Urban Room

slide-112Last night I performed in an “urban room” in Harlem. Urban room is code for black room. I had heard rumours that this show / mic is brutal and the minute I walked in I knew the rumours were true. This is a room where you don’t get a standing ovation you get a walking ovation. The show is set in a bar/lounge and there is no separate space for comedy. Before the comedy show starts the DJ spins hot tunes, everyone is drinking, dancing, having a good time. All of a sudden the fun stops and the comedy show begins. A fun party-sphere is a tall order for stand-up comedy to compete with. You need to be energetic and full of ‘act outs’ to fully catch the attention of the audience; otherwise your jokes needs to be related to pussy, dick or titties. That’s just the truth of the situation. When I walked in an hour before the show started (the tell tale sign of a rookie) I stuck out like a sore thumb. At one point the DJ said “hey girl you looking for Columbia University?”. I felt embarrased, but at the same time, could recognize that it was hilarious. I kept trying to find a seat so I didn’t stick out so much, but wherever I tried to sit the seat was apparently “taken”. I was the Rosa Parks of Harlem. Finally the sign-up ‘list’ went out and I wrote down my name only to find out that the ‘list’ was merely a ceremonial show order. Comedians would be called up at the whim of the host, if called up at all. I was called up and started by dancing hip hop to the music while walking to the mic. In my humble opinion I got decent moves (for a tighty whitey). This got the audience on my side. I then started my set by saying ‘When I walked in tonight I was asked if I was looking for Columbia University, all I gotta say is hellz no I’m from… NYU”. This went over-well. “Now when my mom named me Michelle she said she was deciding between Michelle and Shkwanda.” The audience was like wwaah? I continued “If I were Shkwanda then I would be the hottest cracker in all of Harlem, Ok the Upper East Side… I am so ashamed of where I am from.” It was a good start. I got a little muffled in the middle, but ended with my quintessential joke “when I sit down I get rolls in my stomach so I created the expression ‘layers for the players’.” This actually got an applause break so I bailed on the rest of the joke and ended there. I stood my ground. It’s important to be able to work in every room and well lets just say I gotta long way to go to rock the Urban circuit, but what I learned tonight was that I can exude confidence and bottom line- the kid’s got potential. Now, watch me bomb tonight. Hey, that’s the nature of the game.

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