Tarun Shetty - The Dark Side - April 28th

Tarun Shetty - The Dark SideFriday, 28th April
Ok, before you read any further I want to say, I don’t have an alcohol problem. I never have, never will. It’s a rare sight to see me wasted and the following took place over a span of like three months.

I do, however, admit that at one point in my career I used alcohol as a crutch on stage. It all began a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…


When I was in New York, I used to play a club in Times Square. We’d have these huge tourist crowds in the summer time. They were by far the best audiences because they were from all over the country and were always ready to have a great time. Those shows were moments where I really enjoyed comedy cause there was no outside pressure of showbiz whatsoever.

One Saturday night in particular, the room was especially packed and somebody bought me a shot and a jack and coke before I performed. I never drank in college so I was buzzed pretty quick and went on to have the set of my life.

The next few weeks, I always had a few drinks before performing and always a drink in hand on stage. All the years learning about timing and concentration went out the window. Even when I made a mistake or stumbled over a word, I didn’t even care, and audiences loved it! I was finally the cool guy on stage, and I found a magical shortcut to being funny.


A couple weeks later I was auditioning for the owner of the Comic Strip, Three minutes till showtime, and I’m at the bar rifling through my wallet for spare dollars. “Where’s the bartender! Can I get a drink?” I needed it right then and there. Worst of all, I requested a Baileys which is like the girliest drink you can get. It was pathetic.

A month later, I was on a plane to LA. I had just signed with a new manager. My dream was coming to life. The company had never seen me live, they signed me off a tape, which is pretty rare in Hollywood, and I was booked to do the biggest show of my life.

It was a showcase for every industry types in Hollywood at the Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard. The Tonight Show people were there, Fox, whatever… it was an impressive list and the club was totally sold out. I also had just spent the last 7 or so years doing stuff like working the door at a comedy club and passing out flyers on street corners for stage time. I’ve never been to jail but it was like being up for parole and starting a new life. I never came close to having any opportunity to showcase myself so this was a big deal for me.

Anthony Clark, the star of a CBS sitcom was on right before me. He was doing well, with like no effort. I sat unimpressed from the balcony, watching below, drinking my jack and coke. I’m not sure how many I had but it was a few. I was so out of it, I remember telling a complete stranger next to me ‘They’re just laughing because he’s famous.” She looked back like I was nuts. I didn’t care. I was bursting with confidence and everyone was about to witness the great comedy stylings of Tarun Shetty

I’ll try to recall this as best I can, though it's hard to remember. The host introduced me and I sauntered to the stage. My head was so big, if I smoked I probably would have taken a cigarette out and lit it. I took the mike out of the stand and almost hit myself in the head. Great, 30 seconds in and I'm re-creating some sort of slapstick Charlie Chaplin routine.

My first joke completely missed. Second one, miss. I wasn't even saying the jokes right. I’m usually pretty alert on stage, and am good at getting myself out of jams. But tonight I couldn't focus and had no chance at getting this crowd going.

I plowed through. Not a complete disaster, but it was far from the 6 minutes I envisioned.

I didn’t even stay for the rest of the show. I was so embarrassed I went back to my friend’s place and caught a flight the next day back to NY. (I came back though!)

I realized a lot of things that night. One, I am a total lightweight and have the alcohol tolerance of a 90lb girl. Second, when people come to see me, I want them to see me in the purest form, where I am alcohol free and on my A-game.

No specific experience will ever determine the rest of my life. I’ve had many more opportunities and will have more to come to prove myself.

I’m still the cool guy on stage. Only now when I wake up the next morning I don’t have a headache and can remember everything from the night before.

That’s gotta be worth something. I'll raise my glass to that.

Tarun ShettyComment