Every stand-up comedian has a horror story about a time they took to the stage and something awful occurred. Even those that we celebrate as some of the greatest comedians to ever touch the mic have sat down to share a moment that was the worst of their career, but most will say that don’t regret those moments because it helped shape them into the performers they are today.
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Anthony Anderson is known to bring in laughs with his roles, and when he was first getting his start in comedy, the actor said it was a bumpy road. Anthony caught up with The People’s Party with Talib Kweli and talked about the first time he ever tried his hand at stand-up comedy and it was cringe-worthy, to say the least.
“You can never have a good run of comedy when your name is Tasty Tony,” he said. “Tasty Tony the one and only, if there’s another, he’s a phony.” Everyone erupted in laughter. “Regency West, the Comedy Act Theater. All of the greats had gone through there. And everybody was like, ‘You funny, you should get onstage.’ I was like, ‘Okay.’ I never saw myself being a stand-up comic. I’m an actor and I just happen to be funny.”
So, Anthony decided to take a stab at stand-up. “I had my whole support team with me one day and too many people on the list before me. So I didn’t get called to do open mic. The next week, I went nobody could make it, but I was like, that’s cool I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for me. I got there extra early. The first two comics that got up ahead of me were horrible and I heckled them. And I was f*ckin’ hysterical as a heckler.”
Then, his name was called as the audience was still laughing at his heckling jokes. He was unsure if he should actually get up and tell jokes since he was being praised in the audience. Additionally, the room was filled with comedians, a few of which he heckled, so making his way to the stage was like a “dead man walking.”
As soon as he told his first joke, he immediately was targeted. He was pelted with insults so quickly and so harshly that he couldn’t get through any of his jokes. “Literally, 15 seconds, if that, they shut my mic off,” Anthony said. “They were saving me the embarrassment so they shut my mic off.” He tried to continue without the mic, but the venue shut the stage lights off, too.
“So I’m just standing there in darkness as everybody is sh*tting on me, rightfully so,” Anthony admitted. “So, my first time touching a mic onstage, I was onstage maybe 20 seconds and I left.” Watch to him recall the hilarious—and heartbreaking—story below, and make sure to tune in for his full interview on Monday, January 6.