“Awkward Moments” is a monthly column that asks comedians, “what do you do when…” In this installment, member of the N Crowd Mike Connor tells all about being sick during a show. (Not for the faint of heart, mind, stomach or….sphincter.)
“You’re hosting the first half of the show tonight, Mike. I’m hosting the second,” Ben said handing me the set list for that Friday night’s N Crowd performance, “Are you okay? You look a little pale.”
“Just tired,” I said. It’d been a long week at work and I’d been feeling run down all day.
The audience settled into their seats and I introduced the N Crowd. They rushed onstage and the show began. As the host of a short-form show, my job was to stand and greet the audience, then stand and explain the games, then stand and watch the performers. In other words, it involved a lot of standing. About halfway through my stint as host, my legs grew sore. I found myself leaning against the wall to give my tired muscles a little rest. Standing was becoming increasingly difficult. But the ache didn’t stop there.
Usually, the blazing stage lights and the bio-heat of fifty audience members combine to make our theater quite sultry. That night, however, my weary body shivered like frightened fawn.
As B.J., one of our N Crowders, finished a game and walked past me, I whispered to him, “Hey man, we gotta turn on the heat. It’s not fair to make paying customers sit through this chill.”
B.J. cocked a skeptical eyebrow at me. “You’re cold,” he asked wiping sweat from his brow.
“Yeah,” I said, “I’m freezing.”
“You’re the only one,” he said, and I realized that all of the other N Crowders were perspiring lustily.
My knees grew increasingly weaker as the show went on. I clenched my teeth to keep them from chattering in front of the audience. My head felt like it was full of soup and my belly like it was being excavated by a red-hot earthworm.
Finally, we reached the midway point of the set list when I could turn hosting duties (and more importantly, standing duties) over to Ben, however, I was still expected to stay on stage and perform in the games. Even though I was cold, sweat poured out of me. My palms were clammy and my vision was getting blurry. The aching in my legs had become more generalized, spreading to roughly every major muscle group in my body. I leaned over to Ben.
“Hey, man,” I said, “When we send someone out of the room for a guessing game, I’m gonna go with them.”
“Okay,” said Ben, “Where are you going?”
“Dunno. I think I’m gonna just go die somewhere,” I said, “Can you have someone take my place in the rest of the games.”
He looked sympathetically at my wan face. “Sure, Mikey,” he said.
Without calling attention to it, I snuck off stage between games and limped downstairs to an unused dressing room. I draped a coat over myself as a blanket and splayed out on the floor.
In no time, I was asleep.
Sleep didn’t last long, however. The earthworm had built a little hovel for himself and now invited his hungry family over for a rowdy party. Somehow I mustered my remaining strength and hoisted my limp body upright. I stumbled out of the room down the hallway into the bathroom and onto the toilet. “One way or another,” I thought bearing down on my sphincter, “This earthworm and his family are coming out.”
“One way or another” was right. Except that the earthworm chose “another”. I didn’t have time to zip up my pants. Instead I wheeled around and stuck my face where my ass had so recently been. The vomiting had begun. First came my dinner, followed by some pretzels I’d eaten as a snack. Next came my lunch and the coffee I’d enjoyed with breakfast. Just when I thought there was nothing left, my stomach churned up some viscous, yellow bile that tasted like sidewalk-chalk.
I stood, grew instantly dizzy, and fell backward catching myself on the opposite wall of the cramped loo. I had made quite a mess in and around the bowl. Weakly, I cleaned up my filth. Then I glanced at myself in the mirror and noticed the toxic waste which my beard had sopped up as I had been puking. I cleaned my face and my hands, zipped up my pants, and stepped out of the bathroom just as I heard Ben’s voice saying from inside the theater, “Thank you very much everybody! We’ve been the N Crowd! Come back and see us again soon!”
Hilary Kissinger is a writer and improviser splitting time between New York and Philadelphia. She performs with Philly Improv Theater House Team Davenger and writes about movies for FilmMisery.com. Chat with her on Twitter @HilaryKissinger.
What Awkward Moment in comedy would you like to see Philly’s comedians tackle? Ask “what do you do when…” by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.