How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

bombI’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.

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5 thoughts on “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

  1. This is great stuff! i started a few months back but i have trouble connecting to the audience given my penchant for surreal humor .. though i wouldn’t want to change my brand of humour the advice given here on crowd work, voice modulation and stage presence are awesome! also its easier to connect with the advice given by a comic whose work you have seen 🙂 ..thanks Rajiv

  2. Thank you for this. I’m not a stand-up comedian, rather a drummer. I bombed last night when I was playing in front of some people who have ‘friends in high places’. It was terrible. My hands just turned to rubber. I had recently lost an amazing job opportunity just hours before that I had worked 2 months to land, and I just couldn’t shake that pain while I was playing. Unfortunately, on this particular night, a ton of important people just happened to be there watching me, and OF COURSE that was the night I bombed. Just 2 weeks prior, I played at the same venue in Los Angeles and massively won over the crowd. I couldn’t believe that 2 weeks later, I would bomb so hard in the exact same venue. The biggest problem for me: 2 weeks ago, no one important was watching. Last night, important people were watching. I tried as hard as I could to relax and just play the way I normally do, but I was nervous and depressed from my life’s recent events, and I just couldn’t play at my normal level. Afterwards, most of the people in the venue ignored and avoided me, and the one’s that didn’t gave me the classic “you bombed” line of, “nice job tonight”. This is a hard one to explain, because you have to actually hear the person say it. Sometimes, “nice job tonight” is a serious compliment. But it was clear last night, from the people who said this to me, that they were just trying to not hurt my feelings and be nice. On top of losing the job I was hoping for, and bombing in front of people I have been hoping to play in front of for a year now, it was HAAAAARRRRRDD. DAMN! It was like being stabbed in the heart with a knife when I left the venue. I spoke with one of these ‘higher’ individuals who was at the show last night today, however, and he said, “you totally didn’t bomb. And feeling like you failed in front of your heroes is actually a necessary step, that if you can get back up on the horse afterwards from, is exactly what you need to make you great. Don’t give up. You have many more opportunities to come.” Joe Rogan always says on his podcast to that if you want to get good at comedy, you have to get good at handling yourself when you bomb. Thanks for this excellent article. It warmed my spirit and made my day.

  3. Wow. Honestly, it’s comments like this that make me glad that I write. It’s brave of you to share your story with such personal details. It serves several purposes:

    1. Hopefully, it’s cathartic for you. (And I agree with what said higher-up told you. He makes an interesting point about bombing in front of your heroes. As was said so eloquently in Batman Begins, “Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves back up.”

    2. This sort of dialogue is helpful to the readers and further serves to illustrate the importance of learning to deal with failure.

    3. You make my blog more meaningful and inflate my ego. Ha ha… But seriously (folks), thank you, Tommy.

    Feel free to post when your next gig is and perhaps we can come check you out sometime. Break a leg!

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