To Try….Or Not To Try. That Is The Question


After the success I had last week in realizing the growth of my stage show, one conclusion is staring me straight in the face.

It’s about to get tougher.  A whole lot tougher.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am very proud of the growth I’ve seen in my performances in 2012 even though it took since the beginning of October to get 5 solid minutes of material.

There are probably about 85 pieces of material I have written so far.  Some of them will get trashed because I don’t see the comedic value in it (now that I have had stage experience it’s a bit easier to evaluate some of the jokes I first wrote), some will get chopped for length, and some will be rewritten for clarity.  I have probably only used maybe a dozen of those 85+jokes so far.  That begs the question I must ask of myself, and one that the audience will ponder on occasion, if I want to have continued growth.

When do you try new material?

I had a very shitty day on Monday and it left me in an foul mood.  Usually when I get like that, common sense and rational thought are not two things you associate with me.  Some of my most creative moments have come when I don’t really give a shit about how things will turn out; an idea is spontaneously born and I get to work on making it as entertaining as possible.  Well, that is what I did when I performed in a karaoke league, where you dressed in costume and sang songs based on a particular theme night.

I had a couple of my friends out at Beily’s last night.  I didn’t know if I would even be on stage but I found out at the last minute when Dez offered me stage time.  It was too close before the start of the show to let the co-administrator of my comedy page on Facebook to know, for her to post my appearance.  I really did have the intentions of doing something new, then I saw the people come in, and they kept coming in, there were at least 50 to 60 people there.  I kinda got cold feet because it was something I wrote on that afternoon and had a good idea in my mind how it would be performed, but I just wasn’t sure it was a good idea after the first signs of growth I experienced last week.

I should explain that this new material I might do is part of trying to form an identity, a schtick if you will, something unique about my performance or mannerisms that make people automatically think of me.  For example, Steven Wright, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx and Mike MacDonald and Tommy Savitt are all examples of comedians who have developed a shtick to make their brand unique in the comedy world.  In the case of Tommy Savitt, he’s been doing stand-up comedy since the mid 90s, after he quit law school to pursue his dream.  He said it took him several years to develop his shtick.  I know mine won’t come overnight. It’s possible that it could, but there will be tonnes of trial and error in the process.

I know that the local comics here have been very supportive and have told me more than once that I can do whatever material I want.  You should be able to perform the same way for 2 people that you would for 200 people.  Now that’s a great idea in theory, but when you are starting out and remembering the sparsity of laughter at your material, it doesn’t necessarily make you want to pull out something entirely new hoping the audience gets it.

I know it’s not like I won’t be included in the comic fraternity anymore if I try something new and it completely sucks ass.  There is a local comic who is trying a new shtick, at least it was a different type of performance that I saw from this person since I first tuned into the local comedy scene back in the summer.  It was cleverly written and very unique, but he still had the confidence to try it out for the big crowd.  Some of it was hit and miss, and some was bang on.  Then again if I had been doing stand-up for a few years too, I’d probably be in a better frame of mind to bring something new out of the box.  Like I previously wrote, on the one hand I thought about doing the first five minutes of the solid material that I am comfortable with (that gets the laughs), and take the last 5 minutes to play around with different material to see what works, so I can come up with a consistent 10 minute set.  That will probably take me another 3 1/2  months to figure out, and that’s fine with me.

There are some of the guys who on any given night, whether the crowd is packed or empty, still have the boldness of confidence to try all brand new material from start to finish.  I have noticed that when the comics do all brand new material, I sort of get the sense they go onstage and perform with the attitude that says “fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.”

I’m learning that just because a joke doesn’t work once doesn’t mean you throw it out.  My jokes never got the positive response I was hoping for when I first started, but I had the belief in self to keep pushing forward and doing the material over and over until it was of second nature to me.  You need to try that joke to different audiences on different nights to get a true barometer of whether it’s a keeper or a stinker.  Dez wants to chat with me about doing new material, and because it’s something that might define a shtick for me, I will be practicing it on my own and talking to Dez before I do it.

F.Y.I.  It’s about 3 minutes long but it has a main theme to it, with seperate jokes within the main topic to create some flow.  It even has audience participation… least it does for now……

Thanks again for following my blog and see you Monday night at Beilys!


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