to match).
What I didn’t anticipate was a firestorm of epic proportions engulfing my humble little corner of cyberspace. I understand the principles behind a “flame war” – basically, people getting angry and hurling poorly spelt insults at each other on the internet – but had never actually been in one, let alone caused one.
I assume most of those expressing their forthright opinion were stand-ups, but most of them hid behind the moniker of “Anonymous”, so I can’t be certain.
The flame war started off with some relatively decent points, mostly about a perceived bias of mine against blue humour:
“Don't think that you are smarter then any of the other beginners because you weren't doing d*** jokes.”
“Your holier than thou attitude about not doing d*** jokes doesn't carry much weight, if your material isn't funny. I am glad you gave it a go, but try not to put down others for doing the same.”
My goal was to avoid d*** jokes because I didn’t think I could pull them off (oo-er). But apparently my choice of material (topical, news-based, a fair bit silly) was wrong too:
“So true that a rendition of 'boring but clean' painfully excruciating overacted theatrical observations would mostly entertain the cheese-eating variety of 'Audi wanting...but can’t afford' pretentious circle you clearly occupy... eagerly entertaining a limited few by being whimsical or cosmic ...fantastic.”
“I expect nothing less from a drama geek who thinks she is the smartest person in the room.”
“Go on your merry way you pretentious useless maggot. Thanks for trying but u failed.”
There was nasty stuff:
“GO JUMP IN FRONT OF A MOVING BUS!”
“Maybe you should do us all a favour and go and date Matthew Newton...”
And then it got particularly funny when it descended into personal attacks:
“For someone with looks like yours, I'm surprised your sense of humour isn't better.”
“Seriously though... Ugly and unfunny. Go back to reading the news, amateur.”
“Your retarded 'failed drama teacher' antics are almost as deplorable as your lack of writing ability.”
Throughout all these insults though, and with no prompting, a whole bunch of nice and no doubt
attractive people leapt to my defence.
There were sensible philosophical thoughts:
Spencer - “It strikes me that Brisbane comedians are not used to being reviewed or written about… if only we had more published reviews about local comedians, everyone would benefit.”
Clairece – “It's shocking that some comics can't offer advice, but just take it as a trial by fire. We all get blisters when we wear new shoes.”
JennyWynter – “Whether or not you agree is totally subjective. Just like comedy. Funny that.”
Nadia – "As much as I understand the human's love for feeling offended… I think this dialogue has met an impasse.”
And then BT’s own master of flame war tactical smackdowns John Birmingham rallied his troops, and weighed into the battle, broadswords out and ready to reign down some blows of comedy gold.
Birmo -“Holy crap, it’s true. Stand up comedians are all mentally ill.”
DrYobbo – “So if she's not funny, and you've progressed no f**king farther than her, what the f**k does that make you, lads?”
Boylan – “Did I also mention that Anonymous probably smells a bit due to poor personal hygiene?”
Moko - “Never actually seen ‘adult’ males lash out with their nails like seven-year-old girls before. I blame Winnie Reds and VB. And Ford.”
There was more of course, so much more. But after 119 comments, I decided to invoke Godwin’s Law to bring the whole slanging match to an end.
The best part was that I actually wound up doing another a comedy competition last Wednesday night at Kitty O’Shea’s, which won me a place in a grand final. The MC, a comedian named Steven J. Whitely, had heard about my review, and challenged me to go to his open mic room at Uber in West End the next night. He said it was a “proper” open mic room, with no racing, no TVs, and a supportive and friendly crowd.
So I did. It was where I performed my song, and chatted a bit about the whole experience, to a generally positive reception. Again, I wasn’t very good, and many of my jokes fell as flat as my guitar. But I accepted he had a point about the venue playing a large part of the mood of an evening, and I was happy
I went back to better flesh out my knowledge of the scene.
I’m not sure if I’m still a Minor Hate Figure, but the past week or so has shown me the very best and worst of the internet, and I wouldn’t change a thing. A few years ago – heck, even a few weeks ago, such harsh criticism could have reduced me to a sniffling wreck. But I was able to sit back and actually enjoy the flame war flume ride, because hey, I’d already done the hardest bit – getting up and actually doing stand-up comedy.