Do Loose Lips Sink Ships?

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I used to be a karaoke DJ for several years for a few different venues in the city over the last several years.  During that time I really enjoyed what I was doing and was very comfortable interacting with the crowd.  This meant I was able to use my quick wit to converse with the customers when needed.  Doing this came easy for me because I’ve done karaoke for so many years it’s a very comfortable environment.  It also helps me that I am a good singer as well, thus giving me confidence.  Ah, yes….the “C” word……

Confidence is a funny thing.  One would assume that confidence would be able to spill over into other areas of your life that you aren’t as successful in.  But human beings are funny creatures; we don’t always do what is perceived to be the obvious or right move at the time.  Plus, with the way society is today and with the prevalence of social media in our lives, if you have a lack of confidence for whatever reason in a particular area, others will certainly let you know about it. Regardless of the relationship you have with those people, they could be strangers as well but there is almost certainly going to be somebody that rains on your parade just when you thought the blue skies were coming out.

Just because I am confident at interacting with the crowd at karaoke, certainly I shouldn’t have a problem interacting with the crowd when I am doing comedy on stage, right?

um……nope

I mentioned to my comedy coach that I find it difficult, somewhat intimidating even, to interact with the audience.  Part of the reason is that the audience is at a comedy show to have a good time.  How do you have a good time at a comedy show?  By laughing.  I struggled for so many months trying to be funny on a consistent basis that I am unsure at times of how to interact with the audience during my set.  

The one time I did interact with the audience and did reasonably well is during a recent fundraiser where I was half-way to being three sheets to the wind.  That loosened me up and gave me the ability to improvise a tiny bit.  When I went up on stage, that joke about the plenty of fish profiles wasn’t even written into my set, yet when I got up on stage that is the first thing that entered my mind.  Maybe that’s because I was half cut, but hopefully with more consistent performances I can be more relaxed on stage and be able to interact with the audience better.

While it does boil down to confidence, I am starting to be more confident on stage as the consistency of my sets improves.  I guess the best way to explain it is that I don’t believe the same things I did at karaoke would work on a comedy stage when interacting with the crowd.  But my comedy coach told me one thing from our last session that I don’t necessarily remember when I am on stage.

He said that as a comic, you have to say things as they are.  In other words, if a situation is happening within the audience that takes away from your set, address it.  Call out the elephant in the room.  Just by drawing attention to it, you will get some laughs.  For example, if you watch the video posted to the comedy page, the one lady in the audience was talking to me during one of my jokes.  It ruined the joke because she yapped in the crucial space between the setup and the punchline (known as timing).  I was clearly razzled and didn’t react well.  

This same lady tried to talk when a headliner was on stage after me.  He simply stopped his joke, looked at her and told her to be quiet because she already had her stage time.  He called the situation out and talked about it.  Nothing funny needed to be thought of to be said, because just the fact the comedian made mention of it got laughs.

I am starting to talk with the audience a bit during my set, but it’s something I am still not comfortable with. At the end of the day, dealing with hecklers/interruptions during your set takes an instinct.  That comes from knowing your audience, which comes from experience.  

I guess the good thing about not being good at interacting with the audience yet is that I have jokes in my back pocket if I ever need to use them that can bring an audience back around.  They are jokes I know work that always get a laugh. Sometimes as a comic, you can get the best laughs when you have that “human” moment, where you go outside of your material and just call things out for what they are.  Since the woman who interrupted me was Ukrainian, and the joke I was telling was about my Ukrainian heritage, I could have went a few different ways with that joke and get some good laughs from it.  But, that didn’t happen.  Shit!  Why do I think about these things until after the fact?

Maybe I freeze when I am on stage too because if I try to venture outside of my material, unlike karaoke you are on a clock, and the more time you take with the audience the less time for your material.  So on the one hand you want to get through your material but on the other you’re clearly annoyed by interruptions that are you aren’t quite prepared to handle.

Like I said, I’m not perfect and learning and making mistakes is all part of the journey.  Thanks again for reading and watch for my next posting after my maiden voyage into the Pass The Hat show on the 19th!

Be blessed!

 

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