Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gig Etiquette Pt.1 - Freebird!!!

NEVER yell "Freebird!!!" at a live performance. Ever.

You may think you're being funny, but you're actually ruining people's lives.

Seriously. Imagine if each day you went to work, some... person told you the exact same "knock, knock" joke at some point. You don't know exactly when he's going to wander over and destroy your faith in humanity with his sad, pathetic attempt at humor, but it's gonna happen. Might drive you crazy after the 700th time, don't you think?

You're that guy.

Truth of the matter is that I hear this at almost every show I play. This gag is more tired than the "stopping a wedding to tell the bride she should be with me instead" ending of a romantic comedy movie. Notice how the only people who still chuckle at this are the inbred d-bags who yell it?

I've had people call it out who didn't even know the song once they started to hear some of it (because they cheered when I said, "OK", and started to play an obscure Waterdeep track). Someone once was so tactless they called it out before a memorial service I played. I've even had some guys at shows who were so socially retarded they called it out between every single song I played (yes, this has happened WAY more than once).

Stop it. Forever.

For a more humorous insight into this from a gentleman who is also a performing musician, I now leave you with this blog post from my buddy, Les Hodge:

There are some things that will always make me laugh no matter how many times I hear them. It's really rare for a joke to have longevity, because surprise is a keystone of comedy. Nope, it takes a great story, or a running joke that is so funny it hearkens (that's right, I said 'hearkens') you back to the first time you heard/experienced the gag to keep you laughing for an extended period of time. If you're a band you can keep playing your hit song your entire career, but if you're a comedian you have to constantly update your material or no one will pay to see you. Imagine if Letterman was still using the same jokes he used a year ago? Wait, that's a bad example. Anyway, you know what I mean.

So last night, I was playing a show at Crow Creek when it happened

I'm sorry. I had to take a break because I'm laughing just THINKING about it. Right between two songs some guy; some genius... yells out "FREEEBIRD!"




Of course, the entire bar just erupted. There were people on the floor, people were high-fiving, an older gentleman reminisced about how some guy yelled out Freebird at another show he was at... We briefly took a hard look at just tearing down our P.A. and heading home. How were we gonna top that? The people came to be entertained and they got what they paid for. Alas, somehow, we pulled ourselves together and finished our set.

Later, as the Freebird guy was leaving, I gave him an appreciative nod as if to say "Thank you. I know that you weren't the first guy to yell "freebird," and you won't be the last, but every time is unforgettable. Even if we never meet again, tonight is something we will always share."

Your ways are mysterious, Freebird man. How do you make it to so many shows? Is there a meeting every night at 6 pm, where a small group of comedy sultans pour over an Urban Tulsa picking out shows to bless with your golden nugget of hilarity? My gut says no. It's something more... organic than that. Spiritual. You just tucked your dirty polo shirt into your jean shorts, fastened that braided belt, and headed out. You had no idea you'd be the Richard Pryor of Crow Creek Tavern. But sometime after your fifth High-life and your ninth GPC, it welled up inside you... like a fire. And then you let that sweet gem pass out from beneath your sans-irony mustache and into comedy immortality.

I know I speak for every musician I know when I say thank you, and keep em' comin.' We love when you 'help us out.' If laughter truly is the best medicine, you sir are the cure for what ails me.

1 comment: