My very first solo performance EVER was at Grape Creek Winery in Georgetown about four years ago, after they had just opened. They'd had a cancellation and I was lucky enough to have some friends moonlighting there who really wanted to help me along my journey. At this point, I had performed many times with a band and a duo, and I had gotten pretty comfortable doing those types of gigs, but never had I done a show all by myself. I was fucking terrified! But I had just seen "William Shatner - It's His World, We Just Live In It," so I was saying YES no matter what. You can read that blog post here.
At one point in the show I had completely failed at getting a song going (I don't remember what song) so I made a joke that if I couldn't get through a song I was gonna start telling jokes. The audience then chimed in that they wanted to hear a joke, so I obliged. I gave them a warm-up: A sandwich walks into a bar, he walks up to the bartender and says, "Bartender give me a beer, please" and the bartender says, "I'm sorry we don't serve food here." They laughed. I gave them another one: A mushroom walks into a bar and says, "Bartender give me a beer!" the bartender replies, "I can't serve you!" and the mushroom says, "Why not, I'm a fun-gi!" They laughed again... At that point we were all pretty loosened up and I was able to get through the song. After the show, I was mortified about my performance, but proud of myself for getting through it. The venue even asked me to come back! After that I made sure to always have a few dumb jokes on hand, and suddenly it was a thing. People started sharing their dumb jokes with me, I started putting them in the newsletter, etc. I even had one guy who would request a specific joke every time he came to a show.
For a long time, my perspective on that gig was THANK GOD THAT WAS OVER. Then something changed. I was playing at Grape Creek just a few months ago and a couple flags me over while I was on a break. They asked if I'd played there before and I said yes, and then they said they'd thought that they had seen me before and proceeded to describe that very first show and then told me WHAT A GOOD TIME THEY HAD! Now, what now? I didn't even know how to respond to that. I was in shock. I had filed that show way in the back of my mental filing cabinet under "traumatic events," and here these people were telling me that they they remembered having a great experience and were really excited to be seeing me again after all this time.