The first comedy competition I entered was in a comedy festival in a sleepy little village in NSW 7 years ago. My wife and I had a baby boy and it was to be our first holiday. Our plan was to stay in a nice resort and I would amaze the locals with my witty wordplay and stage shenanigans.
My heat was at 2pm. I hadn’t performed in the daytime so I was nervous but I trusted my material. Upon entering the venue I saw it was full of hippies and country folk leaning against the walls oozing that small-town charm. And smell. I sat backstage and peeked out to wave at my wife who was sitting with our son looking perplexed (I later learned she’d just found some gravel in her salad). She stood out because she’d washed her hair in the last week. There were also about 40 kids in the front row staring up at the stage with wide eyes and big smiles. I started panicking because my material was a bit rude. Well, not just a bit. It was really filthy so I spent the next couple of minutes removing jokes and was left with about 3 minutes of semi-blue material. My name was called and I walked on stage to moderate applause and a wafting haze of patchouli and incense.
I told my first joke. Silence. The kids stopped smiling. I freaked out and reverted to my crude material. It was horrible. My set ended early and I shame-walked off stage. As I walked to my wife I heard a 7 year old girl ask her father, “Daddy, what’s a hand-job?”