By Patrick Hickey, Jr.
Brooklyn comedian Hector Luis was the first person in line in front of Caroline’s comedy club on 49th Street recently, waiting for a two-minute audition and a chance to win “New York’s Funniest Stand-Up” award.
With auditions starting at 11 in the morning, Luis had plenty of time to think about his performance, which if successful, would give him a chance to perform at the New York Comedy Festival November 5.
“I got here a little after five a.m.,” said Luis. “It’s not a big deal, though. Comedians are used to this. We wait a lot. This business is like having a bad girlfriend. Every time you go to leave her, she makes you stay and you take the punishment.”
Waiting for six hours to perform for a measly two minutes, Luis eventually saw the line for the first round of the competition amass in number to somewhere around 150 attention-hungry comedians only 60 of whom would make the first cut. There were all kinds of performers from ukulele players to impersonators and Luis knew that some of the best young comedians were out to strut their stuff. But he was still confident he’d do just fine.
“I just have to go up on do my thing. As the line filled up, everyone started talking and having fun. People kept asking us why were we on line and we were telling them we were waiting for Barry Manilow and Kajagoogoo tickets. Somebody told someone they were waiting for tickets to the next subway series.”
However, while most of the vibrant and wacky personalities were on line outside, the biggest one made his appearance on the inside. Once the auditions began and the first batch of contestants, including Luis and nine other comics, were brought downstairs, the person standing next to Luis on line, comic Daniel Diaz, transformed himself.
Outside, the short and skinny Diaz looked like an aspiring expressionist painter, with long black hair and ripped jeans. But after returning from the restroom he looked like an extra in Dances with Wolves. A Native-American comic, Diaz, garbed in a feathered head-dress and full Indian attire, was ready to perform.
“There are a lot of crappy Native American comics out there,” said Diaz, with a chuckle. “So I’m going to set things straight. There’s a heated debate in the public right now about illegal immigrants. I got news for you; my people have been fighting terrorism since 1492.”
After seeing the way his fellow comedian was dressed, Luis immediately asked Diaz where the rest of the Village People were, inciting a round of laughter among the other contestants.
That kind of banter, Luis said is just part of the job and one of the reasons why it’s so much fun.
“We’re all tortured souls, we seek solace in misery,” said Luis. “It’s a rite of passage. All of us are always waiting on line together and there’s a bond amongst us all. We’re definitely a community of sorts.”
After Diaz’s performance, the resident “Sitting Bull” of comedy was enthusiastic of his performance.
“I think I nailed it,” exclaimed Diaz, running across the club floor, holding his head dress in his hand and spinning, looking more like a runaway bird than a stand-up comedian. “I think I really did a great job.”
While they’ll have to wait to see how they fared against the competition, Luis, who went on right after Diaz was confident he’d be around for at least a little longer.
“I felt good and I made them laugh a few times,” he said. “Now, I just have to get my adrenaline down, I’m not used to going on for only two minutes.”
The wait for the judges’ decision was no laughing matter.