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5 Minutes of silence / Erik Angel

Updated: Sep 21, 2022


The lights dimmed, the host stood on the stage and everyone in the room, maybe 12 to 14 young people clapped their hands. It was a small comedy room in the back of a bar, in MacDougal Street in New York city, a street that became the capital of comedy in the area, after the Comedy Cellar became a legendary club. I got there half an hour earlier, paid 5 dollars and waited for my first comedy open mic in the US to start. The host on the stage tried to warm up the room. He explained that he put all the notes we wrote our names on, in a bucket, and each time he would take out 3 notes, and the names he would read, would go on stage, one after the other. Each one of them will do 5 minutes of comedy. At 4 he will show them the light in his phone, and they will have a minute to wrap it up. Today I understand how brave I was. To do comedy I feel you have to be brave every single time, but in that case, I went on stage for the first time in a different country in my second language, with 5 minutes of comedy that I didn’t have. I thought I did, many of the people around me thought, but we weren’t even close. I waited for my time and watched mostly crap. Then I didn’t know that this is part of the charm and magic in open mics- to listen to terrible not funny jokes. After 40 minutes I heard my name coming out from the bucket. I went on stage and started to practice for the first time, my Falafel English comedy act.

Silence registered all around. I talked, I said, I tried, I hoped, I explained but nothing happened. Quiet. Crickets we call it in our world, because the room is so quiet, that you can hear the Crickets. After maybe two and a half minutes I mentioned Wonder Woman, and I heard for the first time a soft chuckle. Today I realize how brave I was because I just kept going, five whole minutes, I just kept going until my time was up. Today there is no way I will stand on stage with such a quiet room in front of me for five long minutes. I am not in the Ted talk business. I came here to make you laugh, and if the plan I came up with doesn't work, I'll try something else, I'll talk to the audience, I'll improvise, I'll try to find a direction that will get me into a groove. There I just spoke into empty space and almost nothing landed. The light came, my five minutes ended with weak applause from the audience. I returned to my chair and sat quietly in the dark, trying to understand what actually happened.

That was the opening signal for a long, fascinating, difficult, exciting, addicting, happy and depressing journey into the intricacies of the comedy world in the United States and around the world. A journey that became a way of life, a journey that includes lots of adventures, insights and unbelievable experiences, that from now on I will share with you in this blog. Thank you for joining to my ride.

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