Performing for the Living Dead – Jessica Kirson – Unmic’d


– A lot of them
were in wheelchairs. A lot had oxygen. There were people on gurneys. A lot had the girl with them. It’s like “Night of
the Living Dead”. They’re just… (jazzy music) Hi, this Jessica Kirson, and this is a story about the
time I bombed for dead people. One of the worst gigs I
ever did was in Florida. I perform a lot in Florida
for very old people. Most of them are 80, 90. Some have passed. And I have to make them laugh
and they don’t look happy. There’s just hundreds of
people with this face. They just stare
at you like that. Just judging. It’s very hard. “This isn’t funny.” They actually yell out a lot. “What is this?” “Who hired her?” “Who’s this clown?” The place sat 2,000 people. But about 350 showed up. I got to explain, they walk in, it’s like “Night of
the Living Dead”. They’re just, a lot of them where
in wheelchairs. A lot had oxygen. There were people on gurneys. A lot had the girl with them. Normally they get there
at about three p.m. for an eight o’clock show. And they have to talk about
where they’re sitting. “I’m not sitting
on the end seat. “Let Herman sit on the end seat. “He has the erectile problem. “His penis fell off, “let him sit on the end.” So I have to do these shows and they’re already
really difficult. I mean, it’s like
performing at a Shiva. Some of you might not
know what that is. It’s when you just eat a lot and pretend like you
care about someone. So I did the show. It was empty, which
is very depressing. You have to imagine
this huge room and there’s only 350 people. And like I said, about, I don’t know, 42 of them had passed. So I already knew it was
gonna be a nightmare. And there were four male
comics on before me. And then I was on last, which doesn’t work with standup. It doesn’t work for a woman
to go up last after four guys. Especially with those people. “Who is she? “Is that someone’s
girlfriend or wife? “Why is she standing there? “Did someone leave a shoe?” I was already tense about this because this is who
came to my show. My three friends from college
from my Jewish sorority, who were like “Oh my god.
“we’re so excited to see you. “You better be funny!” And then Sarah
Silverman texts me. I know this sounds crazy, but
she texts me and she’s like “My father’s coming to
your show at the cemetery.” I’m like “Don’t have him come “because you know it’s
gonna be a nightmare.” And she’s like “Oh, he
gets it, he gets it.” I’m like “Okay. “Why is your dad
coming to my show? “This isn’t even the one
where I take my clothes off “and the ping pongs
and the whole thing. “Your dad should come to that “where I can just
shoot a ping pong “and then sign it for him. “It’s merch.” And then my grandmother was
coming with her companion. It’s like a dog. And then she
brought four widows. Just this group of old
women and her boyfriend. I think his name was Cancer. So I go up, and from the second
I went up there, it was a nightmare. The only laugh I
got was a cough. Sometimes, when you’re doing these
shows and you get a cough, it means they’re enjoying it. You just have to know that’s
a laugh with that crowd. (coughs) means that a
punchline really worked. Or if someone just
goes (groans), they’re trying to say
“This is really funny. “But I’m dying so I
can’t really laugh “because I may just drop dead
right now during the show.” Or they’ll actually sometimes
say “Now that was funny.” That’s a common thing. What do you mean that was? You don’t even know
where you are right now. You think you’re the
next one to bowl. I did the show. Nightmare. Tried to go into the crowd. Nothing. Tried to do Jewish stuff
just to make them laugh. Nothing, just everyone staring. People start walking out. Which, again, takes forever. Takes them five minutes
to get out of the seat. I’ve been doing this
a very long time. It was one of the
worst shows I ever did. There was nothing I could do. It was horrible. Half the crowd
walked out or crawled or just keeled over. I just wanted someone
to acknowledge it. ‘Cause I was like
“That was horrific.” So I get offstage and I
talk to the male comics, who were like “Whatever,
man, it was fine. “It was totally fine. “You did a great job.” I’m like “No, I didn’t! “That was horrible! “Can someone tell me
how horrible that was?” And then Sarah Silverman’s
father comes and he’s like “You did a good job. “They were a hard crowd, “but you did a really good job.” I didn’t. I didn’t do a good job. So, again now, someone’s
telling me it was okay and it wasn’t okay. I knew it wasn’t okay. And then my sorority sisters
come back they’re like “Oh my god, “that was the funniest
thing I’ve ever seen. “That was like I could
not stop laughing. “That was so funny.” I’m like “Are you on acid? “That was no okay.” And then they just
started taking snacks from the green room. We take food whenever we can in case we get taken away again. And then my
grandmother walks in. Moving slow with this, just the cast of “Cocoon”. So they all walk in one after
the other with those faces. Just walking in. And I’m like, I can’t even believe I have
to deal with this right now after what happened. But I still wanted someone to
acknowledge how bad it was. I don’t even know if these
people were alive or not. One woman walked in
and her hand fell off and then her uterus came out. And then none of them
are even smiling. They just saw a show. I don’t even know them and
they’re looking at me like this. And my grandmother
literally looks at me and she goes “That was horrible! “What the hell happened to you? “You embarrassed me in
front of all my friends! “I’ve never seen you so bad! “What the hell
were you thinking? “I came all the way to the show “and you were horrific!” And I was so grateful that
she was honest with me, because it was horrible
and I gave her a huge hug. Finally, someone’s telling
me how bad this was. And then all of these old
women just took all the snacks. And they all started
fingering each other. And I was like “This is hot.” (jazzy music)

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