That was all I could think about when my wife first asked me: That couch.
That couch full of drunken, stoned Arby's employees that I had the temerity to assume would be my captive audience. That couch full of blank stares as I launched into what I was sure would be my moment. That couch full of apathy as I attempted to work my comedy magic. That couch full of an audience that could have cared less for my comic stylings.
I never wanted to stand in front of that couch again. Which is why, when my wife asked if I would do five minutes of comedy before her play at the Oktoberfest celebration up the street from us, I cringed. Normally, I would allow myself to be introduced as "a funny guy." I have even gone so far as to introduce myself as a "semi-professional comedian." I served as the emcee of my son's elementary school variety show for six straight years. I hosted the opening of the grocery store in our neighborhood a while back. I am the guy they hand the megaphone to when my elementary school needs someone to announce the students of the week. I am, as they might say, accustomed to public speaking. I tend to pepper those moments of public speaking with witty banter and amusing anecdotes. I still want to be that funny guy.
Which is why I took the gig. I wrote some notes, ideas for bits that would relate to the setting. German. Beer. Polkas. Beer. I started to build on those notes, crafting a solid five minutes that would not only provide some laughs but also serve as an adequate introduction to the reason everyone was there. I was the opening act. Not the headliner. I mentioned this in my remarks.
"I'm not Van Halen," I told the crowd, "I'm the guy who comes out and plays the accordion before Van Halen."
And I said some other things that the beer-soaked crowd found mildly amusing. I focused on one guy who was sitting three tables back. I saw him laugh. A few times. And best of all, he wasn't sitting on a couch.