Thursday, April 1, 2010

My First Time at The Funny Bone - Jeff Konkle

The Funny Bone comedy club in Station Square was a fixture of the Pittsburgh comedy scene for nearly three decades. I say that in the past tense now though, because as of Monday the Funny Bone is no longer with us. The owners announced that the club will instead scale back and move into the Radisson Hotel in the suburb of Greentree. This is a very normal move for a comedy club. Many of them nowadays simply cannot face the harsh environment on their own, so they seek shelter in established real estate that already has captive audiences readily available. There is no shame in this. It's a smart business move and that's what it's all about. Like it or not comedy would not exist if it didn't make money for the people producing and performing it. Neither would any form of entertainment; art, television, sports, literature, porn, etc.

I will miss the beleaguered club though, in a strange way. To be honest, my fond memories of that place are very few and extremely far between. However, it was the home of my very first time ever doing stand-up comedy. And you always remember your first time.

It was June of 2006. I had graduated from Penn State just a month prior and was already working at my day job. I was also a boomerang child, living at home with my parents, so I felt the extra need to get out of the house. For the last few months of school, I had seriously thought about doing stand-up. I had begun writing down little funny ideas here and there in my junior year of college. It was only then, almost 4 years ago, that I started trying to piece them together to form cohesive bits of comedy. I had read several books on getting started in the world of comedy, so I knew, at least academically, some of the basics: call the club a week beforehand to get booked, tip the wait-staff, and always get off when the red light in the back of the room flashes.

I called down to the Funny Bone and asked the lady at the other end of the phone if I could attend the open-mic next week.

"Sure," she said. "You know you need to bring at least ten people right?"

"Uh, yeah. I can do that," I replied.

"You know all of those people have to buy at least 2 drinks right?"

"Um...no. But I'm sure that won't be a problem. I have very thirsty friends," I answered. Already I was seeing the strategic business sense of the comedy club shining through. "By the way, since it's my first time performing, how long of a set will I need to do?

"Oh, I don't know. I think like 20 minutes is the usual."

Gulp. 20 minutes? I didn't even think I had five minutes of material! As I hung up the phone, I thought to myself, Screw that! I was just going to go in with my fragile 5 and see where it got me.

I spent 40% of the next Wednesday pre-vomiting from over-anxiousness. I was going to do stand-up, something I'd talked about for months. I couldn’t believe it.

Read the rest at JEFF KONKLE"S WEBSITE!

Jeff Konkle is a stand-up comedian who can currently be seen featuring at the Improv Waterfront.


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1 comment:

Jeff said...

This was an awesome post! I'm so talented!