Musings on Amusing: Obnoxia, USA


A blogumn by Jessica Glassberg

If a comedian is on stage and no one hears her…did she tell a joke?

Since moving out to LA, I have returned to Long Island numerous times and, whenever possible, will work in some stage time…it’s usually a grand ‘ol time.

This past weekend, however, was different.

I walked into the club…and instead of the usual stragglers in attendance at a comedy show on a Sunday night; the entry way was filled with people.  It was a huge event for local soccer teams…the more the merrier…or so I thought.

I met up with my fellow comics in the greenroom backstage as the MC warmed up the crowd.

We couldn’t hear what was going on, but when the MC returned, he looked beaten and said in a most sarcastic way, ‘Good Luck.”

I went around to the showroom …the crowd only responded to jokes involving putting one’s balls in the toilet or shitting one’s pants.

Eventually, it was my turn, and I thought…do I go dirty?  My dirty material is barely PG-13 and this was an NC-17 crowd.

I heard my intro, but I might have been the only one.  95% of the audience was talking…not whispering, not on it’s way to quieting down, but in full on conversation mode.

As I approached the mic stand, the only thing I could decipher was a masculine voice heckling, “Okay…next.”

Apparently, someone was of the chauvinist mindset that women aren’t funny.

However, amongst the tumult I couldn’t even tell where it was coming from and figured that once I started up…the noise would go down.

I was wrong… I did my first joke to a mild reaction, I tried to quiet the crowd down by talking louder…talking lower…pretending we were in a library…and by flat out calling them “Obnoxia USA.”

It was useless…

My brain swirled, “Do I try my blow job joke from 2001?  Do I make up a poop joke? A dick joke? Have a conversation with my labia?”

Would anyone hear it?

I continued on with my material. About 20 of my family and friends had shown up to support me, and I wanted them to have a good time…but I could feel their tension as they struggled to hear.

A few people at the foot of the stage looked to me, strained to listen, and smiled broadly signifying their encouragement.

I continued on, not rushing or turning on the crowd, until I anticlimactically completed my 12- minute set to the continuous sound of gabbing, my family’s attempt to both hoot and holler over the din, and the applause of the few strangers who were able to hear and enjoy my set.

After the show, I apologized to my guests especially those who could not even hear a single joke.

Mid-apology, an audience member I did not know came over and told me he thought I was hilarious…and wasn’t just saying it (like my family might have been)

Still, I wondered how I could have made it all better…how I could have tamed the crowd…how much raunchier I should have gotten to get people’s attention…

The self doubt still swirls, but I knew I made at least one person proud when my Grandma pulled me aside the next day and declared that I was such a classy lady.