For Ten Minutes, I Was The Headliner

There are so many things that have to be learned about being a stand up comedian. I’ve learned some things by taking advice from others and I’ve had to learn some things on my own, the hard way. Last night, however, something unexpected happened on stage that I couldn’t wait to share!

I was the host and emcee for the evening at The El Paso Comic Strip. I have been hosting regularly there for the past 6 months. As frequently as I have been getting booked there, I knew that I had to bring a bulk of new material with me so as not to bore the club’s regular audiences. I know there are quite a few who frequent the club on a weekly or monthly basis. I know this because, although I may not recognize some of them, some of them have come up to me after the show to say things like, “Great way to open the show! I’ve seen you perform here before and have enjoyed you every time!” To me, that says, “I’m looking forward to hearing new material from you next time!” At least, that’s how a comic should take that sentiment. This time around, I came prepared with approximately 5 to 7 minutes of new material along with some of my “tried and true” stuff. I kept my other material safely guarded in my back pocket with no intentions of bringing it out all week. On this night, however, I was gonna have to reach back in there and use it at the last minute. And it wasn’t because I was bombing. Allow me to set the scene for you…

The headliner, and incredible talent out of L.A., was reputed to arrive to the show moments before the feature performer had finished their set. This, of course, had me constantly watching to verify his arrival. The night before, the feature performer had got the “red light” from the monitors around the stage, indicating to him that he had 5 minutes left on his set. I looked around for the headliner, but he had not arrived yet. I let the bouncer of the club know that I was about to go back on stage and that I would deliver a few club announcements. Hopefully, the headliner will get here by then and the bouncer could then signal to me that he had arrived. That’s exactly what happened. I delivered the last club announcement and saw the bouncer give me the thumbs up. The rest of the show went on without a hitch and the headliner destroyed the room with laughter!

Well, on to last night. The SAME things occurred, except, this time, the headliner had not arrived by the time I had finished my last announcement. So, I did what a host and emcee is supposed to do. I kept the show going. Considering I hadn’t used some of my strongest material yet, I felt completely free to go ahead and do what I had to do and say what ever I wanted to say. Each joke got an eruption of laughter. Every silent pause got the same thing! Every body motion I made, had a purpose and it was all comedic. I WAS GETTING HEADLINER LAUGHS! There was even a moment where I literally had to pause almost 20 to 25 seconds to wait for the laughter to die down so that I could deliver the REALLY FUNNY part of the joke! Imagine that? After about 5 minutes, I took a moment to ask the bouncer, right from the stage, “Is our headliner ready?” The answer came back “No.” With that, some of the members of the audience yelled, “Keep going!”

I went on for another 3 to 5 minutes and saw the headliner coming in to the club from the back. I wrapped things up and brought up the headliner to the applause and delight of the audience. The headliner then went on to stake his claim and gave the audience a night of laughter that I’m sure will stay engraved in their memory!

I don’t want the headlining attention until I am ready for it and I’m years away from even scratching that surface. But, last night, was evidence, for me at least, that I could one day do just that. I will wait my turn. In the meantime, I will write, perform and keep writing til my number is called. It is brief moments like last night, that keep me going.

Thanks for reading.

Published by Omar Tarango

I am a father, company manager, and a stand up comic. Being a stand up comic is the least funniest of the three.

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