Wednesday, August 27, 2008


My first gig proved to be a success. The event's organizer was thrilled with our performance and said everyone enjoyed our show. The crowd was about 80 successful businessmen and women and I hosted. What kind of threw me off was that the event's emcee was really funny. He knew everyone and jabbed at all of them. It was nerve racking having to follow that. So I was introduced, did a few jokes and introduced each comic. The comics loved performing for this crowd. They were attentive and had a great collective sense of humor.
Now, the show didnt quite bring on the type of success I was hoping for (at least not yet). I was expecting to be able to network and get some leads for future gigs that night, but after our show, the band they hired stole the show and everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves. So I simply hounded the organizer for the pay and went on my way. I left a nice big stack of cards for them to take so maybe Ill get a few calls soon. The other comics were to bring DVDs to sell, but didnt. Not sure why.
This show did bring on some success other than the immediate praise from the organizer that night. Two of the comics performing that night are part of a group and are working to form an official standup comedy company. They told me they were very impressed with the level of show I was able to put together and sort of invited me to join them. I say sort of because they didnt outright ask me to join them. I simply went over to their home and we discussed quite a few ideas regarding getting more exposure. My concern with the group is that there may be too many mouths to feed. I considered declining the offer, but then i thought, 'what am i doing to help myself?' Nothing. At least being included in a group can keep me a bit busy creatively with little projects and instead of just me looking for work, theres four of us working for a common goal- RECOGNITION.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My first Gig!

I'm partnering up with a business networking group for their annual banquet. They've decided to offer me a half hour block to showcase my comedy. Since I dont have 30 minutes of (good) material, I've invited a group of comics that Ive worked with. They've offered me stage time when they had shows, so I felt obligated to reciprocate. This business group is offering to take pretty good care of us. Dinner and drinks will be taken care of for all of us and they'll have a table for us to put out merchandise and are allowing us to pass out flyers and cards. To top it all off, they're paying me! I guess this is pretty standard stuff, but usually no one wants to pay us, and we have to beg for food. What we're really looking to get out of this is more work. This sounds like an incredible opportunity to showcase to 150 different local business owners. We'll see how it goes.

Carlin's dead, Im not

I AM still alive, incase any of the zero readers were wondering. I just got really lazy about posting since I havent been getting on stage. I'd like to say I havent had time to get onstage due to my 2 jobs, but that would be a major cop out. It's a very minor obstacle to simply ask for a monday night off. Truth is, I've been procrastinating and allowing my stage fright to come up with excuses.
I have been going to shows and have found a couple places I'd like to perform at soon. Only problem is, its a bar scene and its really hard to get ppls attention. People dont go to a bar to see a comedy show. They go to drink and socialize. I'd have a really big problem if I was a patron of the bar trying to talk with friends or maybe flirt with a couple ladies (shh dont tell my wife), and some guy with a mic started shhshing me because I was interrupting the show. No, Im not interupting the show, you are interupting my 'game'. So there's another EXCUSE for me not trying to take the stage at the only available open mics in town. So tell me Roly, when the FUCK are you going to get stagetime.
I think that last paragraph was all over the place, but somehow it makes sense to me. And since im the only one that reads this, I wont be editing. I refuse to conform. But Im sure most comics would agree it sucks to have to perform on a milkcrate in the middle of a bar and no one paying attention. And most comics would still take the stage simply because its all we can get. So, snap out of it! Take the stage already.
George Carlin passed away recently and through the countless specials dedicated to carlin, I learned a bit more about him and comedy in general. About him, I learned that we were kind of similar in our approach to the craft. Turns out, he'd been keeping a journal since the beginning of his career. Sound familiar? Here I am thinking Im doing something revolutionary, offering my future fans a glimpse into the life of a beginning comic and how he made it big when all along, Carlin had beat me to the punch.
I also learned a bit more about comedy writing in general through these Carlin specials. Essentially there are 2 kinds of standup writers. Wordsmiths, as Carlin and I are. (Dont slam me. I know im not, or ever will be in the same level as Carlin) Every word he spoke onstage was carefully and meticulous crafted to perfect his bits. The other kind of writer is the ranter. Basically a ranter thinks up a topic the s/he finds interesting and tries to make it funny without sitting down and actually crafting a joke. They get on stage and just talk about nuances and its usually a hack topic. It may sound like im slamming this style and Im truly trying not to. I know it wont work for me and frankly, I think its a lazy approach. It usually works well with audiences if the comic has some personality, but I imagine it would work so much better if the comic put some time and effort into what he's going to say. As I write this, I have 1 particular comic in mind. Its a local comic who Ive worked with and have become good aquaintances with. He's been doing this alot longer than I have, so who am I to tell him how to write. It does kind of bother me tho, that he thinks thats the only way to do it. So, of course, he pushes that approach on me. I can never get behind a micstand with knowing exactly what Im going to say. My performance anxiety would never allow me to attempt it. Hopefully, I can get over my stage fright, because the open-minded part of me would like to try that approach. It may work well for my act to mix it up. Well, the family just arrived so I've completely lost my train of thought. I'll wrap this one up and hopefully my next entry will include a story about me onstage.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Host with the Most

As mentioned in my last post, I was offered a host gig for earlier this month. The show went great. I had quite a few friends come see me perform for the first time and afterward, they said the show was good. It didn'nt get off to a great start in my opinion though. The first joke on my set fell flat, and the second was well on its way. But somehow an amish discovering an elevator 'fountain of youth' brought everyone together. The next couple jokes received good responses, but my last once had everyone laughing hysterically. And just as I was starting to get comfortable, I had to make way and bring up the performers. The show had 6 comics including a headliner and a feature. Due to time constraints, I was limited to just plugging and introducing the comics, with no room for my own material. Somehow, tho, I was able to get a great zinger on my best friend- who's wife just gave birth to MY third child--- The crowd enjoyed it, and my friend couldnt stop laughing. Beside that joke, I had gotten into a bit of a role of simply moving the show along and getting the comics onstage. But when it was time to introduce the headliner, he was nowhere to be found. So Im onstage plugging his work and right before I mention his name, I see alot of movement in the back of the room. A couple of comics had been trying to get my attention so I can stretch my time while they find the headliner. They were all doing sign language, giving me different signals- which all happen to mean the same thing. So the audience noticed the slight gliche, of course. Its hard not to notice when your headliner is introduced, but your host is still up there stuttering and stumbling along. But its ok. I did a bit about elephant rape (not raping an elephant- that would be wrong. Getting raped by an elephant). That bit got great response and behold, the headliner appears just as the laughter starts to die down. That last joke provided me a bit of joy. I realized that, doing the jokes is real fun, but introducing the comics is work. I hated giving up the mic to my fellow comics. Sure they're funnier, more experience, but I dont care, I want to make people laugh. Introducing the comics felt like a forced routine, and since the show didnt allow me time to throw in even one quick joke each time I was up there, I wasnt enjoying it. The joke I did my last time up provided the satisfaction I needed to be able to say I enjoyed emceeing.
Since that night, Ive been starving for soome stage time. There are no shows lined up for me in the near future aside from a couple of open mics about 60 miles away. Not sure when I'll get another shot, but if I never do get onstage again, I can at least say my last gig was a good one.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Last couple sets

It's been a little over a month since my last post. Since my last post, I've performed 2 more venues. A small group of comics are trying to form open mic shows in this area to promote local comedy. They had lined up 2 seperate venues and invited me for some stage time. The first was at a sports bar. I couldn't really tell how many people were there since they were scattered all over the place, but I did my set. Tried a couple things and learned I need to time my material better! I had started with my self deprication jokes, extended them. And added a drunk bit, then realized my 5 minutes was up! I missed out on a good closer so I didnt feel too great about my performance. I went outside and as I was coming back in, another comic grabbed me and tried to offer some advice. Being that I'm in the embryonic stages of this comedy 'career', I try to keep an open mind. Take advice from anyone willing to dish it out. But Im not sure this guy even knew where he was standing. He would contradict himself every other sentence. After our talk, he got onstage and, for the life of me I cant remember if I laughed at anything he said. The gist of his 'advice' had to do with my energy level. And he did put out alot of energy onstage. But that energy is wasted if you have no material. So I'll work on my energy. I did get some positive feedback from other comics. So it wasnt a wasted performance. I know what I did well, and I know what I need to work on. A week later, the show was at a latin restaurant with about 10-15 ppl including kids. This meant the show would have to be clean. PG-13 is what they told me. So I stuck to it. That is, until I got to my prostitution bit (which would have been my closer the previous show had I not ran out of time) I blurt out the R-rated word for vagina and I hear a comic grunt PG-13, so I quickly correct myself with the PG word. That got a pretty big laugh and, had I known the kids were outside, I would have kept my bit going. But I was thrown off and wouldn't have been able to substitute all the R rated words in that bit and still been funny. So I skipped most of the bit and went right to the end which somehow got a laugh. I should also mention that I was getting terrible feedback from the PA system (operated by an 11 y/o) and that was also throwing me off. The PG13 restriction was semi-lifted for the rest of the show. They bumped it up to PG16 with permission from a parent. But by then, my set was over but the rest of the performers did pretty well. I'd have to say this was my least good performance so far. I even cancelled a joke before the punchline and didnt realize it till I saw the video later on!
Although I'm dishing out poor performances, I have to say Im really enjoying this. I still have stage fright and get high anxiety the day of the show, but it seems to be slowly going away with every performance. The nervousness I get is dwarfed by the feeling I get once Im offstage. Even if my set is horrible, I can see what I need to work on and look ahead to the next performance.
Now, I was offered my first paying gig! Im set to host a show next month for the guy who taught the comedy class. Basically Im getting back the money I paid for the class. So if i retire after that show, I would have broken even!

Monday, March 3, 2008

And thus an addiction is born.

After 4 weeks of attending the comedy class (including stage time at an open mic) and working on my set I did my debut performance. It was an audience of about 25, a bit on the rowdy side so I expected hecklers. I was a little nervous about people screaming out, not because I couldn't handle them, but simply I might have gotten thrown off and forgotten my next line. It was kind of a weird night. The headliner and pretty much every comic couldnt make it for one reason or another. So it turned out to be just me, the host, and one other performer. Its good to know I was the third funniest.
The show started by getting my performance out of the way, which was good for me b/c I was a nervous wreck and I wasn't going to start feeling better until I was done with my set. So Im onstage getting a few laughs and a new joke comes up. I hadnt written it or rehearsed it, but I spit it out anyway. I believe it got the most laughs of any one-liner in my set. The funny thing about that was that I said it wrong and no one noticed. Even I hadnt noticed till a saw the video afterward. Well, heres the joke: 'Well, it's March already, and I have to decide wether to take my tree down, or just leave it up for next Christmas.' Funny right? Well, this is how I said it: 'Well, it's March already, and I have to decide wether to leave my tree up, or just leave it up for next Christmas.' It was weird how everyone got the joke even tho I totally said it wrong.
For the most part, it was a good set. I got laughs throughout, my timing was -mostly- there, and at the end I wasn't booed offstage. I remember having this feeling just as I walked off and the show continued that if there was some possible way, I could get back on that stage and do it again. I felt high. I wanted to go up again that same night! I need my fix. Now I'm just looking for the next open mic i could find close to home. I have new stuff I want to try out, and I have some old stuff that still needs work.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I shall continue

I went off on a tangent last night. It was way past my bedtime when I finished and I realized I hadnt really talked about what I was setting out to do, or why. Well, obviously, what Im doing is a journal. As I mentioned last night, and in the blog's title, I'm chroncling the early stages of my comedy career. Starting with my very first performance-mentioned last night- and continuing through classes I take... I'll be starting one next week.
Why are you doing this?
I probably would have started comedy years earlier had I had a bit more help and/or information on where to begin. Whenever I asked about starting I was told 'Do open Mics'. I guess that would have helped. But there's a starting point before the open mic. You can't just go up there and wing it. Or can you? I'd never have the balls to get in front of people with nothing prepared to say. As a fan of standup, I knew it took more than just 'doing open mics' to get started. There has to be alot of writing involved. I refuse to believe the great ones just got up there and were lucky. They had to have sat down and jot down some ideas first. So I decided to start writing. What I almost never did though was put pen to paper. Most of my material was recorded to memory. Or so I thought. I was lacking the discipline to actually grab a pad and record my premises. Even though I had scattered notebooks all over my house and my car, whenever something came to me, I somehow convinced myself I'd remember it. So alot of comedy gold has been lost in my subconcious. Maybe it'll pop up again, who knows. So here I am on a tangent again.
So why again? umm, well, I guess I just want to pass on some early knowledge to those who are in the same boat. I've read other comedians blogs. But they all mention their current status and bitch about their road gigs or how the booker promised more money, blah , blah.
I may need to use this for myself in the future. Possibly, remind myself of what I'd set out to accomplish. I hope to keep using this journal step by step throughout my experiences to not only offer help to others but to motivate myself to continue writing. If I discipline myself to write down my thoughts on comedy Im sure little funny tidbits will spring up and get me started in writing the next great comedy special.