Either You Have It, Or You Don’t?

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I was watching an interview of a famous comedian.  I enjoyed watching the interview until I heard those words again.

either you got it, or you don’t

click (yes, I actually used a t.v. remote)

There are a lot of different personality types that attempt stand-up.  Some are really nervous, self conscious and piss-your-pants scared when they first start out.  Their jokes die a slow death more often than not.  But over time they stick with it, and become better.  The associations become more crisp and clearly defined.  They sucked at the beginning but as time went on they got better at their craft and experienced success.  Does this mean they were born with it even though they weren’t good at the start?

You hear a lot of stories from comics about how they shit the bed when they first started out.  Most of us do.  But the assertion that you either got it or you don’t is a bit misleading.  If you were born with it, then why would you suck when you are first starting out?  Comedy is like any other endeavour in life.  You acquire certain skills as you go.

Crowd work, mic control, timing, writing and stage presence come to mind as some of the more important elements you need to get down to be successful.  The only way you learn to hone these skills among others is through failure.

Sometimes you need the assistance of a coach, a paid professional who can help you get these tools quicker or at the very least refine them.  When Gretzky was with the Oilers he had a coach tell him how to play.  Roger Federer had a coach when he won every tournament imaginable.  Even Tiger Woods had a coach.

Society wants you to believe in that saying.  The people that tell you this are the same ones looking over their shoulder making sure you won’t take their spot down the road.  Politics is like that.  I believe the average person who could make a difference doesn’t bother attempting to run, because of the perception that you have to be rich and/or successful in business to run.  (this isn’t true at all.  You could be a broke ass, unemployed average Joe but fantastic at drumming up support and raising money….and once you get that support behind you the other candidates will use fear mongering and bash that person’s lack of experience or success, but the more they bash the more they get tuned out from the popular support).

Instead of making fun of others for what they don’t have, why not be more accepting of others attempts to try to have more of a collaborative approach instead?

Now, a final word.

Some of you may wonder why I am going to Los Angeles in the summer if I am perceived to “not have it”.  I am going because I actually have a connection in L.A. that has helped me and recognizes the time and effort I’ve put in to trying to enhance my current skills.  When comedians go to California for a vacation or a business trip, I’ve never heard of them doing stand-up while they are there.  There are plenty of open mics, and comedy every night of the week, so why not do it?

Maybe their material is too localized and wouldn’t play out in Los Angeles.  But if that’s the case you can always write and expand your material to include a more global view of things, or at least compare what life is like back home to what you witness in Los Angeles.  You should be able to instantly come up with similarities and differences between California and Saskatchewan.

It’s about confidence.  If they had the confidence to succeed I think it would be easy for them to do the research ahead of time about the clubs and go do a set.  I won’t say my confidence is at an all time high, but I am not afraid to try.  I have no problem going on stage knowing things might not work out.  But because in Los Angeles I will be in front of actual comedy audiences, I’ve had more than enough experience of not doing well, that if things went sideways I at least have a few tricks up my sleeve to bring the audience back around.

The 20 pages I have written since October are starting to get away from the self-deprecating style that at times didn’t get the reaction it could have, maybe because there was too much of it.  I am working on material specific for Los Angeles that I will not perform here in Saskatoon, but I am still confident it will work.  I am also writing a new half hour set to get back on stage at the professional comedy club in the next few months.

In case you think this comedy coaching thing doesn’t work, here is a quick story to refute that.  When I was first starting out there were a few writing sessions I attended.  You know what happened the most?  It was silence.  Everyone sitting there thinking about what to write, but not knowing what to write, or how to come up with it.  I used to be one of those people, until I found the only person who believed in me enough to not only offer help, but followed through with that offer.  The only person in comedy who said I have potential.

If you had it figured out from the start, you’d have nothing to learn as you go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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