Andrew Bucket is an old friend. We knew him before he became a stand up. We knew him before he was a storyteller. Now he’s a very good stand up. We knew him when he was not very good. Now he has more material than Disney songs. -ed.
Before stand up I did storytelling. The first performance I gave was a smash hit. I’d been coached over many weeks, and the most crucial part was that the audience had paid to see storytelling that night.
My second time on stage was the worst show I ever did. This isn’t uncommon for performers. An early gig being the worst and it’s usually a bar gig for 5 people watching TV or its a rowdy drunk crowd that belittle a green performer. For me, it was a paying gig for the Cherry Blossom Festival closing party and it was in front of 3,000 people.
I got the gig because a friend heard about my great debut and thought I was funny IRL and assumed I was already a pro.
I had only been on stage once and didn’t understand that audiences are different every time. I thought I could handle 3,000 people, no problem. The first performance was for maybe a hundred people. Naturally, this would be 30 times better.
I was booked to tell a funny twenty minute story about growing up abroad. I’d be on in between two bands while a stage crew moved gear behind me, for my second performance ever, for 3,000 drunk people.
In the green room I was mixing it up with other performers and drinking the booze and kinda acting like a big shot. After all, I was already a paid performer that was doing huge shows. Show business is easy, I thought.
The band before me was electric. The singer wore white leather shoes and danced like Prince and played songs that sounded like Prince and then closed by covering Prince. People were going nuts.
Then they brought me up.
The expressions on the hundreds of faces that I could see were something like: is he going to make an announcement? Followed by sheer disgust when they figured out that I was about to do a little sincere performance.
Two and a half minutes into the exhausting and sprawling story about myself that I had prepared, the swell of chatter and drink ordering was deafening. There were four people at the stage who were attempting to listen but couldn’t hear me. Then the heckling started.
“Cut his mic, cut his mic!”
I looked side stage and the promoters looked at me like “you gotta do something.” So, hand to my heart, I went into some embryonic version of hacky alt comedy and sang “Colors of the Wind” from the Disney movie Pocahontas. People were shaking their heads and eye rolling if not just totally ignoring me.
Then I hung up the mic and was too embarrassed to return to the dressing room where the legitimate performers were. I quickly used all my drink tickets, avoided eye contact with anyone in the crowd and tried to leave before anyone saw me.
The nightmare gig was entirely my fault, but also not a mistake to have taken it. I just should have done something Prince related.