Perception vs. Reality

I heard of a study that recently came out, where couples who were married over 25 years were asked what the biggest reason was to a lasting marriage.  The conclusion was how the spouse perceived their partner was more important than what that person thought of themselves.  I like the last sentence of that news item though.  If you place your partner on a pedestal, she better stay on it  LOL

That study though raises an interesting point of discussion which I am writing about today.  It’s one I have started to think about as my new career in stand-up is growing and one that I may have to make a decision on.  That decision might not be today, but it could be next month, next year or several years down the road.

I guess the best way to describe it is about finding your schtick, your persona, or your character onstage.  Should I have one?  Whose style, if any should I borrow?  Would it be clean, dirty or full of innuendo?  What about a style (wardrobe) or mannerisms?  As you can see it’s not an easy thing for me to begin the process of figuring out, especially when there are several opinions on what I should do that come from close friends, fellow comics and audience members alike.

There are a few differing opinions, and I will run through them here.  One is that I appear to be extremely socially awkward onstage, another is that I should play the nerdy angle, and that I’m also “creepy” onstage and should play to that, but in a funny way, of course.

The socially awkward angle piques my curiosity a bit.  I was told that I appear nervous onstage, and when I ask my good friends what they think of course, they give me an honest answer although it’s probably biased because they have seen me perform before (ie: in costume for karaoke leagues) and don’t see a difference.  Another style I was told may be a fit is for me to play up the nerdy angle.  While I appreciate feedback, this one I will never, ever do.  Being labelled a nerd for starters is so 1980s, and I was picked on up until grade 11.  Nowadays I don’t tolerate bullies.  PERIOD.  That takes me back to my past and makes me feel angry and bad.  My family may like to drag me back there, but seriously, I am moving forward.  Besides, even if I was to think for a nanosecond that this is a good idea…. I dunno.  I need to feel that if I do have a schtick that it’s one that allows me to remain in control, be confident and write material for it.

I think part of the problem for me to consider a schtick is that I am a well-rounded person and so far I’ve written my material to reflect that.  If I developed a schtick would I be pigeon-holing myself in the sense that I now would have to cut my material in half or worse, and have to think of either specific jokes, or a specific way to write jokes to fit what I’m trying to accomplish?

So what I’m trying to say is that there are many comics out there who just tell jokes.  Some stand at the mic, some walk around, some get “into” a character and some are just an extension of their personality in real life.  There are many comics who walk around onstage and talk about their life experiences.  I can hear Andrew Grose and Gerry Dee for example, they both have a similar stage presence but you can tell them apart from their material.  I guess it wouldn’t be a big deal to be just a regular comic who can sort of stand on their own based on the uniqueness of the material and how it’s presented.  Then again, there are plenty of unique stage personas like a Tommy Savitt, Larry The Cable Guy, Brian Lazanik, Harland Williams or a Jeremy Hotz.  Sure, all those guys I listed stand out on their own in many ways but it also shows that there are more than one way to stand out onstage if you want to be a comic.  The trick is to find something that nobody does and make it your own.  With my creative mind and priding myself on thinking outside of the box, well, I’d be here a very long time over-thinking how I could carve out a niche for myself.

Friends perceive me one way onstage, comic A sees something completely different from that, comic B sees something completely different from that, and the audience sees something yet again, different from the rest.  Some comics take several years to figure out a persona, a character or a schtick.  Then again, some comics are self-aware enough that it only takes them a few months to figure that out.  Another one told me that because I am 38, that’s a bit old to start in the comedy game and I can take that angle.  Yeah, the angle of being creepy!  LOL

It’s only been within the last couple weeks that I have been asked if I have considered a schtick yet.  As I’ve found in the world of stand-up, this is just one of the many parts of the comedy game where there is more to it than meets the eye.

Again, it may take YEARS to figure this out, but your comments are always welcome.  At the very least it will spark some good discussion and maybe open my mind up to a possibility I didn’t think about before.

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