Stupid Gigs - Aug 22nd - 2007

Stupid GigsWednesday, 22nd August

This journal entry is about a stupid gig I did about 6 years ago. I’m just telling you right now so you know. There’s no moral or message or any inspiration of hope. It’s just another gig, one of many, that I probably shouldn’t have done. If you’re still with me then you’re welcome to read on…

So one day my friend Adam Hunter calls me up. I’ve known him for a long time, and at the time we were still passing out flyers together on the NY streets for stage time.

‘Tarun, wanna open for me?’
‘Just show up at Chelsea Piers tomorrow at 11pm.’

I liked opening for my friends. It was easy money and I only had to do about 20 minutes of material. (Which was all I really had at the time) Kind of like just warming up the audience and getting out of there. Perfect for an up and coming comedian.

I show up the next night and Adam is standing by the docks.

“Where’s the show?”

He points to a half-sized cruise ship floating next to us. It sat peacefully, floating in the water, a stark contrast to the absolute doom that awaited us.

“Excuse me?”
Adam had big smile ‘It’s a high school prom show!”

Oh God, did I hate these shows. They used to have them at New York Comedy Club at 2 am in the morning. The club would basically cart in about 80 high school kids who just finished their prom for a magical nightcap of stand-up comedy. What a dream!

I didn’t care. It was 50 bucks. Being a comic is like being a prostitute with a microphone.

“Let’s go!”

We board the boat with the kids. At the time, both of us looked young enough to be in high school. However, like most of the high school prom shows I’ve performed for, this was an inner city school. Kids are speaking Spanish, wearing doo-rags with tuxedos, America’s future!

We push off and the ship chugs around the harbor. Adam and I hang out outside by the lounge chairs. The ship sucked. It was dingy, the paint was peeling and it smelled of rotten fish.

‘Having fun?’ Adam asks.
‘The best.’

About forty-minutes into the voyage the DJ, a big fat guy who’s sweated through his shirt, approaches.

‘Which one of you is first?

“Me. Tarun Shetty.”

He shoves a wireless microphone into my hand and we follow him inside to a small dance hall. The first thing I noticed was how small the room was. All the kids were compacted into this tiny room, making it unbelievably hot. Rap music blared from two giant amps while a hanging strobe light shined red blue and green colors onto the wooden floor. Still, the kids were having fun. A night away from their parents and the pressures of school -- a taste of freedom.

Suddenly, the music stops.

The DJ’s Voice sounds from the speakers. “Everybody get off the floor!”

A tiny spotlight from the DJ booth illuminates me.

The kids look confused. The DJ gave me no intro whatsoever. For all they know, I’m the captain of the ship.

I momentarily freeze like a deer in the headlights before launching into my act.

“So I’m from New Hampshire, Anybody here from New Hampshire?”

Silence. I do another 3 minutes before people start voicing their displeasure.


People are shouting, yelling profanities. Obviously, this wasn’t comedy. I was just some guy interrupting a prom. I do 5 more minutes and introduce Adam. I don’t really remember how Adam did. Maybe I blocked it out of my memory or I left the room in search of a lifeboat. Either way, this had to be one of my top 5 worst gigs.

Adam and I made it back to the shore that night. I think we hid somewhere on the boat, in complete denial, bragging to each other that we were both incredibly funny and the crowd loved us.

Although a monetary victory, I would later use the money several years later to pay a therapist and help cure the irreparable damage showbusiness has had on my mental psyche.

It was just another gig. That’s all. This one just happened to be really, really stupid.

Tarun ShettyComment