They say the number one fear in the world is public speaking. I can confidently say that I’m much more afraid of rejection. Particularly the rejection associated with my public speaking. Most comedians are super sensitive about their acts. Many can’t take the slightest bit of criticism. So we constantly live in fear…fear of someone saying something mean about our jokes, and fear of offending someone else by saying something about their joke. Well, some of us have more of one fear than the other. But at the end of the day, we are all comedians, and one’s judgement shouldn’t matter too much. But when an industry person…a gatekeeper…someone who can control your success…rejects your act, its like an arrow to your heart.
Its the last night of one of my first trips to LA. It was a 3 night run, where I managed to do all rooms in the Comedy Store on Monday, get passed at the Laugh Factory showcase on Tuesday, and now for the final challenge, perform at Comedy Juice at the Hollywood Improv. Yea the big 3 clubs, in 3 nights. Nice planning, Sammy. To add to it, I am being scouted by an agent tonight. I won’t say which agency, but our interaction was one of brevity. I am told the scout will be coming to watch me at the West Side Theatre in Santa Monica at 9. I go up first so I can make it to Comedy Juice at 10, I do my tight 7 to a cold crowd of 20, get some laughs, and an applaud or two, but I don’t see a scout anywhere. Now to the Improv on Melrose, where a packed main room awaits me to go up first after the host. In the back of the room I see what looks like a talent scout, she walks in with confidence, schmoozes with other comedians, and carries a clip board. Hmm, did they pull a switcharoo on me? Why would they do that? I just did my tight 7 in Santa Monica, and I also have a girl with me who I want to impress, so I can’t just do that same set that she just saw here at Juice right? I have to switch it up. I’m sure it will be fine. Well, it wasn’t really. I do my lower tier jokes, and the crowd is stiff. I mean I don’t bomb, but I’m not stand out good. Finally at the end, I go into some of my better stuff, close with bear joke and get a full on applause, but it feels too late. This wasn’t really a strong set. After the show the scout walks in my direction, hooks a left, looking down, and walks out of the room. I asked another comedian what that meant. He said, that’s not good.
I never heard back from the agency. Ever. Well, it’s been almost 1,000 days, maybe they are still getting around to sending me that email. I’m still without an agent, and it always reminds me of that day that I had a chance and blew it. This was a big rejection for me, early in my streak, early in my move to LA, early in my understanding of how the industry works. What did I learn that night? If you think you see an agent, do your BEST, your BEST stuff. Go in with energy and make yourself stand out. Or maybe don’t ask them to come see you prematurely…until you understand the crowd at Comedy Juice, or how to stand out in LA, or how to impress a girl in better ways than showing her that you have more than 7 minutes of quality public speaking.