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"So...uh, this is sort of a big night for me," Blaine said into the microphone, tapping it twice to test, and pulling it clumsily from the stand. "I'm Blaine Anderson. You may know me as the host around here, but tonight they've decided to give me three whole minutes, and when they told me I was like 'what?!'"
Blaine's over dramatic tone earned a few chuckles from the audience, but for the most part they were all just blinking back at him, waiting for the jokes to start. Some people towards the back seemed more interested in their food than the curly haired main that was now awkwardly pacing about the small stage. "And of course my boss was like, 'like I said, Jim can't come tonight. You're on for three minutes,' just like he had said four seconds before."
The words were coming out of his mouth, but there were a million other things running through his head. Am I being funny? Is it going to be really obvious that I really only have about one minute of comedy prepared? At what point in my career will I start being more interesting than the chicken fingers? God I wish I went on after everyone had already had their two drink minimum.
"I had an epiphany at that point. I realized that I really should start cutting the exaggerated 'what' out of my vocabulary because it's almost never warranted," Blaine continued, shoving the rest of his thoughts to the back of his mind. "Like I was having coffee with a friend yesterday and she told me that she had never seen Titanic, and I realize now, that when I gave her that exaggerated 'what', it was more like when you say that you love something, but really what you mean is 'I want you to be aware that I know what that is.'"
"This guy that I was trying to impress at a bar the other night told me that he made his own Kambucha,and my immediate reaction was 'oh my god I love Kambucha,' but really I was saying, 'oh my god I know what Kambucha is.'" There was another light smattering of laughter, slightly heartier than before, but Blaine staunchly reminded himself that these people are paying for laughter, and not a half smile. "It's not like I'm being swarmed by people telling me truly unbelievable things, 'Blaine, I don't know how to tell you this, but your house has been attacked by a pack of unicorns.' At that point I think I could bring back the 'what?!'"
He glanced at the clock. Still thirty seconds, but close enough. "Alright guys, I guess you're probably sick of my babbling, let's bring on the main event..."
"You seem a bit like you need this," the bartender said sliding a mug of beer towards Blaine. It was his customary post show drink, but he had forgotten all about it, choosing instead to huddle over his note cards at the end of the bar. "You okay, Blaine?"
Blaine finally looked up. Kurt, the bartender, was standing across from him expectantly, wiping his hands on a dish rag he had just been using to wipe down the bar. The first time Blaine had met Kurt, he almost burst out laughing. Turning moments of fear or nerves into a joke was a skill he had learned his senior year of high school, and honed through college. And as far as moments of nervousness go, meeting Kurt was hilarious. The man was stupidly beautiful and Blaine had decided long ago that the foregone conclusion if their relationship was years of cliched pining followed by a messy confession, a rejection, and a night of binge drinking. Blaine was now in the process of attempting to skip all of that, and instead to appreciate their friendship. "Yeah, I'm fine," Blaine responded simply, but he kept going when he saw Kurt's skeptical face. "Okay, I'm as fine as one can be after the train wreck that was that performance."
Kurt scrunched up his face in a sympathetic look, "I thought you were...cute."
Blaine squeezed his eyes shut with his thumb and forefinger, "I tanked, didn't I?"
Kurt busied himself with wiping down the counter to avoid answering for a few seconds, but eventually just said, "yeah, a little bit."
Blaine let out a hallow laugh, but it was good natured, "a lot a bit, but it's okay. I'll keep working on it," Blaine said tucking his cards into his back pocket and taking a sip of his beer. "We can't all be masters of our crafts like you Mr. Bar Tender, a perfect pour as usual." Blaine flirted with an ease that he only seemed to manage with people that he'd already decided were out of his grasp...oh, and middle aged women.
"Crap, that means I've been doing this for too long," Kurt said, pulling off his apron and clocking out before pouring himself a glass of red wine and coming to sit beside Blaine. "I need a real job."
"I'd offer to give you a letter of introduction somewhere, but I fear that I could only help you to become a failing comedian or a telemarketer," Blaine offered with a sigh.
Kurt giggled and smiled down at his drink, "see, you can make me laugh. You're not a total failure as a comedian," Kurt said. "You make me laugh a lot. You should use some of that on stage."
"I don't know if my bartender puns will go over so well with the Friday night crowd," Blaine replied.
"No, no, that's not what I mean," Kurt said, turning so that he was fully facing Blaine on his bar stool. "I just mean...like when you're up on stage, even when you're just presenting and not doing your comedy, I don't really feel like it's you up there. It's like, you go up there and instead of being the funny Blaine Anderson that I've known for months you turn into this guy who's pretending to be a comedian." There was a brief pause while Blaine processed what Kurt had just said, but it made Kurt nervous, "I'm...I'm sorry. That was over stepping. You don't tell me how to make a proper Lime Ricky. I shouldn't tell you how to do your job."
"I think you have a point," Blaine said suddenly, resting his chin on his fist and giving Kurt his full attention. "You work at a comedy club. You see comedians all the time—good and bad, and I can take all the advice I can get."
"Okay..." Kurt said, taking a slow sip of his wine. "Okay, so I was talking to this comedian who was touring in the United States, but he was Ireland. He isn't hugely famous, but I googled him after, and he's been on a few panel shows and stuff in the UK..so he's relatively successful," Kurt continued. "I was sort of eavesdropping on a conversation he was having with another person at the bar, and he told them that the secret to being a great comedian was a willingness to sit on trains a lot, and exceptionally low self esteem."
Blane nearly spit out his beer with his laughter, "What?!"
"So much for doing away with the exaggerated 'what'," Kurt quipped and Blaine swatted him in the shoulder. "I think he just meant that you have to be willing to say just about anything on stage, including things that are really personal, that's where the really good stuff is. Haven't you heard the old cliché? It's funny because it's true," Kurt questioned. "Like I said, your routine was cute, but you're a comedian, not an actor."
Blaine sighed, "the fact that I know you're right is not making it any easier," Blaine said, staring down into his beer. "You know I've enjoyed making people smile and laugh my whole life, but I only started doing stand up when I was in college. I overheard my friend trying to talk me up to this guy once when he didn't know I was there. He asked what I looked like and my friend told him that I was really funny. It's only recently occurred to me that my stand up comedy career, if it can be called that, is based on the fact that my friend didn't want to straight up say I was unattractive."
It was Kurt's turn to let out a hardy laugh, "See!" Kurt finally choked out between giggles. "This is exactly what I'm talking about. This is the kind of stuff you should be saying on stage!"
"I'll work on it," Blaine said, unable to hold back a grin at how cute Kurt was when he was laughing freely. As a bartender at a comedy club, Kurt had managed to perfect the fake laugh, but Blaine has known him long enough to tell the difference and nothing set his heart a flutter like the sound of it. "Meanwhile, who knows when the boss will put me on again after that display," Blaine said finishing off his drink, "I guess I should get going. I have a long day of telemarketing ahead of me," Blaine said, pulling on his jacket, and leaving a tip on the table. Employees got one free drink per shift, but Blaine wasn't going to short change the other man.
"It'll happen, Blaine," Kurt said dropping the money into his tip jar with a grateful smile. He had learned long ago that there was no point in protesting Blaine's generosity. "Someone's bound to pull out at the last minute again, and until then, just keep writing." Blaine nodded and headed out the door, before he could leave though Kurt called out to him again, "Oh and Blaine," Blaine turned back around and gave Kurt his attention, "your friend was wrong. You are funny, but you're not unattractive."
Before Blaine could respond, Kurt hopped off of his own stool, and strode into the back room of the bar without another word.
"Do I want to know?" Kurt said, sizing up the scene in his apartment. Typically when he got home his room mate was already asleep, but tonight Sam was sitting at the kitchen table with several other people their age, dressed like some sort of mythical creature, staring studiously down at a fan of playing cards.
"No, probably not," Sam responded, not looking up as he put one of his cards down to the grumbling of one of the guys across from him. He appeared to be dressed as a what Kurt could only describe as a warrior monk. After making that play, Kurt could only assume that Sam's turn was over as the blonde man turned his attention to his room mate, who was rummaging through the fridge for something to eat. "How was work? Anyone funny tonight?"
Kurt sat on top of the counter and started eating a red bell pepper like it was an apple, "Honestly? The funniest thing I've seen all night is your four freaks sitting at my kitchen table," Kurt said, but a quirk in him mouth said that it was only good natured teasing. "It was a fairly slow night. Our headliner backed out at the last minute, so all the warm up acts got a little extra time. Even Blaine had to do a little performance instead of just presenting."
Sam had never met Blaine, but he had heard so much about him, that he felt like he knew him. "I'd ask you how he did, but I'm more interested in whether or not you've asked him for his number yet," Sam said, leveling Kurt with a look that spoke volumes.
"Wait has Hummel got himself a man?" a familiar voice came from underneath the monk hood.
"Puck, what the hell?! I didn't realize that was you," Kurt said, hopping down from the counter, yanking the hood off of the man's head. "Why didn't you identify yourself or something?"
Puck shrugged, "I just did." Puck had headed straight to California after high school to start up his pool cleaning business, but after a few years he became bored, and instead turned to the wonders of TaskRabbit. Puck now traveled around the country, mostly living out of his van, and doing odd jobs wherever his whimsy took him. Whenever he ended up in New York again, Kurt would find him in his apartment without any forewarning. "And anyway, don't dodge the question."
"I'm not dodging the question, Noah," Kurt replied. "There's just nothing to tell. Blaine is a friend from work. I don't mix business with my personal life."
"I'd be more sympathetic to that sentiment if you had a personal life," Sam said, in a stage whisper. Kurt just huffed and made his way into the living room to watch TV until he was ready to go to bed. It was late, but Kurt's mind was still buzzing from the conversation he'd had with Blaine, and he knew he wouldn't be able to fall asleep right away.
The truth was that Sam was right, Kurt didn't have much of a social life at the moment. He spent his days tirelessly trying to get his fashion magazine off the ground and all night working at the club to make enough money to live. Kurtain Magazine was his dream, and he definitely felt that it was worth it, but it was taking a toll on his currently non-existent love life. It wasn't that Kurt didn't want to me meet someone, he just hadn't yet, and anyway he was young. He had his whole life to meet his prince charming. For now, he just needed to concentrate on himself.