This past Monday was the 30th birthday of the guy who runs Corridor Comedy Club, Nick Aluotto.  I feel a certain loyalty to him and the club because it’s where I started. It’s also the place where I feel a part of the ‘family’ of San Marcos (and surrounding communities) comedians.

This past week was sort of rough for the two of us – due to some errors in communication, we ended up being really frustrated with each other. But I wanted to make a bit of a surprise for him this week. I couldn’t really throw a surprise party for him, so I did the next best thing.

The open mic is held every Wednesday in the lounge at J’s Bistro. Corridor has been around just over a year – a year and a month. Usually there’s a fair turnout of comics and audience. Last night, we had quite a few comics, and a pretty good audience. Thanks to the cooperation of both comics and audience, I was able to pull off a great practical joke – AND – keep him from knowing it was me (until another comic told him).

I was a bit worried at first. I was able to talk to all the comics no problem, and they were able to tell their friends too. That part was really easy. And all of them thought it was a great idea. Well, most. One guy thought it wasn’t a great idea, the other thought it would be a bad idea. The hard part was getting the people who were just there, just ‘true’ audience members. I couldn’t just walk over to those people and let them know what was going on. And I couldn’t figure out just how to get that info to them.

I thought I could get the host to say something if Nick was out of the room. I had it orchestrated. I told the host to announce it, and I got another comic, Anthony Torino, to take him into the bar and talk to him – distract him. And it was going great. Until the host slipped up and just introduced the next comic.

I wanted to just run up on stage real quick interrupt the set, and say what I wanted to say, but I refrained.

On try two, I was trying to keep Nick occupied, uh, not in a military style, but just keep him out of the lounge. It sort of worked, but then it didn’t. The host, Aaron McDavis, started telling the crowd the plan, but Nick wandered in. Harrison Drover saw this and tried to warn Aaron, but not in a cool, quick way. It was more like this – Harrison saw Nick coming in and then turned and whisper yelled at Aaron to STOP. Or QUIT. Or NO. or something. I was behind Nick, and this is what I saw –

Aaron was in the middle of the room, talking to the crowd. When Harrison told him to stop, he did. He did it with the look of a guy that just got caught taking money from the “help a cripple” jar. With a big “Uhhh” Aaron went back on stage. Nick was a little concerned, and asked what was going on… And everyone froze up and did a “Nothing” sort of answer. WORST. IMPROV. EVER!

Things went on, and thankfully Nick stepped out for a bit, and I was able to keep an eye out. Aaron was able to quickly tell the audience the plan and they were all on board. BOOM it was on! Fortunately, Aaron was able to do this one comic before Nick’s turn. Whew! Talk about close!

I suppose I should let you in on the prank. I had told everyone that when Nick starts his set, that give him no response. No laugh, no boo, nothing. Then, when he gets frustrated, we’d sing Happy Birthday.

We all clapped and cheered him getting on stage. Then for next three minutes, he told jokes. And no one made a sound. NOTHING. I knew people were really holding back, because I could see some people biting their hands and covering their mouths. At about 3 mins and 15 seconds, he asks what’s going on. Not frustration so much, but just enough to push it. So Aaron and I lead the singing, and everyone joins in.

The results were awesome. I was so happy that it all worked out. I was sweating it, because if anyone didn’t know, or someone broke the silence, it’d be over. The fallback was that we’d just sing happy birthday at some point.

I went on after Nick and therefore was able to avoid him for a few minutes. At some point, Nick came into the lounge and said something. I could tell he was happy. Apparently Ethan Moore had spilled the beans. Those around him at the time said he laughed so hard. I wished I could have seen that.

All in all, it came off great, everyone enjoyed it, and Nick ended up having a nice surprise.