Sitting On The Launch Pad

This is probably the most important posting I have made since I started writing The Stand-Up Diaries.  After last nights show at Beily’s, while I do have a renewed sense of optimism and hope, I also see the reality of my situation in front of me, meaning that by the end of the summer at the latest I will make the decision to either continue the stand-up comedy, or shut Trevor Dean down altogether. Yes, the other comics in the city are supportive and a great group to be around, but if the effort isn’t producing the necessary results, then I think I will have lost some credibility with the regular comedy crowd, in addition with not having the people who put the comedy on in Saskatoon, to believe in me and my ability.  Again, these are my opinions.

The main guy who puts the comedy together in Saskatoon has offered his help to me, in order to get better.  Those of you who follow the comedy scene know who I am talking about.  Again, I share this information with you not to stir up shit or create drama, or to twist somebody’s words around.  Remember what the sole purpose of this blog is.  This blog was created with you, the comedy fan in mind.  My friends just see a comic onstage getting laughs, and maybe don’t get the finer points of comedy, like the writing, timing, and other things.  I am starting to learn these, and I know there are readers of this who appreciate the insight because it allows them to see the comic in a different light and recognize the talent and work that goes into it.  I am not saying I’m an expert by any means, but I have been doing this for seven months now, so I at least have the ability to let you into the comedy world somewhat, although it’s on a limited scale right now because I’m so new at it.  Plus, the conversations that I make reference to in here actually happened, and are the truth.

So, back to the conversation.  He made reference to the fact that I appear confident onstage, and if a joke doesn’t work that I know to be funny, I can just simply shrug it off and keep going, because I know the next crowd I encounter will react differently to that joke.  Confident on the stage.  I know it may be hard to believe, but it took about 6 months (most of the time I’ve been doing this) to get to that point.  I hope one day in the near future that my confidence will branch itself out to include audience interaction.

The other part of the conversation was one that didn’t offend or insult me, didn’t surprise me really but at the same time made me realize that my assessment of my performances so far have been somewhat accurate.  Most of my friends say that I am too hard on myself, blah blah blah, I’m too negative.  Well, you people need to get your heads out of the sand and clue into the reality here.  I never said that I suck, I said I’m not that good…..yet, which means that I haven’t received the response from an audience I should be getting by now.  I guess I should have made that a bit clearer at the start.  My material isn’t bad, I just need to do a better and more consistent of a job selling it to the audience.

Anyhow, he also said I should be getting a better response from the audience, and I’m not.  That point refers to the fact my performance isn’t growing at the rate expected.  He actually has a point though.  First, let me make two things clear.  The entertainment dollar today is competitive, and if the comic is improving, that’s great, but I guess the question is for how long do you try to help someone be good before you cut that person loose?  Secondly, the timing of my material isn’t very good because I don’t get a consistent response from the audience.  There are only two times in the seven months I’ve done this, two times on the comedy stage where I’ve been able to get a good laugh in the middle of my material to work on my timing.  Timing is hard to work on when the opportunity doesn’t present itself.  It’s starting to bother me, a tiny bit.  I get the same reaction 90% of the time I am onstage, and after this long, there should be some improvement.

I was also told something that gave me hope, like a light at the end of the tunnel….if only I knew which direction to take to get to the tunnel in the first place!  He said that there is a disconnect between myself and the audience.  I have a story to tell, and I am sure the audience will want to hear it.  I have the tools and the confidence to get onstage, but something is missing, hence the launch pad reference.  The rocket on the outside looks ready to go, standing tall and proud but on the inside, well, it needs some work.  You can’t tell by looking at the outside of the rocket that the wiring is crossed or needing to be replaced on the inside, can you?

Now, this means that when I get the help, it will probably mean some significant changes in my writing, the way I present the material or in my attitude onstage.  It will probably also mean that I will do things that I am not familiar with or uncomfortable in doing, but I’m willing to take that chance to have someone re-build Trevor Dean as we presently know it.  After that conversation we had last night, I can see what he means, and that it certainly has merit.  I too know I can succeed in comedy, and yes, there is something missing, although I’m not sure I would have been able to come up with the phrase “a disconnect between you and the audience” (but hey, that is pretty good).  Once I receive the help to rebuild things, if there isn’t a noticeable improvement in the reception I get from the material and from the way it’s presented, I might have to come up with a character, take a break, or put an end to Trevor Dean.

Those are options I do not want to have to consider especially when I had my family right from the start tell me that I couldn’t do it, had no confidence to do it or be funny, more like an embarrassment.  I can make this work, the only thing is that it’s different from bowling, singing or my day job, where you know what needs to be done to be successful.  With comedy though, I know the basics, but that’s it.  I need immediate change to my performance, I just don’t know how or what to do.  That is why I’ve enlisted his help.

So, as you can see, there is a certain amount of optimism and hope as I look forward to receiving his input.  On the other hand, I completely understand where he is coming from in his critique of my performance.  I could never be in the position he’s in, knowing when to cut somebody loose or to encourage them to keep going.  That has to be the most difficult thing for a person in charge to know how to do, and when to do it.  So, to be fair, if you happen to see my show before I get his help, you probably won’t miss much.  Sure I have new material all the time, but the reaction probably won’t be there.  So, sometime within the next few weeks, the rebuilding of Trevor Dean will begin. The first show after that will be a telling sign on things to come.

If I were you, and you’re planning to come to a performance of mine, make it the one after the rebuilding.  I’ll keep you posted as to when that is.  And, for this posting at least, I won’t post the comments, because it isn’t necessary.  This post isn’t to solicit opinions, it is to tell you what is going on.



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