I’ve read a number of articles describing what it’s like to bomb onstage but very few that tell you what to do about it. I’m going to leave out the general advice of “Be prepared” and “Know your audience” and rather focus specifically on the moment that you know you’re bombing.
If you’ve told one joke that didn’t work, that’s not bombing. Bombing refers to times when you feel the entire crowd hates you and it doesn’t appear ANYTHING you say is going to work. It ranks as one of the worst feelings on the planet. Imagine the rejection you feel when you strike out with a girl at a bar. Now imagine that 300 people all watched that happen – not in a funny way but in a real, exposed, vulnerable, awkward way.