The Sound of Crickets in Itaewon

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I’m currently at a PC room in Kangnam – “the Beverly Hills of Korea.” It’s the moneyed part of Seoul, and I’m being put up at a sweet hotel here, as part of the two-night standup show I’m doing.

I’ve been back at standup for five months now, and it’s been a great run so far. I’ve delivered some really solid sets and even knocked it out of the park a couple of times. People have laughed and I’ve had a helluva time.

Until last night.

I smelled trouble when I walked into the club, “The Kabinett Wine Bar.” I despise “wine bars” and their nauseating bourgeois trappings to begin with, but a gig’s a gig. I had also done a rocking show there over the summer, so my expectations were high.

I’m currently at a PC room in Kangnam – “the Beverly Hills of Korea.” It’s the moneyed part of Seoul, and I’m being put up at a sweet hotel here, as part of the two-night standup show I’m doing.

I’ve been back at standup for five months now, and it’s been a great run so far. I’ve delivered some really solid sets and even knocked it out of the park a couple of times. People have laughed and I’ve had a helluva time.

Until last night.

I smelled trouble when I walked into the club, “The Kabinett Wine Bar.” I despise “wine bars” and their nauseating bourgeois trappings to begin with, but a gig’s a gig. I had also done a rocking show there over the summer, so my expectations were high.

The first thing I noticed about the crowd is that they were OLD. I have nothing against performing for aged folks – I’m getting on myself – but they can be stingy with their laughter. It’s like getting a Canadian to pick up the check. They also looked well to do – the “international business set” – you know, the kind of douchebags that they advertise to on CNN Asia. And, apart from the Taliban, upper middle class white people are the most offend-able people on the planet. They were quiet. They were serious. They were quietly looking “sophisticated” and sipping wine.

Brian, the host, went up and slowly warmed them up, though he had to work for every chuckle. Then he brought me up.

I bombed.

It’s not like I ate a dick because I didn’t know what I was doing. I delivered my set well. Words were coming out of my mouth and I FELT like I was funny. And looking out into the sixty or seventy people in the room, there were about five or six people who thought I was funny as well. Not quite enough to wipe the scowls off the rest of the khaki and button-up shirt, crowd, though.

It was like performing for driftwood.

Kerry, the headliner, got up and managed to kindle a fire, but he lost them for big stretches, only to get them back some great lines. Kerry was a proper professional in Canada for ten years, and if he can’t get a room going, the night’s fucked. When the crowd likes me I can slay it, but I’m still figuring this shit out.

I’m not sure if the wine and cheese crowd is my thing. My comedy’s more suited for dive bars and rock clubs. But tonight should be a younger, hipper crowd – not one that just got off work at the investment bank and wants a monkey to dance for them. I’ve killed at this place before, so I know it can work.

Standup comedy is a strange beast, though. You NEVER know what you’re going to get. Never.



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