John Porter teaches stand-up comedy at Virginia Commonwealth University, but his education came from 15 years playing venues all over Virginia. One such learning experience happened at a Def Comedy-style club in Lynchburg, where most of the jokes told were dramatically different from his family-friendly material.
“When I was introduced, I attacked the stage to thunderous indifference,” Porter recalls. “There’s a cliché about hearing crickets chirp when you bomb. In this case, the crickets were so embarrassed that they actually left the club.” But after the show, several patrons thanked him for not pandering to the crowd. The lesson for Porter: “Bombing is temporary; a little bit of dignity, however, goes a long way.”