When I started doing stand up, I fucking hated the tough shows.
By "tough shows", I mean shows where the audience has distractions all around them, or most of them aren't listening. Mainly bar shows and things like that. It's hard to do well in some of those rooms, especially when you compare it to being in a comedy club where the audience paid to be there, and have no real options other than to pay attention to the comedian. In a bar, particularly one that doesn't charge a cover or sell tickets, sometimes there are more people in the audience NOT listening to the show than there are actually paying attention to the comedians. If there's even an audience at all.
(For the record, this isn't always the case. I've learned over and over again that just because you're telling jokes in a club doesn't mean it's going to be easy. And conversely, some of the easiest nights I've ever had on stage have been in bars. You never really know until you get there. But you get what I'm saying...)
The point is, some shows are just harder than others. And, particularly when I started, I hated the tough shows. I'd do a set somewhere easy and get a bunch of laughs, and walk out feeling like I was a real comic. And then I'd go do a spot in front of a small, rowdy audience, bomb, and walk out feeling like a piece of shit. I remember Lars Callieou telling me shortly after I started, "the tough shows are what make you good". I didn't really get it at the time, because I thought, "how do I get good if nobody is listening to me?" But yep, he was right. You get so much better when you struggle.
The tough shows make you hard. It's kind of like the old saying, "you learn more from losing than you do from winning." When you do well on stage, it feels good. I really don't know if there's a better feeling in the world than standing in front of a room full of strangers and making them laugh. It's vindicating to know they think you're funny. But, I don't think you really get any better. When you're in front of a tough audience, and you can figure out how to crack them and make them laugh? That's when you start levelling up.
And just learning how to power through a set in front of a bunch of people that hate you is a valuable skill, too. If you commit to being on stage for X amount of time, you better be up there for that amount of time. And when you get in front of a tough crowd, you learn how to power through and try to win them over. It makes you exponentially better. And as an added bonus, you spend time working out in tough situations, and then you get put into an easy spot, and it's like shooting fish in a barrel. You can just have fun and enjoy it.
I guess all I'm trying to say is that I like being on stage anywhere, but there's a sick side of me that's really starting to like being in tough situations. I like trying to figure out how to turn a potential loss into a win, and even when it doesn't work out, I go home that night feeling like I got a great workout in. The bad nights are what make the good nights so much fun...
As always, thanks for reading. Have a good weekend!