My family and high school friends came to see my show in the Bay Area last week. I thought my set went well. However, the only moment of weirdness of the night (assuming for a moment that someone standing on stage alone, telling jokes, isn’t weird), occurred when the “Headliner” referenced me and my set about four times, each time calling me “Balonge.”
“How long you been doing this, Balonge?!” he asked.
“Uh…a few years…” I replied. I didn’t really feel like explaining how I’d started in 1997 and then stopped and started.
“Keep it up!” he went on, as if I were a 25-year-old. “I’ve had development deals. Someday maybe you too can headline in front of 18 people in a squash court.” (To be fair, the venue did look like a squash court).
One of my big comedy pet peeves is when a comic spends precious minutes of the audience’s life listening to him rant about the state of his career or quality of venue. Hate and bitterness CAN be funny, but without the necessary ingredient of a “joke,” it ends up sounding, at best, like an unproductive therapy session.
It got a little uncomfortable after about the fourth time he addressed me.
“You should say something,” said my aunt.
Last thing I want to do is heckle a comic who seems to have some issue with me. Honestly, it just didn’t feel worth it. I chalked it up to an older man who can’t handle seeing a woman on stage. I didn’t think he found me unfunny. I think the part that freaks guys like him and Adam Carolla out is where a woman has some control and power (i.e., microphone and captive audience). Some childhood wiring gets set off and alarms start ringing. In certain parts of the world a woman could be stoned for telling a joke to a mixed gender audience. And for having an affair.
I’m just grateful to have the opportunity.
Just for today, I’m a first world woman.