Comedians At Riot LA Fest Tell Us About Their Biggest Stage Bombs And Other Comedic Memories

Commencing this weekend is the Third Annual Riot LA Comedy Festival, bringing together a slew of improv and stand up. We corralled a few of the comedians performing in this weekend’s festival to divulge some of their comedic memories, obsessions, and upcoming ventures.

Biggest Stage Bomb

Kumail Nanjiani: I was doing a show in Chicago. I started the set and it wasn’t going great. I did all my best material right in the beginning so five minutes in I was out of all my best material and I had another six minutes left. I knew that anything else I was going to say was going to be worse than what they’ve already seen, which they didn’t like anyway. That was brutal. Like a punch in the gut.

Lauren Lapkus: I remember one show at iO in 2005. We were all crawling on the floor like cats. It was really bad and then somebody broke the 4th wall during that and we didn’t know if we should keep being cats or not. The fun thing [in improv] is you’re not in it alone if you’re bombing. It’s really everybody bombing or it’s not happening.

Baron Vaughn: I was the emcee [for a show in New Jersey] and I was supposed to do 15 minutes. I was doing so badly that I completely lost track of time. This audience had no interest in what I was saying. In fact, I remember hearing forks drop. I was a young black kid and these were a bunch of middle-aged white people who were having dinner, and they didn’t want to hear anything that I was talking about.

Kurt Braunohler: There’s this one show Kristen [Schaal] and I did where we had been hired to do a corporate gig and we planned our half-hour set. The gig turned out to be in a hotel conference room. There were only eight people there and there wasn’t really a stage. When we started doing our sketches,a woman in the front row audibly said ‘Oh, this is terrible.’ We then had to continue to perform for a half hour.

Matt Braunger: I basically started doing open-mic and then started my own show at a bar. The first night we did was packed-out with all our friends and then a bunch of people who came to town. I had an amazing set and it gave me that false confidence of it’s always going to be like this. Then next week I just ate my own dick. [It was] this feeling like everyone in this room hates me.

Childhood Obsessions

Kumail Nanjiani: I was obsessed with video games and movies as a kid. That’s still what I’m obsessed with now.