The other people involved in the gig were colleagues, or well wishers from the comedy world. These are our friends. We are comedians and comedy people. We get the chance to meet in a quasi-random fashion. It's like a bizarre dating service just marries people together according to the whims of the comedy gods and the promoters. So when someone you've not seen in a few years is on the bill, or even someone you saw a couple of months ago, it's good fortune to see them, catch up, share gig wounds and reminiscences of past success/failure.
The process of putting on a show makes us show-folk. A bit like clowns. Or strippers.
Knowing the Signs
You should always be optimistic about the chance of making a gig work. But experience shows you when things are not going to be 100% perfect. So, you recalibrate what success might look like. You try not to let it bother you. What can't be changed can't be changed. You're there, so you may as well make the most of it. That's where the recalibration comes into it. If there are two people in the room, then you work out what two people laughing uproariously sounds like (not much) and make that your goal. Most of all, you know not to blame the good people for the bad circumstances.
Don't take it seriously
I am very serious about giving a good account of myself and learning from my experiences. However, there's no point in having a massive strop or hissy fit if things aren't right. If you know it's not "in key", then you have to shrug it off with the whole "well, it's only a gig"... because ultimately it's just that, a folly, a bit of fun, a bit of entertainment. Sure, you plan for these things to be artistically vibrant, and incredibly successful, but not giving a shit occasionally will also pay off.
Laugh off the fear
And when the metaphoric tomatoes start flying, when the circumstances seem out of control, where other factors kick in and make it seem scary, ridiculous, pointless, or hopeless, then you have to laugh. A gig that's not working is a parody of a gig. If we were watching it to happen to someone in a sitcom, we'd laugh at their misfortune. So, you should be able to laugh at all the hysterical misfires that happen at a bad gig. Other acts, broken PA systems, the room falling in, the room flooding... it's all happened... laugh it off. It makes the world a better place.
Be glad you're not opening
If you're not opening, then respect to the poor bastard who jumps on the grenade and takes one for the team in a mixed metaphor of unenviable doom!
One for me
And finally, find something you find funny and use it.
So on Saturday night, in a snooker club/working men's club, where I picked up a piece of pool chalk on the way to the stage after a night of staring, ignoring and otherwise non-appreciation from the audience, I walked confidently to the mic, told them how they were a challenge, how nice it was to be in a snooker club, emphatically chalked the microphone and set about doing my thing.
I found it funny... sort of.