Deal With It!

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I have wrote enough blog posts now over these months that I am starting to forget the topics I wrote about previous, because let’s face it, I am way too lazy to sift through my archives and keep track of topics so not to overlap.  If I do repeat topics, forgive me, but the only reason I may do a topic more than once is to give you fresh insight or perspective on a topic that I recently learned.  Today is one of those days.

There is a game show my dad got me watching on the W! Network (The Women’s Network – Channel 21 on cable I think).  It’s called “Deal With It”, an offshoot of the Just For Laughs program.  In it, an upscale restaurant is the scene.  I’d tell you the rest, but watch the link.  It’s only a minute long, and will help you get the gist of this blog. By the way, I think this game show is on Sundays.

Now, the title of the blog today is Deal With It, because I have the answer to the question that is most often asked of my performances.

“What do you do when you tell a joke, and nobody, I mean nobody is laughing, not even cracking a smile?”

You simply deal with it.

I had a situation last night where I was onstage, and I got nothing at all for the five minutes I was up there.  I have had many situations in my life where people don’t like me, and they tell me to my face, or make a scene thinking they are embarrassing me.  At the end of the day, I know my material works. I have proof that it does, although I have to admit it’s some sort of cosmic coincidence that every time I do very well, either two people or nobody at all (that I know) shows up to watch it  LOL.

You will normally test a joke out in front of several different audiences to get an idea of whether it works or not.  Each time you could play with the timing a bit or change the setup.  If it doesn’t work you need to have the confidence to keep on going.  If you are onstage, a joke bombs, and you show the audience that you let it get to you, at that instant you’ve lost the audience.  That is one of the things I have been complimented on is my confidence, the ability to not let a joke that didn’t work phase me at all.  Why should it?

I take a simple attitude to a joke not working, and it’s a truth I have come to realize.  This isn’t arrogance, it’s simply a truth once you understand how it’s applied.

if a joke doesn’t work on a particular audience on a particular day, the problem doesn’t lie with me, the problem is you

Trust me, I am hardly in a position to have an arrogant attitude towards anyone in comedy, given the road I’ve traveled to get this far.  But I know my material works because I have seen it work in the past.  I mentioned before that there are a myriad of reasons why someone won’t laugh when they watch comedy.  There are too many reasons to list, so why should a comic worry about finding one?  At the end of the day, it’s best to go to the next joke.

I’ve come to realize a truth about comedy that a headliner told me when I first got started.  I won’t say who he was, but he is not from Saskatoon.  He told me that if you want to do comedy, you need to go all in and devote time and effort to it.  You cannot do it half-assedly or on a part-time basis, working on it when your schedule allows you to.  If you do that, the audience will see it, you won’t get the laughs, then you will see it.  I remembered those words when I first met this headliner late last year and never forgot them, it’s just that now I am in a position to really understand what he meant.

Comedy seems to be one of those few pursuits in life that if you want to pursue, you either have to be devoted to it and work at it, or not bother trying because if you do it half-heartedly the audience will know it.  What’s worse though is that the other comics will know it and tear you a new one for making the show look bad.  Of course there are times when a comic just coasts and uses old material.  They get laughs without really trying, they could be better, but sometimes life, whether it be personal stuff, or just being tired and run down really does affect your performance, to the point where you are unable to write anything new, and you don’t bring any fresh enthusiasm to the stage.  Comics can be excused once in a while for falling into this, as with any other job, life sometimes does get in the way and affects what you do.  If you have had prior success though, you can be forgiven I think, of showing up without your “A” game and still getting the job done.

In my case, there are a couple of issues within my personal life that need to be cleared up before I can focus solely on the comedy.  I need to find a new place for the start of next month, and a job with full time hours.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my job now, but part time with no benefits isn’t something I can hang my hat on.  I will keep the part time job when I find a full time position, or maybe the part time could lead into full time.  At any rate, when those two situations clear themselves up, then I will be able to allow myself to focus on building the comedy once again, with the same passion and intent that I had when I first started last last year.  That dedication would be two-fold.  Not only to write more material, but to take what I already have and work it, either from a new point of view or to bring a new-found energy to it. Then I can enlist the help of my comedy coach to refine things.  My delivery of the material is becoming more consistent, but the results don’t match that same consistency as of yet.  With a bit of guidance and mentoring, this will change.

So basically, like anything in life you come up against, whether it be a joke not working, someone “dressing you down” in public or putting yourself in a position (in front of others) where things don’t turn out how you would hope, you need to “fake it until you make it”. meaning that you can’t let anybody else see on the outsidewhat you are feeling on the inside.  It’s about confidence and in turn looking at the audience and knowing they are the problem, not you.  If you take the same set list and perform it two different nights in front of two different audiences, and audience #2 likes it way more than audience #1 did, and you are confident in what you say and how you present it, you’d understand my point of view.

So until then……

deal with it

I need to play my Frogger scratch-and-win ticket and sleep in.  Writing these blogs til 4:30 a.m. gotta stop.  I’d like to think dating would be a better use of my time, but let’s face it….. if that really was the case, and my time was actually productive in dating, I’d have a lot less material to use onstage.




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