That Time I Bombed is where the Straight asks comedians about their life-changing shows, favourite comedy albums, and, a subject that any comedian will face at some point in their career, a time that they bombed on stage.
Who are you
I’m Darcy Michael, self-declared good time.
I hate this part of interviews because I want to answer your question, but talking about my five appearances at Just for Laughs or that time I opened for Wanda Sykes or when my album, Family Highs, debuted at number one on iTunes just sounds super braggy.
Since you’re so insistent I guess I could mention my multiple appearances on CBC’s The Debaters or those two seasons I co-starred with Dave Foley on CTV’s Spun Out, but that’s it.
First standup experience
I did my first ever set at Zesty’s open mic night on Commercial Drive. I had literally never been to see standup before; in fact, my first time at the Comedy Mix was my first time in a comedy club. I was naïve to say the least, but I was so grateful to try it out—and man, looking back at it now it was p-a-i-n-f-u-l.
Anytime my husband thinks I’m getting a little too full of myself, he pulls out the tape of my first-ever show. Nothing grounds you like watching yourself think you’re being funny. I keep that tape under lock and key—it will never see the light of day. Mainly because people can’t see how skinny I was 15 years ago.
Life-changing comedy show
I got to open for Russell Peters at what was then GM Place. It was the same week as my parents 45th wedding anniversary and all my friends flew in from out of town. It was one of those “perfect storm” kinda nights.
I was backstage listening to 18,000 people take their seats. Until this show, I had never prayed before a set, but there I was in the referee’s dressing room praying that I don’t fuck it up. To this day, all I remember from that set is the physical wave of energy that hit me with every laugh; I knew I’d never be able to get a “regular” job again.
Plus, at that point, I had been fired from every regular job I’d ever had.
Top three comedy specials/albums
Ivan Decker – I Wanted To Be A Dinosaur Ivan and I started out together. I think my first show was his third or something like that. Watching his material and his voice take shape has been awesome; I think this album is some of his best work. Plus, I want to kiss his face, so I hope this blatant plug gets me a lil' something something. Wwwwwwwwink.
Darcy Michael – Family Highs I think my graphic designer, Tom Belding, deserves countless awards for my album cover. Honestly, I spent a long time honing my act and I think this album captures it the best, so fuck yeah, I’m plugging it. JUDGE AWAY but I got a kid in university so mama needs the bills paid.
Bridget Everett – Pound It There is literally no one braver or funnier for me right now. I got to open for Bridget one night in Montreal and it changed me forever. I recently saw her in L.A. at the El Rey Theatre where she had her house band with her and my God, I’ve never laughed harder or cheered louder. She is the embodiment of everything I love about comedy.
All-time favourite joke or bit
Oh my God, I could never choose an all-time favourite. There’s literally no way. Ivan Decker’s got a great bit about fences; anytime Debra DiGiovanni opens her mouth I pee a bit.
I think one of the coolest sets I’ve seen in the past year was watching Graham Clark read the phone book. Graham’s incredible, but that show in particular was very special to watch.
Something you saw that made you laugh, but probably shouldn’t have
This is so dumb, but I laughed for days. My two cats were sleeping facing each other when a loud crack of thunder hit, causing them both to startle awake and run face first into each other. Sure, the sativa oils in my system could have affected my reaction but I just thought it was so funny.
On a side note, did you know cats could die from concussions? The more you know.
That time I bombed
I’m sorry, what? No. Never. I’m very good.
Okay, but for reals, I have so many I can’t recount them all. One that stands out to me was from years and years ago. It was my first out-of-town gig—I was flown to Toronto to perform at the We’re Funny that Way comedy festival. It’s a queer-focused event run by the exuberant Maggie Cassella, a lovely and intensely determined woman.
Before arriving for the festival, I was asked for my rider—I like to think of myself as pretty easygoing, so my rider is normally just water onstage. Then this ridiculous e-mail thread starts between myself, Maggie, the stage manager, and the producers about how many water bottles I’ll need for my 20 minute set and whether or not I’d like the caps unscrewed or screwed.
After deciding I LOVE the drama that my water request has made, I tell them I’d like four bottles of water, all of them with the caps removed. This diva doesn’t need to exert energy if she don’t have to.
Fast-forward to the show itself, the audience is “light” to say the least. I’m mortified: “What do you mean a gay man that’s been doing comedy for about a minute and half in Vancouver doesn’t have a fan base in Toronto?!” They assure me they’ve moved everyone to the front row and it'll be a great show.
I’m nervous as all hell and I walk out onstage and promptly bump the stool holding the FOUR GIANT bottles of water. (I’m starting to wonder if they thought I had a medical condition that’d require me to have four litres of water to speak for 20 minutes, but I digress...) I bump the stool and the water bottles go flying into the front row, soaking literally two-thirds of my audience.
The remaining one third left to get napkins, and I was left on stage for 20 minutes being scowled at.
I don’t drink water onstage anymore. I just guzzle four to five litres prior to my sets now.
Darcy Michael plays the Comedy Mix (1015 Burrard Street) from April 20 to 22. He also has a show in development with CTV/Bell Media titled Darcy.