The first time I ever did standup was an open mic at a place called Brainwash Cafe in San Francisco. It was a laundromat/deli/cafe, so naturally, a perfect place to also pack full of depressed 20-something comedians on a Wednesday night.
As I nervously began my 3-minute set to a room full of people not paying attention, I got what everyone before me got. Silence. Then, as I started to wrap up, a voice from the back of the room broke the silence. “YOU NOT FUNNY!” It was a 6,000-year-old Japanese lady folding laundry at the back table, heckling me in broken English. “YOU QUIT! YOU BAD!” She got more laughs than anyone all night.
I left the stage humiliated. As I grabbed my jacket on the way out and prepared to quit comedy forever, the old lady softly called to me as I passed her. I thought maybe she was going to apologize or offer me some elderly wisdom. Nope. Just one last “Hey, you not funny.”
I think about her every day.
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