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Shame on you. That’s about all I can say. Shame on you for missing it.

Two Sundays ago at the weekly open mic night, the other comedians in attendance probably didn’t understand the significance of the moment, let alone why it happened. But my comedic training allowed me to recognize the moment in the instant that it happened, which made it that much sweeter. It made me feel like the smartest guy in the room, if only for a minute.

I had my choice of spots that I wanted to perform in. I chose to be the first one out of the gate. Out of the dozen or so comics that night, I was going to lead it off. Another comic said to me oh, so you’re gonna bite the bullet, hey? I know he was being playful with his comment, but I looked at him and confidently said “well, if you go up there and do your job, it’s really not biting the bullet at all.”

At first glance, comedy isn’t that hard, you’d think. All you have to do is go up on stage and get laughs. But, if you’re read even one post of this blog over the years, you would know that is not the case. There are many facets to a comedians performance.

What are some of the things a comedian has to ponder? Do they have a personality on stage? What is their point of view? Is it consistent throughout their act? Do they have timing? Are they clean? How does the audience see them? What is their opening line? Does the material flow? How can they bring the audience back in line if their act starts to go sideways?

I was leading off, after the hosts did their opening stuff, and Preston was after me. The hosts started talking about condoms, and I had a thought. So, I went up on stage and started my set like this:

Now, I too would like to talk about condoms. However, one of the first rules of comedy is to talk about what you know…….. (PAUSE PAUSE PAUSE) Sooooo, I’m kinda sad that the Sobeys by my house isn’t open 24/7 anymore

Part of being a comedian means that you stay in the moment and bring to light the obvious, or talk about what the host talked about and relate it to you. When I paused, the audience bought it, because I seemed relatable and authentic, and to think it only took a few years to get that way. Once you get an audience starting to laugh, it’s tough to make them stop laughing, unless you were the act that followed me, but more on that disappointment in a minute.

Once a comedian starts the audience laughing, the best way to keep them laughing is to insert laugh points into your material. Laugh points are basically parts of the setup that you enhance by taking advantage of knowing the audience laugh triggers and by utilizing the different comedy structures to create a joke within a joke, so to speak. The laugh points don’t have to be as solid as the punchline for laughs, but to get a reaction from the audience to keep them conditioned to laugh throughout the joke, so when it comes time for the punchline, those consistent laughs have already been established, making it easier for a bigger payoff in the end.

So, I did my six minutes. It went really well. About 2/3 of the way through my set, I was talking about a subject that’s a bit morbid/creepy (okay, okay, fine…I will tell you….it was about caskets). I started off by saying “if you don’t mind, this next bit is going to get a bit creepy”, and it got a good laugh (for obvious reasons, if you’ve watched me enough you would have figured it out by now).

So, I finished the set, but when I went behind the curtain to exit the stage, Preston was nowhere to be found. Cue the disappointment.

came wandering out of the crowd. Yeah, I called it an it. It’s supposed to be a guy dressed as a woman, make that, pretending to be a woman 24/7. It’s his new thing. Anyhow, it gets on stage and the first words out of its mouth were ewwww, ewwww, ewwwww (no laughs). Ewwwwwwww for the last guy on stage (no laughs)

It tried, once again, to trash me on stage and get some cheap laughs. It has been dong it for years, but this time, it didn’t work. No laughs. What did that prove? It proved that I did my job. I got laughs. It’s like my coach said, it’s impossible to dislike someone who makes you laugh. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, where some of my harshest critics have been silenced because of my ability to get my share of the laughs. I would like to talk more about what a disappointment it is, but I have better things to do. Let’s just say it has no coherent thoughts and is pretty vulgar and crude.

A couple of the newer comics have teased me on stage, and I am okay with that. But why? Well, for starters, they aren’t it. They are good guys and not genuine assholes off stage. I never thought I would see the day where it got to that point. It isn’t all sunshine and roses though. There are still a handful of comics in the province that I do not trust, or respect. They’re frauds, and if I am the only one who sees that, then so be it. One day their asshole ways will catch up to them.

I think the newer crop of comedians accept me as part of the group, but I’m not necessarily sure they understand the struggles of the ones who came before them, how bad and unprofessional the host was back then. Some nights the host was in no condition to be onstage, yet spent almost an hour opening and burnt the stage, meaning there were hardly any laughs, and the debacle went on for so long that when the other comics finally got on stage, the audience already checked out.

That night at Beilys where it did nothing but trash me after each comics set, everyone at my table, the friends I invited, were all laughing. Everyone was laughing, in part because I didn’t do my job that night in getting laughs. Then again, I was new, but still…..

People were looking at me to see how I would react. Any other comedian would have beaked off or left. I didn’t make a scene. I just sat there quietly and said to myself I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but there will come a day when I make you eat your words and turn this thing around.

I now know who I am. I am not setting the comedy scene on fire. The other headliners ignore me and will book other headliners or anyone else to open for them. I’ve never been asked to do a show other than open mics. Won’t get asked to host a show, and probably won’t ever get another relationship again. Yet I got interviewed for the first time recently, and was told that my interview ran a bit long, but it was so good, that none of it got edited out. Gee whiz, could it be that when given the opportunity, I can actually do a good job? shhhhhhhh, don’t let that get out

I would say that I have turned it around better than anyone could have expected. The whole Saskatoon comedy scene has turned around. I know my place within it, which is nowhere near the top or the middle, it’s near the bottom somewhere. Case in point, for two weeks I mentioned that I would show up earlier to the Sunday night show to lead a writing workshop. People know I have comedy training. Yet what happens? Only one person showed up (thank you Preston), two others asked how it was going, and when the comics get together before a show, none of them ask me about it. They write in their little groups.

I have just about zero faith that it will get any better (in terms of opportunity). Nobody will give a shit that I am trying to put together a writing group. But, at the same time, I know it won’t get any worse. No woman, no full time job, no opportunity in comedy. Yes, I paved the way for the new comics. No, I don’t get the respect that deserves, but why should I be surprised? The more you try sometimes, the more things will fall upon deaf ears.

Come out to a show. It’s like a dozen comics for five bucks, now that’s value you can’t get anyplace else in town. The hosts are better, the show is better, the comedians are better. I’m better.

But why take my word for it? Get off your ass and come support local comics who are making it happen.

What do you think?

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