An Understanding 17 Months In The Making

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Last week wasn’t a very good one for me.  I feel like I got verbally beaten up at work pretty much every day, then I had to deal with the fact that I was not allowed on stage on a regular comedy night, only for an open mic night.  Since the open mics are infrequent, it may be a month or two between sets for me.  to me it felt like I was being kicked out because I got comedy coaching.

There are some people who may think that my material was better before I started the coaching.  I completely disagree because I personally lived through all the negativity, bullshit, malicious comments and public bashings that happened with regularity during the first 1 1/2 years of being on stage.  I was the one on stage when I told what I thought were good jokes and my friends wouldn’t laugh.  My friends back then didn’t trust me enough to tell me what they really thought of my performances.  That hurt, and was made worse on some nights when I was an easy target for the audience to laugh at once my sets were done.  I remember the eerie silence between jokes.

With my recent video, for the FIRST TIME I got laughs on every single joke that I told.  Some of you may think I am a phony because I didn’t write my comeback set 100% by myself.  While I can understand the scepticism, I can tell you that between my comedy coach and myself, we were equal partners when it came to comedy writing.  A couple of jokes I wrote that he loves, we never touched and put in my act.  Some jokes we had to rewrite and retool in order to get a bigger and better laugh from it.  I have found the biggest reason why my jokes didn’t work as well as they could have.  It’s because they were too wordy.  When they get too wordy, the audience becomes overloaded with information and they have to work a little bit to connect the dots in the setup of the joke.  If they are working that hard to figure out the setup, it doesn’t matter if you have a great punchline because you have already lost the audience for that joke.

He also took the time to get to know me over several hours of Skype chats to learn who I am and what I’m about.  Based on that knowledge, he crafted material that fit the “character” we are trying to develop.  Some of the jokes he wrote were good, but didn’t feel right to me so I tweaked them a bit, and they came out better in the end as a result.  It’s not like I paid him to just sit back and watch him do all the work.  A lot of the jokes I wrote in the past will probably be scrapped.  Sure, they might be clever but they don’t get great laughs, or they just aren’t appropriate for me to tell, now that I have a character I am developing.  I would rather have material that is specific to my  character rather than be all over the map with material on different subjects.

Having said that, I am finally getting my wish, albeit 17 months in the making.  For the first time I will truly feel like I am part of the team, although it will cost me in the end.

Thursday, May 16th and Friday, May 17th we have a New York born headliner coming to the club.  I felt that based on my comeback it showed enough improvement that I warranted opportunity on stage with the local comics.  Others disagree.  I then made an offer to quit comedy if I didn’t get laughs in front of a full house.  That idea was nixed too.

In the end, a compromise was struck.  I will purchase two tables of 10 for the shows next week, one for each night.  Whoever wants to show up on either of these nights will get in at no cost to them, since I paid for the tables.  In exchange for that, I will get stage time that is longer than the usual five minutes, as I could get a 7 minute set.  In essence I am paying for stage time.

From what I have been told, this is commonplace at some comedy clubs in the larger centres, with the idea that since you are shelling out cash to be onstage, you have a bit more of a vested interest in succeeding.  You aren’t likely to fuck around on stage and be more prepared as a result.  I have had the coaching, I now know why my material didn’t work before and have a very well constructed set as a result.  All I ever wanted was what everyone else has received thus far, and that is a chance to perform in front of a full house sharing the stage with one of our most popular headliners.  120 audience members packed into the comedy club in a small space so you can really hear the laughs.

Some are of the opinion that I feel like I am entitled to stage time.  That perception is 100% wrong.

I have noticed that some performers just on ego alone feel they are entitled.  I have never conveyed that attitude or ego.  Short of tugging on the club MCs shirt sleeve and begging him for help, I was mostly frustrated because for whatever reason, I wasn’t receiving any help to get better.  Every one of the local guys have been to a gig.  Not Trevor.  Every one of the guys have had their names advertised and pushed and praised.  Not Trevor.  Every one of the guys have played and killed it in front of a full house.  Again, you guessed it….not Trevor.  Once I was asked to stay away from the club in January, it meant not having contact with the management which is fine and understandable, but I knew I had to get better and there was absolutely nobody who was willing to help me, so what could I do?

I pulled out all the stops and found a guy who runs a comedy school in Los Angeles, who wrote for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and he had a system where he could crank out 120 jokes a day.  This is no word of a lie, I’ve seen this guy at work.  Think about it for a minute.  The Tonight Show is one of the most popular shows in America every year.  If the host during the monologue can’t get laughs from a joke, how long do you think he will be employed?  Exactly!

Based on this understanding, I finally feel like I might be part of the team instead of always being the easy target for laughs or being picked on to make others feel better about themselves.  All I wanted when I started was to fit in and be given the same opportunities for growth and success that others have received.  Up until now, I haven’t.  However, if I have to pay to be part of the team 9for now), then so be it.

I will be the most successful comic next week, aside from the headliner.  I will get the most laughs from the local guys.  I know it to be fact because I’ve seen the results of the work I’ve put in.  For the rest of you, just sit back, watch, and be proven wrong…..yet again.

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