A very long time ago, my sister and I were in New York City and we went to a comedy club on an off night. She was living there at the time and I couldn't think of anything better to do, especially after we were given free tickets by someone near the door. It was very cold January night, so the club was practically empty, maybe sixteen people in a club built for a hundred.
I wasn't sure if they had replaced the headliner at the last minute, but the young long haired comedian was an unknown at the time, but he killed. He acted like he was playing for sixteen thousand souls in an arena instead of the sixteen people who were inside trying to beat the cold.
It was one of the best nights of comedy I had ever seen. The comedian was a then unknown Ray Romano of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame. I'm not saying that Ray Romano got his TV deal because of that night, but rather it was obvious that this man was going to GET a TV deal because of his work ethic.
There have been a handful of others I've seen win over small crowds. Sammy Hagar opened for the band Boston once at the Pit in Albuquerque. I had never heard of him, but he blew Boston off the stage. If memory serves, he climbed up on top of riser and did a guitar solo that still echoes thirty years later.
I've been dragged to see Jay Leno twice. The first time, he did a completely different set from his Tonight show set. He made jokes about Albuquerque as if he had lived here, instead of flying in over the weekend.
The second time I saw him was years later, and he basically copied last night's monologue word for word. I don't think he confused us with the next night's show in Amarillo, but it sure sounded that way.
I've made a vow, no matter where I go, whenever I am giving a presentation, I will be like Ray Romano on that cold empty January night.