There aren’t enough female stand-ups. There aren’t. At least in places like D.C., Chicago and Columbus, Ohio. Anyway, some things don’t mix. This is one of those stories. -ed.
“You can’t think of any other female comedians? They need me to hire a girl. I’ve already asked Nickey and Kate – and if you can’t do it, I literally cannot think of anyone else.”
I was not the first choice for my nightmare gig. Initially I wasn’t even going to do it. The show landed on Halloween 2010, and I had plans to host a party. Plus, the entire time I was on the phone with Bob, the comedian who asked me (last) to do the show, I had this nagging voice in my head. You’re not some last-minute choice that this guy can call up anytime for a show and you’ll just drop all your plans! You are a strong, talented woman and you deserve to be treated with respect!
Bob interrupted my voice. “The pay is $75.” I agreed to do the show.
The gig was a male and female revue at a rental party house. Bob would open for the female revue downstairs and I would open for the men upstairs. I said yes thinking revue meant talent show. It was a talent show of sorts. Everyone’s talent was taking off their clothes.
It is challenging to choose your wardrobe for a strip show. With a body shaped like a boxy avocado, and my talent being talking while fully clothed, I couldn’t plan to out-sexy the strippers. Instead, I went with a modest floral dress that made me look like a preteen that got lost on the way to Easter mass. Faking confidence, I bounced up to the door guy, dimples blazing, and said, “I’m one of the performers tonight.” He didn’t believe me. I didn’t know how to convince him I was part of the strip show, but not really part of the strip show, so I was thrilled when Bob found me and chaperoned me upstairs.
The showroom didn’t have a pole or a stage. It had the layout and mood lighting of a cafeteria with a bar. The man who ran the show was friendly, and took us on a tour of the very open, very bright space.
“You’ll get up here and tell some jokes, and then this is also where the dicks get swung,” said my boss for the night.
“Great!” I responded, trying to act nonchalant about sharing the stage with penises on the move.
Despite the circumstances, I actually thought I would do well. Predominantly female audiences usually love me, and they were all there to have fun! I stood corrected. Predominantly female audiences who know they are going to see comedy love me, and they were all there to get dicks swung in their face! These stripper-hungry women were not told there was going to be stand-up as part of the show. When I approached my patch of cafeteria stage, they didn’t think, ‘Wonderful! This nice lady will entertain us with some wordplay while the dancers get ready.’ They thought I was keeping them from the strippers, like some sort of vigilante prude with a microphone.
A woman talking is the opposite of a dick getting swung in your face. No matter how pretty my floral dress, I did not look or move like a leopard-skin cock.
Three minutes in I knew I would bomb for the entire 30 minutes, and I was ready to hunker down on those final 27. Boss-for-the-night had a look of terror on his face. He’d never run a comedy show before, and didn’t know he could light me to get me to stop. He stared on like I was a runaway train of terrible comedy. I survived bitter stares from the horny mob for a few more minutes before Bob held up his lighter and I was allowed to quit.
Before exiting my section of the cafeteria floor, I announced, “I’m going to leave so you bitches can get some dicks swung in your face.” One woman rose up and slow-clapped me away. After getting paid I gathered my belongings as quickly as possible.
In the back room, one of the male strippers tried to comfort me. “Tough crowd.”
He had the kind of body you would pour water on in R&B music videos. “I think they’ll like you better.” I said. He handed me his card, which featured a picture of him completely naked except for a Peter-Pan-style hat with a large, erect, feather held over his crotch. His name was Penetration. According to his card, he was great at graduation parties.
I didn’t stay for the show, but I do check out Penetration’s website, penetrationworld.com, from time to time. A few years ago it disappeared. I’ll never know what happened to Penetration, but I like to think I inspired him to follow his dream of being a stand-up comic.