ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: My So-Called Stand-Up Career

By Seth Rudetsky
26 Nov 2012

Seth and Rob McClure
Photo by Robb Johnston
What is the point of that story? Besides bragging and a desperation to make the deadline for a weekly column? It's that if you fail, you have to try again! I could have completely given up, but I knew that if I kept practicing, I would get better. Another message is, don't take in the comments from the negative mother-effers around you. I could have listened to the other comics — whose message was a clear and concise "You are not funny" — but I ignored them because I knew I was. Another message is: Don't be afraid to fail. I compare it to babies; when a baby is crawling and decides it wants to walk, it doesn't think, "Hm….I want to walk, but when I fall down it's going to be so embarrassing. I totally don't want people to see that. I think I'll keep crawling." No. A baby doesn't care how stupid it looks because it knows it will eventually walk! On a side note, just in case you're wondering, the Grand prize was my own show at the Duplex (which I never wound up doing…I wonder if the expiration date lasts past 16 years) and $50, which I spent on a pair of jeans from the Gap. And just in case you wonder if I think of myself as the so-called success story from the Duplex, let me say that one of my fellow comics who did the weekly 3-minute set (with the red light at 2 minutes) was a young and really funny Zach Galifianakis. His story ends with a bigger finish than mine. And a bigger bank account. And actual success.

Broadway-wise, I interviewed cast members from Chaplin at Seth's Broadway Chatterbox and it was super fun. Michael McCormick (who plays a variety of roles in the show including Mack Sennett) told me that he did the tour and Broadway companies of Oliver! when he was a kid! I asked for a stage mishap and he gave an amazing domino-effect story. In the show, Bill Sikes (the villain) climbs up a ladder and gets shot. When he's shot, he's so high up that the audience can't see him and a fake body falls to the ground. Michael said that during one show, Bill got to the top of the ladder and the shot rang out as usual. But the actor playing Bill had been drinking between shows and he wound up being so unsteady that before the fake body fell, the actor himself let go of the ladder and plunged to the ground! Thankfully, he wasn't hurt but right after that, Bill's dog is supposed to come out and look for him. Well, that night the dog came out all right, but decided to use his foray onstage as a substitute walk. That's right, he literally pooped in the middle of the stage! There wasn't enough time to clean it up or to warn the cast, so as the kids came on for the next scene they were all stepping in it. And, the dog had done it while standing on the part of the stage that was a turntable so when it started spinning, the dog's "present" got into the grooves and the stagehands couldn't remove it for days. Please sir, I don't want some more.

This week's Chatterbox (details at SethsBroadwayChatterbox.com) features one of my favorite composing teams: Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire. I'm obsessed with so many of their songs. Watch this Playbill "Obsessed!" video of Liz Callaway revealing the way her signature song from Baby used to end.



The most amazing news? The Patti LuPone concert is about to go up on SethTV.com. You will not believe how amazing she sounds! And come see Gypsy of the Year on Monday and Tuesday. Go to BroadwayCares.org for tix.

And if you're Down South in Louisville, KY, on Saturday night, come see me do Seth's Big Fat Broadway Show! Tix at . And now, peace out and go work out that Thanksgiving bloat!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)