2003-06-07T00:06-0700 The former pissed-off audience
Feh. Just trooped up to SF to do a panel discussion at Designing User Experiences 2003 where, I may tell you, I completely sucked.
No-one to blame: the person organising the panel had a good idea to bring some outsiders to talk, and also wanted it to be a bit controversial. So we were all asked to say something controversial. So we did so. But it all came out wrong, and consequently we faced an audience of people who'd paid good money not to be insulted, all sitting there thinking "who *are* these strangers saying these rude and ignorant things about my chosen profession?"
A good question, because I at the same time I was looking out from the stage asking "Who are these people I'm talking to? What am I supposed to say that's interesting to them again? And why do they look so angry?" By that time, of course, the former audience had lost all sympathy to their formerly interesting panellists and it spiralled downhill from there.
A very, very, very long time ago - almost as long as the panel seemed to last today - I used to do stand-up. I quit that because I hated dying on stage.
If you only see someone do comedy live on stage once in your life, and you see them bomb, you (naturally) assume they're like that all the time. It's really hard to believe someone is funny when you've seen a room full of people stare at them like they were the Nuremberg Trial defence team.
Even when I was good, and had a run of performances where I was the cleverest funniest person in the universe, I'd always be thinking back to the hundred people who'd last seen me suck goat's cocks.
I knew they were out there. They'd be like a missing squadron who went out one night and never returned, wandering like ghosts through the streets, slowly festering with hatred at the 2.50UKP of theirs I wasted that night, my ignorance of my own material and shoddy sense of timing eating away at their poor broken hearts.
Eventually, they die young. They go to Heaven, and tell all the angels how boring I was. God turns against me. When I die, I get sent to Hell. There I met all the people who had thought I was all right - all of whom had been thrown out of Heaven for lying so unconvincingly in my defence. They, naturally, had a really good reason to hate me now, and anyway, had heard my act before.
DUX 2003 was a bit like that. Me and Quinn (who was on the panel too) were both in the same state. We hadn't really worked out who the audience was, and we're both a bit rusty at public speaking. Also, we've had three months fairly intensive dialogue coaching in going "goo goo goo goo goo issy waddy baby!", which may have influenced our normally punchy style.
I think we managed to pull back some credibility in the end. I'm pretty good at damage control. Quinn has a background in bad stand-up gigs as well. I didn't cry when that drunken woman in Edinburgh climbed onto a table and started singing the "Yoooor shite" song to me, so I'm not going to cry when the man from Microsoft says that we're doing his whole industry a disservice. No, no, I sucked up to him instead. Mmm, five minutes on why Microsoft rules. Yeah, that was straight from the heart. No panic in my jellied bloodstream there.
You know what I wanted to say? I wanted to say: Hellooo former audience. I'm so with you on this. If I was sitting where you are now, I'd think I was a bit rubbish too: blurting out unconnected points, making some rather forced jokes. Squeaking a bit.
But honestly, we're not this stupid. We think about this stuff all the time. If I had ten minutes with each of you, I think maybe I could explain what was going on, and after three drinks, maybe a meal I will generously offer to pay for, you'd even agree with me.
I've got a list of attendee's names here. Maybe I can mail them all, offer them a compensatory voucher or something. Did you go to DUX 2003? Why then, beers on me! Or green tea, or gingko biloba, whatever you designer people drink.
Sigh. It's no use. I can feel them out there. Plotting.
you know i'm going to be very upset if this is the first google hit for DUX 2003