There’s More To Think About Than Just Being Funny

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As mentioned before, I will be making my return yet again to the Saskatoon comedy stage on November 7th & 8th at The Laugh Shop. I get the same question all the time.  “Aren’t you excited?”

Honestly?  No

It’s a combination of hurt, determination, inadequacy and anger.

When I first started into comedy I was responsible for bringing out quite a few people to the shows.  My friends always had the same reactions after each show.  Whether they realized it or not, they told every other comic how funny they were, then they saved their last goodbye of the evening for me.  But they only thanked me for inviting them before leaving.  Every time.  For about a year.

They were of the opinion that I wouldn’t be able to handle the truth about my progress back then.  I look at it from the point of view that my friends didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt to be able to handle their criticism constructively and not have it affect the friendship.  Maybe from their point of view they didn’t want to hurt my feelings and was unsure of how I would react to their honest assessment.  We will never know what would have happened, because they never told me.  Maybe I would have taken their comments in a mature manner, maybe not?  It’s hard to say what you could have done in the past.  The best thing is to move forward.

That’s exactly what I did.  After exhausting my options in Saskatoon, I spent the next nine months without a comedy show.  I sometimes felt like a phony writing a comedy blog every month about nothing, especially when there was nothing on the horizon for me.  That covers the determination and hurt part of the equation thus far.  Obviously hurt because of what had transpired, and determined because I continued to write and figured out how to write in my own voice to get the laughs.

Determined and also angry in a sense because I wanted the approval from my friends so much.  It’s great that they support me, but that support in comedy will only take a person so far, especially if they aren’t that funny.  Then you’re screwed.  Trust me, it’s an awkward moment at the end of the show when your friends meet up with you, after you “shit the bed” by not getting any laughs at all.

After the comeback set that was co-written with myself and the comedy coach, it took an additional six months after that to learn how to write for myself.  Now armed with that knowledge, I just went to work and started to write, knowing that material I wrote would work on stage.  No longer did I have to be like a lot of comics who write something and don’t know if it will work on stage.  Now that I was learning the comedy structures, I had the ability to make anything funny.

So, if we covered the first three emotions, then where does inadequacy fit into all of this?

It started back in the karaoke leagues of the day, seeing everyone around me sing better than me and score higher than me.  Year after year, no matter what I sang, or the performance I put on, it never managed to measure up against the others.  Sure, it was demoralizing but I kept at it anyway.  Then, I managed my first top-5 finish in a particular week and received the award for the most entertaining performance.  So I conquered that mountain and moved on to comedy.

Well, with the comedy I saw lots of guys around me get opportunity while I sat idly by and waited for my chance.  Then some friends of mine got into music with some bands and had success with big gigs and good crowds.  That made me feel even more out of place, like I didn’t belong with this group of friends because I wasn’t very successful at pursuing performance goals like they were.

But now, after eating all the shit, after seeing everyone else have success and good fortune come to them, it’s finally my turn.  It’s finally my fucking turn.

But in waiting for my turn, I put myself out there on the biggest stage of all, the comedy stage.  No band to back you up, nobody to help you if you fail.  This comes with an entirely new set of challenges or problems, depending on how you choose to look at it.

If you think it’s the job of the MC to only make you laugh, you’re shortsighted.

I can tell you from experience that the main job of the MC is to warm up the crowd, to make them laugh.  If the MC is shit, then it makes the headliners job that much more difficult to win the crowd over and get them laughing.  I will have 5 to 10 minutes of material to do, in addition to promoting upcoming events at the hotel and promoting future shows as well.  If the host isn’t funny, that means the headliners have a tough job winning over the crowd.  It also means that most of what the host will say falls upon deaf ears.  Once the MC proves they aren’t able to get laughs, the audience will tune you out quickly.  You could tell them the sky was falling, and they wouldn’t move….all because you weren’t effective in your duties as host right from the start.

I can’t remember the names of the co-headliners for the nights I work, but they aren’t names familiar to me.  At any rate, I don’t know if these guys are the type to rip the MC a new one if he’s failing to get laughs.  Maybe these guys aren’t like that, but I don’t really want to take the chance of finding out for sure.  I want to be able to get the laughs, keep the audience engaged as part of the show, keep them smiling, in a good mood and attentive. Then followed up at the end of the show by receiving positive comments and feedback on how much the audience enjoyed the show.  The audience, being made up partly of my friends, telling me that I did a good job as host, and that I was funny.

It’s what I want.  It’s what I feel I deserve after all the hours of work I’ve put into this.  Now I have several weeks to pull up the boot straps and get to work building a set for the agency, their customers, my friends and for my comedy coach to be proud of.

Let the countdown begin……

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