Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Are You Ready for Your Next Comic?"

I have been doing comedy for a relatively short period of time. But for most of my life, for 35 years in fact, I have been a fan of comedy. I followed comedians,and entertainers in general,the way others follow sports. I assumed that because of my passion for watching comedy,following the comedy world and being infatuated with the entertainment industry in general, that that knowledge and passion would help me figure out what it takes to get up in front of an audience and make people laugh. It does not!

I was always funny. Not a week went by when a someone didn't say, "You missed your calling." I was the funniest guy in the den, at the kitchen table, bar, classroom and office. I had seen most "old school" and new, break-out comedians, read every book,every magazine article and listened to most recordings of comedians since the 1960's. And yet, all that exposure to the great and not-so-great comics and writers did little to prepare me for when I got up on the stage and attempted to make people laugh.

I've thought a lot about this. A lot of things took me by surprise. These revelations were 35 years in the making. I wanted to share a few thoughts with fellow new comics starting out.

(1) The most obvious, of course, is the transition from the sidelines to the stage. The first thing I realized in being "stage funny" vs. "living room" funny is you have no history with the audience members, no good will built up, and there's no comfort in trying to make strangers laugh vs. your friends and relatives. It becomes painfully obvious from the moment you hit the stage and fire off your first joke.

(2) There are a lot of funny (and funnier)people out there. I may have been the funniest person at the dinner table or amongst my friends, but at a comedy club, open mic,comedy class or show, I'm one of many. It's like being the best athlete in high school who goes off to play college ball with the best athletes from 30 high schools. You're now one of many at your level and the bar has been raised. And, more seasoned comics may not have as much native comedic talent as you, but they've been at the craft long enough to have developed the technical skills, confidence, timing and ability to hone material that new comics lack.

(3) The business side of comedy is just as critical. Although many new comedians are not making enough money to refer to comedy as our "business," there are many business-related habits that should be kept in mind from Day I. Relationship building, not burning bridges, thanking people, developing your comedy persona and brand, developing relationships and being reliable are critical in any business, and just as critical in comedy.

I have so much more to learn. I am still a neophyte in the comedy world. It's a humbling experience to go up on stage and perform for strangers. To open yourself up and share your thoughts and feelings with an audience. I can't yet say I'm having a good time up there. For every shark, phony or "poser" I've encountered, I've also met a bunch of great people whom I would not have otherwise met.

I love the challenge of it. I wish I had started years ago.

Best of luck.  Book me!


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