Crunch Time Isn’t The Tastiest Time

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It’s a scene that I witness playing itself out every week at an open mic.  The comedians will greet one another, then usually pair off in groups and chat for a while.  Then, as showtime gets closer, many of the newer comics anyhow, will do something that puzzles me.  They start writing.

They don’t edit material, from what I can tell.  They start writing new material, and sometimes they try it out on stage that night.

Far be it from me to tell anybody how to go about their career path, but that doesn’t seem like the most efficient way of doing things.  I’ll tell you why, based on my experiences.

First of all, I wonder how many of them take comedy seriously, as in comedy the art form.  Do they write every day?  I get the impression with the way some of the newer acts feverishly write that they don’t write unless they are at a gig, or else…..well, I don’t know what to think, really.

First of all, if you are doing comedy, you should respect the stage, respect the audience and respect those that came before you (a couple of which don’t do any of the three).  Secondly, you need to write.  Don’t just write when you feel like it, because that rarely happens.  If the majority of us waited until we felt like doing things to get them done, it would be more of a mixed up world than it already is.

You should write every day, and set a block of time whether it be a couple of hours or even an hour, during lunch, after dinner, etc.  Every day.  Then, you’re writing without the pressure of showtime upon you.  Normally when we are pressed into action to leave things to the last minute, our minds sometimes won’t be as clear as they need to be, as the clock ticks down to showtime.  To me, that isn’t the right time to write out new material and try it on stage.

If you’re doing that, chances are you don’t have a set list created for that open mic (and by the way, if that’s how you prepare for an open mic, how are you going to look if you’re busy writing when you show up for a paid gig?)

I understand how to write, and that certainly helps.  When I write, I rarely try a joke on stage once it’s written, unless it comes to me from start to finish all at once.  But usually, I will write out my thoughts in long form.  Then I will go back and edit it, daily.  Multiple times a day.  The longer you look at something, the deeper you can veer into it.  Each time I say the joke out loud and I can see certain spots every time I look at it, where it needs to be edited.  Nobody telling me I’ve got an hour before showtime.  You are relaxed and can think more clearly, more objectively to see where the joke would need tweaking.

It doesn’t make sense to me how you can write a joke at an open mic and determine whether or not it’s a joke to use going forward based on only having a few minutes to write it.  You should always record your set, and if you really believe in the joke, try and make it better, work at it.  Sure, we are trying new jokes at an open mic, but at least they should sound like we’ve slaved away at them for hours and hours, not just thrown together at the last minute.

The audience deserves better, the art of comedy deserves better, and we should want to be better and hold our fellow comics to that same standard.

1 Comment

  1. Dylan
    Sep 4, 2018

    Hi Trevor,
    I agree with your views on rlwriting every day.. I think we all should try to write daily if possible.. However I disagree with your views on writing and trying new jokes at open mics.. I do some of my best writing before open mic shows, you have the energy of the crowd, the comics to bounce ideas off of, and a bit of pressure to get the creative juices flowing. If you think of something that you think is funny, why not try it out at an open mic?.. that’s what Open mics are for :).. I personally wouldn’t suggest toiling too long on a joke before trying it out on an audience.. if you’re shipwrecked (and all comics metaphorically are) would you check your compass before or after you start rowing for 3 days? We all know what jokes are but it’s hard to tell exactly what the audience is going to connect with.. Maybe it’s too Hacky and obvious… maybe it’s too obscure and niche… maybe it’s just not funny.. You’ll never know until you try it out and see if you’re going in the right direction. The audience doesn’t want to see he hard work behind the set, they want to see the fun that the comic is bringing to the room.. so have fun and take chances… that’s what Open Mic comedy is all about.. Hope to see you out at the Comedy Lab on Thursdays at the Crazy Cactus AND at Buds on Wednesdays. Let me hear your thoughts . -Dylan

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