Do I Love The Skin I’m In?

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Recently I came up with a great idea for a half hour set that I can use in the fall.  While the specifics will remain under wraps for now, suffice it to say this material will examine very closely the last few years of my life and the struggles they highlight.

Will the material created from this period be funny?  I believe it will be.  But how do I present it to be funny?

That’s been the biggest challenge for me lately is how to make it funny on stage.  I’ve performed at both bars and comedy clubs.  Some nights I’ve able to be rather playful and relaxed, other nights I can be emotional, direct and a bit animated.  But the laughs haven’t been consistent with either one approach or the other.  If I am too playful and relaxed it may come across as being aloof and not believable.  If I go in the opposite direction it may come across as being angry or sarcastic, thereby killing my ability to be credible while being authentic on stage.

I was told recently that I gotta have fun with it.  Well, I do have fun with it.  The problem is when the audience is flat and it takes a bit for you to pick up steam, which method do you employ to reel them in?

I’ve watched a few of my favourite pros lately on YouTube and they all appear to have fun with their material, yet they go about it in different ways.  Some are self-deprecating to the point where the laugh trigger of recognition or release kicks in.  Some are self-deprecating while being a bit “blue”, so the laugh trigger of surprise kicks in.  Regardless of the approach used these comics tend to use the configurational comedy style to generate laughs (configurational meaning two or more dissimilar ideas grouped together).

In the limited success I’ve had, I cannot say there is a surefire formula that I have followed every time for success.  Even after almost five years there’s starting to be a consistency to my sets but nothing as far as a kick ass set goes that stands out to act as a signpost for future success.  It just hasn’t worked out like that for me.

Part of the problem is that I do not have a consistent mindset going up on stage either.  Life has put the squeeze on me pretty good over the last year or two so at times I get up on stage somewhat agitated, sarcastic or just plain angry looking to vent.  Then I will end up choosing the wrong style of delivery for the material, and I wonder why it doesn’t work?

I need some stability within my life, I think that would help me a lot.  When I rehearse the material and can keep a level head before I go on stage, then it’s easier to recall the way in which it was rehearsed.  Right now my life isn’t necessarily stable.  True, I do not have the daily stresses of work at the moment but family and personal shit going on are adding to the unstability within my life, even though it makes for good material.

I don’t have that light at the end of the tunnel that I feel like I need at times.  The right person, with the right words, at the right moment.  That has escaped me for a long time now.  A very long time.  Stability would lead to happiness.  Happiness would lead to confidence.  Confidence would lead to better writing.  Better writing would lead to spirited and motivated rehearsals, which hopefully translates to success on stage.  This instability makes it a bit tough to sit down and write lately.

The fall is an opportunity for me to hit the ground running after my summer break.  There is the local comedy festival that runs for two weeks in September as well as the pro comedy club I should work my way back into the rotation, providing the material is solid.

My life is highlighted by struggle.  I get that.  But after a while I had hoped that comedy would be sort of a refuge for me, where I can step out of myself for a while and be somebody else looking at my struggles and laughing about it.  The more life put the squeeze on me, the more my personal shit spilled over into my preparation for my sets.  These last twelve months or so I’ve not had the success I’m capable of attaining, I believe, because of this outside shit that either refuses to fix itself or it refuses to allow being fixed.

I will be honest, it makes comedy not that much fun.  I have little motivation to write, rehearse or to get on stage.  I got into comedy because I thought it would be fun.  Now with the shit that certain people and situations have caused, it’s turned into more of a war of attrition.  That’s bullshit.  It’s not fair and certainly not what I signed up for.  I’ll say it again.  If I knew these last twelve months would be such a gong show at times (regardless of its origin), after 4.5 years of this, I might be inclined to say fuck it and not even bother.

It really sucks and what’s worse is the people I need to have them understand this aren’t in a position to give a shit either now, or ever.

This sucks.  It really, fucking sucks.  So now what do I do?  I wish that I knew but after investing over 4.5 years into this, it’s foolhardy of me to choose to walk away at this point.  It’s frustrating.  I should be better than what I am, but I’m not.  I should be receiving opportunity, but I’m not because of my limited success, or lack thereof.  I should be able to get people out to my shows, since I can count on one hand the number of people who have in the last year, but I can’t.  I wish that I had the answers, but I don’t.  The ones who are in a position to help and make a difference can’t, or they won’t, with the exception of my coach in Los Angeles.

I will figure it out one day.  It just would be great to have some help, for someone to maybe be proactive and offer assistance.

Unstability should only be for fault lines in earthquakes.  Unstability shouldn’t be how my life is characterized at 43 years of age after the last twelve months especially.

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