I Shall Devine The Answer To This Question

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After two months of preparation and developing the material, convincing someone to let me perform, then getting a costume put together in one week on short notice, the first two performances of Carnac The Mediocre are in the books!

Even though I have only had two performances, they have been at two venues on opposite ends of the scale for audience reaction.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons between doing a character and doing regular stand-up.

Lesson #1:  Carnac has more laugh points than Trevor Dean.   For those of you unaware of the term, laugh points mean the laughs a comedian will get throughout the setup of the joke.  The comedian achieves laugh points best through timing of the material.  The laugh points come in handy when for whatever reason I have trouble getting the envelope open quickly.

Lesson #2:  Carnac commands the attention of the entire audience.  This is something nobody has seen or heard before in stand-up comedy in the province.  When it’s something new, the audience will give you their full, undivided attention right at the start.  The key words here are “at the start”.  It’s up to the performer on stage to get laughs right from the start and keep them coming consistently to keep that attention of everyone in the audience.  Watch the two videos then watch the videos of me from Buds and the Laugh Shop with Trevor Dean material.  You will notice that with my regular material you can hear people talking in the background.  With Carnac, the room is silent, even at Buds I had the entire room quiet and paying attention, even at the bar and at the very back of the room.  This is almost never the case when Trevor Dean material is done.

Plus, because of the format of the material, the audience is told at the start that the joke is told in reverse, so naturally the audience needs to be quiet so they can hear the punchline (answer), and they are quiet after Carnac delivers the “answer” because they need to keep that fresh in their minds to compare it to the question (setup) to make the connection that forms the joke.  Best part is, after the video at Buds you can hear people talking after each joke making comments.  Not only does Carnac get laughs on each joke, it makes people think too!

Lesson #3:  Carnac material packs more of a punch in a shorter time frame.  With Carnac jokes, the audience seems to enjoy listening to the material because the “answers” are short and only takes about 5 seconds to deliver.  Short setups plus short punchlines that work equal consistent laughs.

Lesson #4:  Writing material is super easy for Carnac.  Writing jokes in reverse is a great exercise to do.  I can’t explain how it became so easy for me to do.  I mean, it’s easy to think of a punchline. Then with the punchline out of the way and established, it sort of frees your mind in a way to explore different options and thinking outside the box to write the setup.  For example, if I have a joke topic of Mister Rodgers Neighbourhood, it would probably take Trevor Dean a good ten minutes or more to figure out how to make that funny.  Though in writing for Carnac’s voice, I put Mister Rodgers Neighbourhood as the punchline.

Instead of thinking how can I make Mister Rodgers Neighbourhood funny, I say to myself what might people refer to as Mister Rodgers Neighbourhood that is funny?  If you sit back and think it through, it will make sense to you.  It’s easier for you to be able to piece that together than me ramble on.

Lesson #5:  This Carnac character should be self-contained.  It’s easier to just have myself do everything instead of having a sidekick like the original Carnac did.  Having one person on stage instead of a sidekick with Carnac means it’s less confusing for the audience.  Sure, Carnac may have to explain things to the audience at the start, but they should be hearing from the comedian (Carnac) since that’s who they are there to see.

There is one more thing I want to say, and this kind of baffles me, but at the same time shows you what people are really like.  For some reason there are people that actually take offence to the fact I am trying something new and different.  It bothers some people that I get laughs from doing something nobody has seen before, and when nobody has seen it before people tend to pay more attention to it, especially when there are laugh points in the material.

I will address a couple of issues.  First of all, people accuse me of stealing material.  Let me be clear.  Each of the 50+ jokes written for Carnac are written by myself and my comedy coach.  Each is original and in the end, I have the final say of the finished product.  I guess some people are jealous that they can’t write that much material that works in that short of a time span with ease.

I was told the audience felt sorry for me at the first performance of Carnac.  I find that hard to believe.  The audience doesn’t lie.  I got laughs every joke.  The comedians I performed with that night appreciated it, so did the staff, and my friend purchased twenty tickets for his employees.  He took me to lunch because he said my performance made him look good.  Before somebody posts a comment like that, they should get their facts straight.  I have had nights as Trevor Dean where you could tell the audience felt sorry for me because the material wasn’t hitting the way it should have.  But how can the audience feel sorry for you when every single joke you tell gets laughs?

Maybe lose the ego and brush up on studying comedy before you spew useless garbage like that in my direction again.

Some have accused me of stealing the name.  I can do everything the same with my own material, but as long as I change the name of the character it now becomes a parody.  This means it escapes copyright infringement and I do not need written permission from the creator of the material.  You know who I got that golden nugget of wisdom from?  A former writer for the Tonight Show (my comedy coach).  Anybody who blows hot air saying I can’t be Carnac The Mediocre because it’s illegal HAS ZERO PROOF.  

The comedic value has also come into question of the material.  But the videos do not lie.  Every single joke gets laughs, and people do not talk overtop of my setups.  If you watch certain comedians, every joke they tell doesn’t get a laugh, and some bore the audience to the point where they start talking overtop of the setup.  I’ve had audiences do that to me lots, so I can understand where that criticism comes from.  However, I am not one to get offended like that.  What for?

There are a couple of comedians that I do not like, don’t respect and don’t trust.  Just two.  I don’t like watching them on stage, but at the same time I could care less if they get laughs or not.  It isn’t my concern how they get their laughs.  My concern is with my own set and how to make different audiences laugh at my material.

If I was a comedian that would tell me “hey, instead of being offended, maybe I should actually work at being funny.”  

When another comic shits on you for getting laughs, it’s their ego talking.  Maybe they are jealous and mad they didn’t have the common sense to come up with something that unique that people seem to like.  Yes, that may be a bit harsh, but seriously folks, I am doing nothing illegal nor anything wrong.  Certain people just do not want to see me succeed because it means they would actually have to work at being funny.

There are laughs for every comedian out there.  It’s just a matter of whether or not the comedian possesses the work ethic to make it happen.  I’m guessing some of them don’t, but it’s something I don’t lose sleep over.

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