The Great Plains Comedy Festival – The Tale of Two Crowds

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This blog should really be told in two parts, although they tie nicely together.  But before we get in to the meat and potatoes of tonight, I should start with a little preface to this all.

I was very much looking forward to my debut at the comedy festival.  They were giving me anywhere from 5 – 7 minutes of material and I translated that into 4 of my newest pieces of material.  However, upon getting there at 6:30, I realized that I was the only one there, as the show time was moved up to 8:30, which I wasn’t aware of.  So my friend came down too, soon followed by the other comics, and the show actually started a bit earlier than usual at 8:00 p.m.

Now, an amateur open mic night can be a blessing and a curse, as I know from experience!  No two comics are alike, so you could get a guy who has been at it for a while, like myself, to get up there then follow that with a guy who has never been onstage before and just starts cranking out the funny from the moment he opens his mouth.  This then begs the question as to why this is?  Well, although I am no expert, I have been in the comedy scene for eight months, so I feel a bit qualified to offer up an opinion.  This isn’t to say anything bad about my performances, but really, everyone is different, and until a person gets up onstage you never really know how the audience will react.

Add to that, the fact that my audience was pretty much the comics, my friend who showed up and a couple audience members who were watching for the first time.  Having an audience of just the comics can either be good, or bad, you just have to know how to deal with it.  For example, I have found that when the other comics listen to other headliners, they don’t usually make a chuckle, they may smile at something funny, but when it comes to other seasoned comics listening to their equally experienced counterparts, it’s one extreme or the other.  They will either give a really good laugh to what they hear, or nothing at all. There usually is no middle ground from what I have seen so far.  I was able to deliver the new material well, but it really didn’t get much of a reaction.  That was okay though, because I handled it well, and didn’t realize that my night was soon about to get better.

I was asked if I was going to the next show at the House Tap bar, and was told I should because I could get some stage time there too.  Well, it was a bit of a jaunt to the car, as I parked a couple blocks from the city hospital, and walked to the downtown library for the afternoon (ahh….the benefits of doing shiftwork and having a day off), so it was a bit of a jog, found myself winded which isn’t a surprise, considering the fact I am now 39 years old.

A guy I went to high school with owns the place, and another friend from high school worked the door, so that gave me a comforting feeling right off the bat, although it meant that people there already knew who I was (not comedy related), so there were probably expectations already.  But that was okay, because I really liked the new material that I wrote and was confident it would fly.

Even with that confidence I still changed the order up somewhat of my set list.  I took out the opening joke from the comedy club and replaced it with a good opening one that works.  But before I did that, I had an idea pop into my head right when I took the mic, and I ran with it.

I remembered that I went to school with the owner of the bar, and with the guy who worked the door.  It has been said that within the first few seconds of taking the stage, you should tell a little side joke, just to get the audiences attention, to get them laughing and on your side.  So, I talked about the owner, his doorman and myself in high school.  Sure, the story was fabricated, and the owner afterwards thought it was good, but I could see the crowd all look over at the owner (he knew a good chunk of the crowd already there) and laughed.  That got me on their good side and we rode it right til the end.  Sure, the last joke I had that I thought had enough legs to close with, didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, but it was a great audience.  Right from the opening comic, they laughed at everything all the way through the night.  I mean, us comics have played some shit shows for some shitty, drunk and unappreciative audiences, but these guys tonight were great right from the start.  It was the best reception I’ve ever been given thus far. I liked it.  Plus, people in the audience later on came up to me and said so themselves.  Maybe they were like that towards me because west side bars don’t often see comedic talent, so they are more appreciative of it?  Who knows….although the comics afterwards said it was getting better.  That’s good, because usually the only thing they tell me at the end of the night after I’ve been onstage is “thanks for coming out, see you again soon.”

Now, there was yet a midnight show at the comedy club, which I am sure could still be going on as we speak (it’s 1:20 a.m. now).  I thought about joining the gang down there for another show, maybe do another set, but sometimes it’s like they say, if you think you are nearing the end, and one joke gets a really big bang, sometimes you get out while the iron is still hot, so you cut your time short and say your goodnights.  Sometimes that is a good plan to follow.  It’s not saying that I am that bad, but sometimes it’s easier with comedy to exit a bit earlier than you thought when things have gone well, as opposed to staying on a joke or two longer only to have the audience reaction simmer down.

But tonight overall was great.  It gave me a chance to watch a couple of headliners I haven’t seen before, see how they work, and run into some of the stalwarts of the Saskatoon comedy scene once again.  I have been around them enough that we are able to have conversations about things other than comedy, which is kind of cool.

For those of you who haven’t been to a festival show yet, all I can say is shame on you!  It’s a party atmosphere when you get around that assembly of comics from all over.  It’s a great time and brings an invigorating and renewing energy to the performers.

What an amazing night.  I am proud to say that I am not only part of the Saskatoon comedy scene, but I am showing visible signs of improvement.  To my friend who had to leave early, I understand you had other commitments that lead you to leave, but you and lots of others missed out on one hell of a night at the House Tap bar.

This has been a good week so far.  I am going heading to sleep now feeling good about who I am and the road I’ve taken to have success, albeit limited, in stand-up comedy.  Now, if only I could get a date and find a new place to live for the end of the month…..

Again as always, your comments are welcomed and appreciated.  There should be a comments link right below the title of this blog that you can click on.

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