Andy, Andie & The “F” Word In Comedy

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I decided a while back that it’s best for me to not make Facebook posts about my social life, at least in regards to dating.  If I make any reference about dating it will be on stage.  Instead of writing new material about the good and the bad from the week in Trevor’s dating world (though more good than bad), it reminded me of one of my favourite movies.  It brings up the “f” word and how it relates to my comedy now, at this point in my life.

Yes, that word known as feelings.  Emotion is what you communicate to the audience, but feelings are what comes from the comics inside that make the emotions real.

Structure in your material is key, as are laugh triggers and knowing the different comedy styles.  But the one thing that ties it all together is being credible on stage. Does the audience believe what you are telling them actually happened, or could happen?  The way you create that credibility is through emotion, or feelings.

 

Over the last several months I have had sets that haven’t been very good because my feelings don’t properly translate to the emotions that go with the material.  So it becomes disjointed when you go from zero to sixty in two seconds with the materials emotion, making it especially uncomfortable for the audience if there are no laugh points to help set it up.  It becomes uncomfortable.  Instead of having the audience root for you to succeed (audience laughter does this), they now feel sorry for you.  It’s like watching an accident.  You’re sure how it will end, you just want it to stop.

There have been times over the last year where I felt like absolute shit on the inside, and didn’t want to do comedy.  But in spite of how I felt, the show must go on.  When on stage and I knew that material was coming that would upset me, I could feel myself physically tense up before I delivered it and going into the setup.  That I have found to be a recipe for disaster.  Just with anything else in life, you need to control your breathing and be physically relaxed.  When you are relaxed physically, you will relax between the ears as well, making it a bit easier and more believable to bring out the emotions of how that particular joke makes you feel.  Of course, I know this now considering all that I have been through in the last two years.  Time really is the best teacher.  It helps to be at peace with who I am, knowing I am not a bad person despite all the mistakes I have made, regardless of what other people may think about me.

It made me think back to one of my favourite movies and how the main characters emotions, in response to how he felt played a part in the journey he took in the movie.

It’s called “Just The Ticket”, a 1999 film starring Andy Garcia and Andie MacDowell.  Garcia’s character is Gary, and MacDowell’s is Linda.  Linda is a woman going places.  She is a chef, articulate, smart, stylish but also indecisive.  That indecision comes in the form of her on again/off again boyfriend named Gary.  Gary is popular, has people skills and generally well liked.  The problem is he isn’t successful.  He is a ticket scalper in New York, content on barely getting by all the while hoping for that one big break that sets him up to finally be a success like others around him, or should I say like Linda and her friends.

Gary and Linda’s relationship goes through a few different twists and turns in the film.  But Linda gets an offer to leave New York for cooking school in Paris (I’m not giving much away since it’s in the trailer).  Now Gary has a window of time that gets smaller by the day to give Linda a reason to stay, to show her that he can be a provider, be successful and respectable in the sight of her family and friends.

What struck me about Gary was at times when he was down, when Linda dumped him, when she went on a date with somebody else, and when she told Gary of her acceptance to this cooking school, I am sure Gary had a lot of shitty and hurt feelings inside of him.

But in his heart he truly believed that Linda was the girl for him because she understood him.  She saw the goodness and humanity in Gary that few others saw.  Now Gary had to not only keep it together mentally to show Linda he could turn things around, he had a business to run being a ticket scalper, with his crew of dedicated employees.  Again, not really spoiling anything that the trailer didn’t cover.

Let me tie this altogether for you.  Gary knew Linda was the girl for him.  There was something about Gary that kept him on Linda’s mind always.  Gary must have felt really shitty inside, being sad, alone and depressed.  Maybe even a little angry and hurt.  But Gary knew he could be the man Linda needed him to be, he just needed opportunity.  Now, despite the inner turmoil within Gary he needs to put on the best face he can for Linda and for his business.  He is vulnerable and emotional with his close friends, but when it comes to the woman he loves and his job, he puts on the brave face and moves forward.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am a lot like Gary.  I have been where he was, feeling the types of pain, disappointment and rejection while feeling like all you do is wake up every morning just so you can do nothing but seemingly spin your wheels for another day.  But by faith Gary sees the bigger picture.  He takes those feelings and pours them out to those closest to him.  But when it comes to love and work, seems like he physically relaxes himself to not let the feelings overtake him and come out as negative emotions.

Gary has optimism, confidence and courage.  I have very rarely had all three at once.  Usually I just have one of the three.  At times other people and/or situations have kept me from the other two.  I guess there is a little bit of Gary in some of us, the underdog, the one who everybody looks at and wonders when he’s going to figure it out.  Gary is a good role model for how I should be in comedy.  It’s a great, yet very humbling lesson to learn.

Funny thing is, the people who know me are probably the only ones who will make sense of Gary and how he ties into what I should be, as a comic and as a man.

 

 

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