I videotape or audiotape about half of my comedy sets. I listen to or watch maybe half of those. So I review a quarter of my sets. A number that should be higher but between writing a blog per week and status updates I don’t get to critique the magic as much as I would like. I also don’t love hearing myself.
To improve however, one must honestly assess where they are to determine where they must go. So for ¼ of my sets I bite the bullet and listen to my own comedy. It’s actually never as bad as I thought…or as good as I thought.
While reviewing a set I did in El Paso I was treated to a golden nugget from a heckler in the crowd. I was asking where I should go hang out afterward. Apparently the place I was heading to was a known hang out for Cholos. (Mexican Gangsters) Some in the audience discouraged me from going there. A black audience member suggested another club. Apparently, that spot is a known hang out for…black gangsters.
I told them I felt I was in a pickle. It seemed I could get shot in either place. Then came the heckle of the century. I couldn’t it make out during the show but heard it on the playback. A boisterous but supportive audience member screamed out “No one’s going to shoot you Will Smith!”
Clearly there are a few ways to take this. I choose to focus on my universal appeal that the heckler was clearly alluding to. As far as he could tell my demeanor would make me okay in both places. He wasn’t taking a jab at my street cred as much as he was succinctly and hilariously stating that those gangsters probably wouldn’t be interested in messing with me because of my disarming nature. If only that heckler ran one of the networks.
The heckler, who seemed to know his way around a street or two, had basically given me a pass to run amuck in El Paso. A pass for Juarez, Mexico however, just over the boarder, is a different thing all together. (I ain’t that universal!) El Paso is said to be the safest city in the country*, while Juarez, Mexico, just over the border is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. There’s a thin line between “shoot the breeze” and “please don’t shoot.” I was on the good side of that line so maybe that heckler was right, universal appeal notwithstanding.
By the way, heckling at my shows is still frowned upon.