The First 8 Months and What May — Or May NOT Lie Ahead

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Sunday marked the eight month anniversary that I have been doing stand-up comedy.  I thought it would be neat to create a survey to gauge opinion on what I have done so far, but getting an honest assessment of things might equate to pulling teeth, so it will be easier for me to just write another blog entry and let you all in on what the future of Saskatoon comedy may hold.

First of all, it does not seem like it has been eight months since I started down this path.  I know some of you were excited for me, some scratched their heads and (still) wonder what I was getting myself into.  There were some who flat out did not believe I had any ability to try, and still some were worried for me but hopeful that I could pull this off.

I know there were no guarantees getting into this, and that whatever I got from comedy I would have to earn, but I would be lying if I said that things went the way I thought they would thus far.  No, in these last eight months I have learned a lot about myself, my friends, a comedy audience and of the comics in general.  I have met some really cool people along the way and gained valuable insight to the world of stand-up comedy.

It started out with the comedy competition, then I went to Regina on Saturday nights to get stage time there, that lasted a couple months, then my attention turned to the competition called Win Dez Reeds Money (for comics with less than 5 years in the biz), managing a couple of my best performances to date, at the Adobe Inn in Martensville, and at Manchesters.  Ah yes, Manchesters, the site of our smallest audience to date (a dozen people or so) whereI finished 1st that night. Yes, that one night I topped some of the best new comedic talent in Saskatoon.

From there it was on to Lydias and their Tuesday open mic nights, followed by more performances at Beilys, a comedy night at Crackers with Junior Kush and debuting at the Comedy Club on my birthday.  Then starting next Monday I am part of the Great Plains Comedy Festival (my appearances are to be determined).  While the comedy is not at the level it needs to be for the festival already, it has been getting better these last few weeks.  It is an opportunity that was given to me as a result of the work I have put in over these last 8 months.  That isn’t to say that everything has been coming up roses, far from it. What I am saying is there have been more struggles then high points, but I’m still at it, I have yet to throw in the towel and quit.  I think there is something to be said for that.

The one thing that I have been noted for is my confidence onstage.  The fact that I can tell a joke, not get the reaction I know I canget and keep on like it didn’t faze me, is one of my strengths.  Sure, you can say that it is easy for me to develop that confidence when my stuff does not generate many laughs, but remember something here.  The comic writes what he thinks is funny.  Bob Hope once said that if it is funny to you, if it made you laugh, then it is a good idea to write because it will make others laugh.  For example, when I write I don’t write from the point of view that I think a certain friend of mine will find it funny if they watch my set.  I write different material that relates to different people.  It is about striking a chord with your audience, about creating that bond where the audience feels like they can relate to the material you are speaking of.  You should never edit your first draft of a joke that you write, so it then becomes a matter of re-working your joke.  That is why you might hear the comic say the same joke through several different sets.  This is done so you can change the setup a bit, try to personalize it a bit more (make it seem more real to you, thus helping sell it to an audience more), play with the timing a bit (knowing when to speak and when to shut-up for a laugh), or else you can ad-lib somewhere in the setup (one time I did a joke and the setup did not get a reaction, then off the top of my head I said something that got a reaction).

I started writing in a notebook leading up to my first time on the Beilys stage, and kept it for a few months.  Then in the new year, I started a second book, taking some of the jokes from the original book with me, and leaving some on the cutting room floor.  Overall I have written over 150 pieces of material between the two books, on everything from George Clooney, to sex, karaoke, women, bingo, drinking, dating, condoms, food, hookers, family….well, you get the idea.

I am proud of what I have wrote thus far, even if it hasn’t had the reaction it should on a given night.  I cannot  even say there is a certain way I like to write, because when it pops into my head, I just write, although I have to admit that the more I write, the jokes have become more condensed where I don’t piss around forever with the setup.  That is the best way to lose your audience fast.  You should get a reaction every 15 to 30 seconds at the most.  When I find out what that feels like, believe me, you will be the first to know  HA HA HA HA

Okay, enough nostalgia.  Time to look ahead.  For the comedy festival that starts next Monday, as of this writing I do not know where I will be booked to perform.  I hope to find out within the next few days.  Having said that, I think this festival has come at the right time for me.  The venue I will be playing at will be nothing like Beilys, and that could play to my advantage for once.  It would be a smaller venue, meaning people sit closer together so you get a better response, and they will be a bit older than the Beilys Monday night crowd, and will be there for comedy, so it might be easier to get a laugh.  Plus, the Beilys crowd seems to like it best when the comics make fun of others.  At the comedy club, or at a comedy venue, the comic doesn’t have to cut the audience down to get laughs, they can do material that pokes fun at themselves, yet isn’t offensive.  If you have ever been to Beilys on a Monday night you know what I am talking about.

For the most part I will be doing newer material for the festival.  I imagine I would have anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes onstage.  Some of the material I did on my birthday I would use for the festival, and I have some new stuff I have wrote within the last while that I will try to.  The best part is I do feel like I am prepared in a way, because I have so much already written, if something doesn’t work, it will not be a chore to find some older material I can pull out of my hat.  I feel like my older material can relate to certain people in the audience so it will be important to get an idea early on of what they like, and what they don’t.  It will be a welcome change of scenery for me, and I am sure most of the audience that night, wherever I may be, will be a new audience.  This will make it fun, and I am confident I can succeed when I am up onstage.

After the comedy festival I should get back to the Tuesday night open mic sessions at Lydias.  I would be doing that every other week.  Keep checking the comedy FB page for details, as I will try to get that kick started again within the next few weeks.

With the opening of the comedy club downtown, it will soon be going from Tuesday to Saturday night.  While that is great for the local comedy scene, it might mean that the comedy club would be the only venue during the week for local stand-up talent to perform.  If that is the case, I then may find myself on the outside looking in, as far as the local comics go.  I will not be back onstage at the comedy club again for the foreseeable future, and with the debacle that happened on my birthday, I am not surprised.  I did get laughs when I was onstage at the club, but the problem was I only got some laughs.  Then again, that was the first time also of doing all new material.  Had I worked that material in front of an audience a few times before, I think it may have gone better.  But for now, I am on the sidelines.  I don’t have a problem with that, in fact I understand it completely.

However, if Monday nights are scrapped, where will that leave me?

Monday nights being scrapped are speculation at this point.  Beilys is a good place to play for the comedy festival when you get lots of people there, and it is of an older crowd that is more conducive to comedy.  But for a weekly gig, I know there are some who would like to see weekly sets moved to the comedy club and that’s it.  Only time will tell.  The guy who runs the comedy here says he will get me stage time when available, so if he supports my decision to keep going with this, I am thinking that something will pan out here soon if Mondays weren’t an option moving forward.  Like I said though, that is just a thought floating around right now.  I have to admit though, last week, when I did my bit about my friend who ruined my stage time on my birthday, yeah, I laid into her pretty good, and yes, it got laughs to the point where I was able to work on my timing, but at the same time, I didn’t feel right about doing it.  I felt like I was hitting below the belt as it were, like I was sinking to the younger audiences level by taking the easy way out to bash somebody just to get a laugh.  Sure, most of what I said was true, and yes I was able to set it up in such a way that it got laughs, but it just didn’t feel right to do. It isn’t really my style anyways to be like that.

I just wanted to end by saying that there are lots of you who read this blog who have supported me in different ways throughout my journey.  You started out by coming out to support me, and it has now grown to where you come out to support the local comedy scene, and at least I can take some satisfaction in that.

Well, it is off to bed as I have Monday off, but I still have to find a new place to live.  Oh well, nobody ever said my life was perfect, let alone easy!

Remember to keep your eyes peeled on my FB pages for my schedule at the comedy festival.  The second I know where I will be, I will let you know, and give you information on how to purchase tickets for it too.

Again, comments are more than welcome, and thank you to the readers in the Philippines, Hungary, the United Kingdom, the USA, here in Canada and in Jamaica for following my blog, The Stand-Up Diaries.

 

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