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 Jackie Kashian and third-person bios are disingenuous. I’ve been doing standup for a very long time. (I count the ’80s as one year.) I’ve been on TV a lot and appeared on Murphy Brown as an airport cop back in the 20th century!
More recently, I’ve done standup on Comedy Central and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. You should totally come see me do standup alive and in-person. Check my website or various social mediaz for dates!
First standup experience
I saw Sam Kinison in 1984 before he was famous. He was bored and there were 50 people who were inattentive and I heckled him. He wiped the floor with me but I was too drunk to know, so I kept talking and the manager finally came over to tell me to shut it and mentioned, in his shut it talk, that “open mic is on Sundays.”
Life-changing comedy show
See above. Three weeks later, I did open mic and then I spent eight months doing standup every night until the club burned down. I got a 1.8 that semester. (That club was called the Comedy Cellar in Madison, Wisconsin, and was replaced by other clubs owned by other people afterward.)
The first comic I saw that made me think I could do my own kind of comedy was Dana Gould in 1993 in Minneapolis. He was honest, dark, sometimes dirty, and so smart on top of all that weirdness.
Top three comedy specials/albums
Maria Bamford — Plan B I believe it was filmed in Australia in 2005. It’s so raw and smart and silly and great. The DVD also has the honour of having her parents do the DVD commentary. Heh.
Chad Daniels — Natural Selection This is a gem in its “kind” of comedy. (If it’s even possible to box the guy in a category, which you cannot.) What I love about Chad is that he doesn’t do what good (but not great) comics do, which is come from a “I’m a dumb guy, so this happened and I reacted to it” place of comedy.
His comedy comes from “I’m not a dumb guy but I did a dumb thing”—it gives the audience permission to admit their own bad decisions or mistakes, making him a great comic. He has a newer album than this. All his stuff is great.
Laurie Kilmartin — 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad This includes biographical clips of her father dying of cancer and how she spent time with him in hospice, while tweeting about his decline, interspersed with a standup set of the jokes she wrote about his dying and death. Internalize that freaking process and soak it up.
All-time favourite joke or bit
Heh. Weird. All I can think of is Jay Leno on The Tonight Show when Ted Turner was pushing the “colourization” of old black-and-white movies. It was from his monologue: “Colourization is getting really popular. It’s controversial; they just colourized the first 10 minutes of The Wizard of Oz.” I paraphrase. But it made me see that there could be a definitive joke about anything.
Something you saw that made you laugh but probably shouldn’t have
I could be super cool and tell you “a mime show I saw in Australia in 2005” but they were trying to make me laugh and I can’t just hate something because it’s cool to do so.
I laugh a lot when I see a comic, who I know is funny, eating it. When they're floundering around and looking for something the audience wants to hear or is willing to laugh at. Heh.
That time I bombed
Most of the worst times I bombed were early on in my career. The craziest things happen when you don’t know how to deal with bombing. If it’s not going well now, I have a million ways to get through the set and jump around so the audience can pretend, at least, that they had fun. Heh.
So, it was about 1987. There were no clubs to do standup in Madison, Wisconsin, so me and the other comics would put on these random shows. This was one in a mediocre hotel bar on the beltway outside of town. There were abut 30 people there and most were there to see one of the other comics.
I do my set—it's 10 minutes max—and the audience is talking amongst themselves mostly. Except one table, where there were two guys saying dumb stuff to me. I have no idea what they said. I was the only woman comic so it was mostly “Hey, lady” stuff. They were super drunk. I finish my set.
The next comic goes up and I go to the bar to get a beer. The two guys are still heckling me. From the audience to me, in the audience. The comic onstage tries to get them to talk to me. One of them passes out on the table. The other one gets up and approaches me at the bar while the guy onstage tries to get his attention.
I order a beer. It comes in a mug. I’m standing at the bar thinking about the set, trying to figure how to fix it next time something like this happens. The heckler comes to stand right behind me. I feel him there and make the mature decision that, if he talks to me again, I’m going to throw my beer at him. He doesn’t. He touches me.
Afterward, I was told by the bartender and bouncer that the guy was reaching over my shoulder to grab my breast.
I only felt him touch my shoulder so turned and threw my beer at him. I missed him completely and hit the guy sitting at the bar behind him, full in the face.
The heckler then picked up that guy’s drink and threw it at me and it hit me in the face. Then he stood there, all six feet of him, laughing.
I punched him. I forgot I was holding the mug so I clocked him with the beer mug. He fell down. When he got up he yelled at me and called me a fucking dyke, and I, always a hero of the disenfranchised, charmingly responded, “You got a problem with homosexuality, faggot?”
We were both thrown out of the bar/hotel and, because it wasn’t a romantic comedy, we did not marry.
Jackie Kashian plays the Fox Cabaret this Wednesday (July 19) with special guests Alicia Tobin and Colin Sharp. For more information about the show, or to pruchase tickets, click here.