Like any job, comedy comes with a complication or two. Being away from home is probably the biggest. When you’re gone for more than the 9-to-5, you hope your time home can make up for it. Being gone is a pain (if you like your family), closely followed by performing piece of material you really like to a total bunch of strangers—and having it fall flat.
More so when your gig is a cruise ship (like my one week a month is) and you have to hang with those witnesses for a few days after…ughhh! Fortunately, the better you get at this comedian thing, the fewer the bad attempts tend to be, and the less room service you have to order to avoid the stares.
Being “gone” is easier when you find out you’re working with a friend or two. After performing for strangers for over 20 years now, it’s rare to find a lot of new things, and I value when that happens.
This week held a something new—an entirely new feeling: This smaller ship is leaving the fleet so this is its last cruise. The 400 passengers had been on board together for between two and three months, and I come in for the final four days. What a completely different vibe to any show, ship, or venue I’ve ever played. These folks made it seem like I was performing in someone’s living room, only a living room with really good lights and sound.
They all knew each other, knew who was arriving late and where to sit (they’ve had the same chairs for two months!) They’ve seen 50 acts, including more than a few comics. I had a nice reception and solid reaction, and even the new piece went well (WHEW!!!) But as we get ready for the last day, there’s a tinge of sadness different than any cruise, or club, or college, or corporate show I’ve ever played. These people made real friends on the ship, and I was happy to be one of the last shows on one of their last nights.
It was odd having so much fun and relaxation end with so much nostalgia. I’ve never seen so many people hugging on the last night—except maybe at camp and that was only a week…and I was only 10. These people are a bit older than 10. I’ve never seen emotional complications in an audience after the fact. It’s very nice to find, and soothing to see, that there are still moments where people can make, enjoy, laugh with, and then sincerely miss new friends.