Stand-up comedians, whether they're titans of the industry with HBO specials or aspiring amateurs curious about the artform, know what it's like to get nervous. The clichés are often true: Palms sweat, pacing occurs backstage and the question "Is this bit funny?" constantly swirls in a comic's head.
Sometimes, even some vomit hits the floor.
Last night at Jilly's in Pikesville, first-time stand-up comic Ayanna Marsh "puked in her own lap" multiple times as she waited to take the stage, says T. Brad Hudson, creator of the Drink Till We're Funny comedy show. Hudson found out about the incident from fellow comics who were with Marsh in the waiting area.
"There was this giant effort to get her kind of cleaned up," Hudson said. "The funny thing about comedians is, yeah, they were grossed out but every comic that went up before her and after her was making puke jokes. It smelled and it was gross but we all have a sense of humor. Every comic up there could empathize with her."
Given Jilly's configuration, the crowd — which included approximately 10 friends and family members of Marsh, according to Hudson — was unaware of the incident. A friend in the audience helped clean Marsh up with "four rolls of paper towels," Hudson said.
Marsh was determined to perform even after she threw up. Instead of discreetly finding the back exit, Marsh took the stage, still seated in her chair, and performed 10 minutes worth of material. Hudson compared it to a therapy session, saying Marsh's topics concentrated on parenting and her family.
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Hudson, a stand-up comic who created Drink Till We're Funny six years ago, says Marsh — despite performing without shoes and with vomit at her feet — performed fine.
"She didn't bomb, really," he said. "She got a couple of laughs. She did OK despite the other stuff. I've seen a lot worse first-timers in my career."
Hudson says the experience is one of the craziest he's seen in his career. It's the type of story he hopes to capture while filming an upcoming reality web-series called "Open Mic: Life of a Comic." Footage will be captured during the "Drink Till We're Funny" tour, which features Hudson and seven other, mostly-Baltimore-based comics. The tour kicks off with a free show the Ottobar on Saturday. He adds that the film crew plans to record the event.
Hudson hopes to eventually sell a TV network on the premise. His thinking: If there are shows on pawn shops, tow-truck companies and other non-glamorous jobs, why wouldn't a show on up-and-coming stand-up comedians work as well?
"Why not standup comics? Why can't we have a show? We're actually funny," Hudson said.