Monkey See, Monkey Do…….Right?

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Let’s say you go to the toy section of a department store and you want to purchase a puzzle.  You think that you have an idea what the finished puzzle will look like based on the box, but at some point of putting the puzzle together, whether it be the beginning, the middle or the end, the puzzle pieces change on you.  Now they don’t fit properly when you could have sworn at the start you had all the pieces to complete the puzzle.  Some people will try to force those pieces to fit, while some maybe get discouraged and throw out that puzzle to buy a new one, hoping their luck will change.

I’ve found that stand-up comedy is very much like this puzzle.  I did my very first Pass The Hat show in Regina over the weekend, and I certainly came away with regaining the respect of the local Regina comics.  However, at the same time I came away from that show asking a question that doesn’t have a clear cut answer at first glance.

My set had some new material and some reworked material in the five minutes I did.  My life coach has said before that if you want to be successful in a certain area, you should find somebody who is successful in that area and try to emulate some of the things that person does.  I taped a couple of sets of other comics, as my girlfriend was unable to come with me, and I wanted to show her the unique atmosphere that only a Pass The Hat show can provide.

So, to get back to the question, it’s simply this.

If I was to take the material of another comic (who gets more laughs), and read it verbatim, would I get the same laughs, or any laughs at all?

I am wondering out loud about this because the more I watched this headliners set over and over again, the thought creeped into my head that maybe I could get more emotionally connected to my material, or change the material to evoke that emotion where the comic looks to be clearly agitated.  It’s true that the only time I was like that onstage, I won a preliminary night of a comedy competition for newbies when I first started.  Then again, there was less than a dozen people in the audience and at least half were my friends.  My friends knew me well enough to connect to the material, so would an audience full of strangers react in the same fashion?

This headliner really sold his material when he became clearly agitated.  Maybe that’s because he is a bigger guy and getting agitated was a natural reaction that people believed.  Let’s face it, if I tried to act the same way onstage it probably wouldn’t come off the same, thus the laughs may be different.

I’ve managed to come up with a couple ideas of topical stuff, and I will maybe try to work the self-deprecation into the material that way as opposed to just talking about my everyday life and find the funny in that.

Even though Pass The Hat was a smaller crowd in a more intimate setting, it seems like the last few sets have been consistent with the laughs, meaning every joke doesn’t get consistent laughs, but I do get laughs on each bit that I do.  It might be time to change things up in that regard.

It’s no secret now that I may get an MC gig at a comedy club in the near future (just waiting for the official confirmation). If that’s the case, I will need to overhaul my material and come up with not only new material, but a different approach to the material because being the host means you need to engage the audience more in your act.  The host has a huge responsibility to make the audience feel like they are a part of the show.  That’s something I have not been able to do with a lot of success over the last three years, but it’s still a work in progress.

Now that I have the ability to write comedy about anything and know it will be funny before I hit the stage, I should be able to change up the material and go in a different direction while sticking with the self-deprecation theme.  Stay tuned…..this question may linger for a while.

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