"For over half a century, the Improvisation Comedy Clubs have remained the premiere stages for live comedy in the United States. Over the decades, the talent who has played center stage represents the Who’s Who of American Comedy, including Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, Lily Tomlin, Freddie Prinz, Andy Kaufman, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Jay Leno, Chris Rock, Dane Cook, Ellen DeGeneres, Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler, Jeff Dunham, and Dave Chappelle."Of course, the Tampa branch hasn't been around that long but I've seen Steve White, Bobcat Goldthwait and one of my all-time favorites (and friend of this blog) Maria Bamford perform there. Getting the opportunity to do my stuff there, to stand in the same spot where those great comedians and so many others have stood and get laughs, is nothing less than an honor.
I had known for a while that I'd be part of a showcase put together by friend and mentor Tony Gaud but in the days leading up to it, I was getting pretty antsy. J.B. Ball, another local comedian that I admire and respect, advised me to treat it just like any other performance in any other room. I understand that logic and happy for the advice, but I kind of wanted to be at least a little awestruck. I wanted to really appreciate and respect the history of the place and the magnitude (at least to me) of being up there.
That hit a peak when Tony introduced me from the stage and I made the walk up the steps to the stage. I'm pretty sure nobody noticed but I paused for a millisecond to soak it all in... the lights, the applause, all of it, AHHHH!... before going into my routine, my best six minutes. That went well; I didn't forget anything, I got laughs throughout and applause at the end. Making everything even better than it already was, good friends were in the audience lending support.
When it was over, I went to the bar and redeemed one of my two free drink coupons (compliments of Improv management) and relaxed at The Comics Table, an area near the restrooms where the comedians hang out. As far as I was concerned, it might as well have been Booth 1 at The Pump Room.
I spent the rest of the night with my fellow comics, offering high fives and fist bumps to each other after they finished their sets. It was like a baseball dugout welcoming home teammates after they hit home runs. I love those people!
When I left, a party at an outdoor table at a nearby restaurant who had been at the show offered compliments on my set as I walked to the parking garage. What a perfect ending to a truly beautiful night.
Oh, and also this comment card...
|"Bring back Rio, Levi, Clark, Waters. Cool comics"|