Which Came First, The Chicken Or The Comedian?

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Here’s one thing I’ve never been able to understand.  If you are serious about comedy, like serious enough where you don’t screw around on stage, you’re there with a purpose and do actual material with timing and polish, if you actually take comedy seriously enough where you can set your ego aside to do the work (writing and rehearsal everyday), what’s the one thing every comedian would want?  I’m thinking it would be to get in front of a great comedy audience at a great comedy venue.

So when a comedian has the opportunity to get in front of a great comedy audience in a great comedy venue, why wouldn’t you take that chance?  What if the great comedy venues in question are in Los Angeles, where there are dozens of open mics every night of the week? Let’s say you are on vacation in Los Angeles.  If you are a great comic in your own mind, why wouldn’t you take an hour or two out of your vacation to go and do open mics in Los Angeles?  Why wouldn’t you submit your package (including video clips, blog if you have one, bio, headshots) to clubs close to where you are, to see if you could get a paid gig while you are there?  I know comics who have gone on vacation to California (not necessarily L.A.) and never did open mics.  I believe there is one reason why.

a lack of confidence

Sure, getting on stage at a fundraiser or weekly open mics in Saskatchewan, even if it’s a different venue or a different type of audience, you still have that belief that things will go well because you are in familiar surroundings.  But what if you go to another country and play in some of the top clubs in California?

Fortunately, I believe that I don’t have an ego that some comedians around here have.  I don’t write slanderous comments online, nor do I write anonymous comments either.  I don’t bully other comics, and I don’t trash them onstage either.

The one thing that I am proud to say is that during my 5.5 years in comedy, I’ve managed to stay true to myself.  That means who I am on stage is who I am after the show.  I don’t appear to be likeable on stage then turn around and bully other comedians online.

The one thing I have is a belief in my material that it can work anywhere, at any time.  I am not afraid of failure.  I don’t have this perfect image where I can’t be teased (there is a difference between being teased and being bullied or slandered).

Thanks to the comedy coaching I’ve received over these past few years, I am finally starting to write about virtually anything I want, not having to pigeonhole myself limiting my material to only one or two topics.

My hard work and writing has been rewarded, as next month I will be traveling to Los Angeles.  I have a spot lined up for me at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, and at The Stand-up Comedy Clinic, where I get to perform in front of his students.

If other comedians think they are better than me, that very well may be true.  So why don’t they show it?  There are some who are better performers, who have material that creates bigger laughs, I don’t deny that.  But does a possible fear of failure keep them from trying to send their package to L.A. clubs to get paid gigs?

I sent my package to clubs throughout southern California and Los Angeles, and received favourable feedback.  One club has already offered me a paid spot at their show that isn’t an open mic.  Another club wants a completely clean 5 minute set, which I will be recording this Sunday night.  I feel it’s easier to record a five minute set rather than go through my videos and edit a clean five minutes from the middle of a performance.  This way, the comedy club can see my act from start to finish, even though it’s only five minutes.  The open mics in Los Angeles are anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes per comedian.

It’s funny.  As comedians in Saskatoon, there aren’t many opportunities for shows outside of the regular open mics, whether they be corporate shows, fundraisers, trade shows or opening for a major act.  I will admit that at times I have been jealous or envious of another local comedian who gets one of these opportunities. Sometimes I wonder “how did they get so lucky?”  I might ask them, and I may even be in attendance to watch their set.  But the one thing I won’t do is get on social media and try and rip that comedian for getting that opportunity.

If anything, it should give other comedians motivation to write better and really try to hone their act.  Human nature does say that’s easier said than done.  I am fully aware of that.  But any feelings of jealousy or envy that I may have, I keep to myself or I may let my close friends know, but I certainly don’t get on social media and try to deny them of their moment in the sun, regardless of whether or not we feel they deserved it.

Maybe we feel if a comic gets a gig that is a pretty big deal, that they might get too big and leave the other comics behind, meaning they won’t be included in future opportunities if that comic received more.

Again, it’s human nature to think that.  However, when I started comedy all those years ago, I remember it being more of a team atmosphere where we rooted for each other to succeed.  Now, 5.5 years later that’s the complete opposite of what I’ve witnessed.  Online bullying, anonymous tweets or blog comments that are divisive, slanderous and hurtful in nature, comics talking behind each others backs and comics trashing other comics on stage, or having comedians in the audience disrespect the performer on stage and beak at the comedian throughout their set.

It’s sad that I have to go to Los Angeles to remember what it’s like to be in a supportive environment with other comedians who root for you to succeed.

I may not be setting the world on fire, but I am not as bad as I used to be, and I’m certainly not afraid to fail on stage, in part because I believe that I won’t.  I know how the audience sees me on stage, so it’s easy to come up with contingency plans if things go awry.

To be honest, failing on stage doesn’t bother me.  The thought of failing on stage doesn’t bother me.  What does bother me is that I leave that venue without the support of my family or a loved one.

If I was able to get one of those big opportunities for a show that just seem to come from out of the blue, I wonder how the other comedians in the city would react to me?  The only way to find out is to keep writing more than any comic in this city, and keep editing the material and rehearsing every single day.  Then we will see who my real friends are.

1 Comment

  1. Vern
    Apr 23, 2017

    When people attack you, it about them…not you!
    It says so much more about who they are as a person, than about you!
    How you react is the only thing you own in these situations.
    You my friend, just keep on going, and for that you will be rewarded!

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