Diary of a Gotham Comedy Live Appearance
Part of AXS TV’s "Thursday Night Laughs" lineup is Gotham Comedy LIVE, which showcases the country's best comics as they perform at Gotham Comedy Club. Recently, one of those outstanding stand-ups was Jocelyn Chia, a Manhattan Comedy School graduate whose appearance on the show was a hit. She told us all about the experience, one she considers “a real highlight of my career.”
Being featured on the show was a goal Jocelyn set for herself two years before. Finally, her agent called to say they wanted her. With just three days to prepare, Jocelyn ran through her set on mics as often as she could. That meant calling in favors for a lot of shows. Most producers and club bookers were extremely kind, though, squeezing her in at the last minute to prepare for her new gig.
“I had a freak-out moment when one bit, which usually hits hard, just died one night,” Jocelyn recalls. Since it was at the last show before her AXS appearance, she considered changing the material. She kept it in, however, thanks to the advice of veteran comic Michael Harrison, who told her that was a mistake he’d made before. He recommended she trust material that had worked so often, and to deliver it with confidence.
“I’m grateful he knocked some sense into me, because I ended up doing the bit the way I had done it hundreds of times before. It absolutely killed,” Jocelyn reports.
There was other excitement in those frantic days. Jocelyn’s friend Barbara Eisen, a stylist, was eager to dress her for her TV debut. Barbara recruited designer Heike Jarick, but with the last-minute booking, Jocelyn didn’t get to see the dresses until right before show time. She arrived armed with a back-up outfit of her own, but one of Heike’s chic offerings fit (with the help of Barbara’s expert pinning work). Jocelyn wore that little blue number on stage.
“Having a designer sponsor my dress, and a stylist dress me for the show, was a thrill,” Jocelyn says. “I felt like a celebrity.”
She was nervous before going on stage, but the producer reminded her simply to do what she’d done thousands of times before. That gave her a confidence boost.
“That's when it hit me,” Jocelyn says. “To have gotten to this point, three years in, having been on stage pretty much every night—sometimes multiple times a night—it was fair to say it had been a thousand times.” She adds that there’s always some nervousness before a performance, but the feeling disappears the moment she’s on stage, being completely present with the audience.
After the show, Jocelyn felt a sense of elation. Her entire set went over without a hitch, and she got a great response from the crowd. What’s more, William Shatner was the host, which she describes—as would any sentient being—as a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
A perfectionist about her work, Jocelyn told us the set went almost perfectly: "I say it went 90 percent as well as it could have. It was like ‘I cannot believe I really did this!’”
The AXS show was followed by Jocelyn experiencing “a high for days,” a hallmark of well-performed stand-up. Now she also has a TV credit to her name, which she reports has helped open more doors in the industry.
“This was an incredible experience, and I am super-grateful to have done it,” she says.
Jocelyn was one of five MCS grads who have appeared on Gotham Comedy LIVE. Her experience, and those of Charles McBee, Chloe Hillard, Ashley Gavin, and Ashley Morris, prove that the courses’ professional comedy training can have a tremendous impact on your career.