If you stay in one place the days after a show or a weekend of shows, it is not uncommon to get recognized in public as a comic. Even when I was just hosting weekends in Buffalo, people would sometimes see me out at a restaurant or pass me on the street and say, "Hey! We saw you at Helium!"
As a comic at any level, it's one of those things that you pretend isn't a big deal. Sometimes you even pretend it's an inconvenience. You have that moment of celebrity and think to yourself, "Jeez, I can’t even go to Walgreens without someone bothering me."
In reality, you love it. It's one of the reasons I was drawn to comedy in the first place. To them, you do hold some celebrity status. Along with a couple hundred other people, they gathered, paid money, sat down, and you made them laugh.
For at least a brief moment in their lives, you were the most important person in the room, and it's a cool feeling when the first thing someone identifies you as is a comic.
After hundreds of people saw me in Raleigh and Durham last weekend, I had my eye out this week for people who might want to say hello and shake my hand. I made a few new friends in passing, but it didn't go down the way I expected.
On Wednesday, I was sitting in a coffee shop, working on my laptop. A guy sat in a chair a few feet away, almost facing me, and I could tell he was about to say something to me. After fidgeting and building up some courage, he started, "Hey, can I ask you something?"
"Here it comes, "I thought. "Yeah, sure."
"Have you ever been on Transit Road?"
"What?" I responded, somewhat confused. But then I looked down and remembered I was wearing a t-shirt that had Buffalo written across the front.
"My ex-wife is from there. Boy I sure miss that Charlie the Butcher."
We talked for a few minutes. Apparently neither he nor his ex-wife had ever heard of Brian Herberger the comedian.
A couple hours later I was at the grocery store. Another lone gentleman, about my age, approached me quickly from halfway down an empty aisle.
"Hey! Hey!" he shouted, with a smile, as he got closer to me. "Did you hear about Tyrod? The Bills got him to restructure his deal."
Wow. Where am I? Wegmans?
"Ha. Yeah. That's awesome," I said. We talked Bills football for a moment, and I considered buying a hoodie to cover up this shirt.
Saturday was St. Patrick's Parade day in Raleigh. I wasn't expecting anything close to our obscene mass of thousands that we normally get for parade day back in Buffalo, but there was a pretty good turnout. We were sure to see plenty of people. My fiancee and I ran into some friends and went to a few different bars. A whole week had gone by since my big shows and not one person had come up to say they saw me on stage. Finally, a guy came running out of a bar just as we passed by on the sidewalk.
“Dude! Dude! I love the hat man. Go Sabres. My buddy and I are from West Seneca.”
My shirt didn’t give me away this time, but I didn’t even realize that the green backwards hat I was wearing had a small Sabres logo on it. He spotted it through the window and came running.
Being recognized is fun, but I learned that if you’re expecting it, then it probably isn’t going to happen. At the same time, having people chase you down or stop in their tracks to ask you if you’re from Buffalo is pretty cool, too. But it will be nice to be home next week when I can wear a Sabres hat or a Bills hoodie and just go about my normal business.
*Look back at Brian's stand-up journal:
- Part I: A funny guy from Buffalo tries to make it in stand-up
- Part II: Bad waffles, too much laughter and other tales from Albany
- Part III: Starting over every day and getting laughs from the Pledge
- Part IV: When life becomes a distraction from comedy
- Part V: Cats, burps, a fiancee and other comedy material
- Part VI: Small crowd, free Mookie and 40 shades of grout
- Part VII: Finding peace and solace at Wal-Mart, and not the beach
- Part VIII: Packing in comedy shows as a date with Shea's looms
Brian is writing weekly about his stand-up life, culminating in his March 25 appearance at Shea's. Visit buffalonews.com each week to follow along.