Backyard Boundaries

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How times have changed.

It used to be that a backyard gathering of friends was something to look forward to.  It took planning, which meant you prepared for the elements, made sure you had beverages and/or snacks, or having a fire ready to go, if within applicable hours as dictated in the bylaw while using proper materials.

But as you get older, you come to realize that maybe the backyard gatherings aren’t all they are cracked up to be.  It eventually becomes about quality over quantity, meaning the quality of the company trumps the fact you host a social evening in the backyard.

Maybe the same holds true for comedy, at least for me.

An Edmonton comic started doing backyard shows and the idea landed in Saskatoon.  They seem to be popular.  But in terms of comedians, are they for everyone?

There are two of these backyard shows in town that are run by two comics.  Both don’t have an interest in having me on.

The one show is run by a specific group of comics, and they are clean enough with the material that they make a go of it.  The other backyard show seems to favour the younger crowd, who obviously wants anything but clean comedy.

I have access to many headliners outside of the province who can mentor and help guide me.  One of them recently said that while the backyard shows are a cool idea, at the same time they weren’t for him.  So that made me sit back and think about what he said.  This particular headliner is more adept and comfortable with corporate shows, and that’s fine.  The backyard show is quite the event that’s different from a comedy stage, at least that’s what I think, considering I’m not being asked.

So the question becomes do I want to do backyard shows if the crowd wants anything but clean material?  Nope.  Would I want to be a part of the other backyard shows?  Nope.  They only have room for those in their clique and nobody else.

So that leaves me where I am, and that isn’t a bad thing as I am beginning to realize.

As stated before, because of my comedy training over the years, I am able to crank out material quicker than most.  I can start writing comedy about anything because I know the structure of how to write.  Now, does that mean I want to write about every subject imaginable and make it dirty and clean for two separate takes?  No.  Just because you have the ability to create material on anything, doesn’t mean that you should.  I need to pick my spots and write about what’s relevant to me, and about what I can “sell” to the audience for them to believe me.

I currently am sitting on a few dozen pages of material that date back to early last year.  I am like all the other local comics in the sense that most of these pages are still a rough, first draft.  You write down the idea as it comes to you.  The challenge then becomes to edit the material, to pare down into something workable, if you know how.  Most do not.  Then it becomes a matter of motivation.

Due to my training, I am probably the only comic around that will know if a bit will work on stage before using it because I can identify the structure within the joke.  I know at what point the laughs will come in and have rehearsed it enough to get the timing down.  Now, does that always mean the material kills?  No.  Sometimes it needs to be edited some more, but again sometimes it comes down to motivation.

I think I’m the only comic around here that uses laugh points in their material.  You shouldn’t write just to get the laughs at the punchline.  Work harder to find the funny during the setup as well.

At first I was disappointed, then frustrated about being left out of the backyard shows.  I thought about asking publicly about the selection process but after a while, it just didn’t matter.  I am okay with sitting on the sidelines, hell, more like not even being given a ticket to get into the stadium.  I’m okay with that while I bide my time and get my material better.  When live shows do come back to audiences that attend, my material will be the most diverse and the most interesting.  Whether it’s the most funny or not, well, that’s for the audience to decide.  🙂

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