I got the job working the door at the Comedy Lounge in Cape Cod, MA. I’m pretty excited since it’s my first job in comedy. It’s only for the summer but it pays $50 a night and I get guest spots every third show. It’ll be cool to be paid to watch and perform comedy.
A little bit about success early-on in comedy:
In August 2009, I signed up for a Sunday open mic at a well-known Boston club. I went there and did my time. Although the response was quiet and forgiving, I thought I did great.
I got a big head, as many comics do when they haven’t bombed yet. Also, I physically have a big head.
I was eager to perform two more times that summer. When September came, I went off to college and quickly wanted to do more comedy. So, I set up my own open mic with students at school. I was so proud of my “abilities” as a comic that I suggested right away that I would be the host. And I was. It scared the hell out of me, but I still felt good; I was on my way.
My wake-up call came simply: an open mic at a bar. For those of you who haven’t been to a bar to do comedy before, go do yourself the favor. Some of them are okay, mind you; but this one, on this night, was bad. I stood on stage (while the techno dance club downstairs was booming bass through the floorboards and rowdy bar patrons were…being rowdy) and the table directly at my feet had three people, stone-faced, watching me stumble through my scripted material joke-by-joke and getting no response whatsoever. I was sweaty, upset, and dead-set on getting off and being done with it.
I went on to do another open mic that didn’t work out. And another. After enough of these, I was 100% certain that I was a failure in the world of stand up.
For a time, I felt terrible about my material, my presence, and I questioned my future as a comedian. I lost faith in myself.
In retrospect, it helped me tremendously to feel that way. The true test of a comedian, I think, is to hit a bottom when you honestly believe that the audience, the other comedians and club owners don’t like you and you don’t like yourself. The only way to become great is to defeat that and prove that you can be better.
So if you’re a comedian and you haven’t felt like shit on stage yet: Go do that.
I just sent off an email to a comedy club out on Cape Cod for a job working the door on Saturday nights. They pay cash and guest spots, the comedians they book are some of the best in the area. If I got it I would get to do a regular show every week and meet some of the comics that work there.
I’m crossing my fingers that I get it. Who knows?
An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.
-Mitch Hedberg, American Comedian
I agree totally. I deal with 40+ year olds asking me weird questions and telling me that I could be the next Jeff Dunham all the time.
I’ve also been completely pummeled with the same phrase after every mildly humorous thing I say in a conversation:
“You should put that in your comedy act.”
And the also popular, “You’re probably gonna put this into your act, right? LOL”
The answer is literally always no, and it seems like only comedy-minded people can decipher the difference between “stage funny” and “just an offhand remark funny.”
I don’t blame people for not knowing the difference, but just don’t be offended when I look down and say, “yeah totally” and don’t bring it up again.
The worst thing about being a comedian is telling people you’re a comedian, and the worst people you could possibly reveal this information to are your parents’ friends. More broadly, anyone over the age of 40.
And maybe I’m speaking to my college-age brothers and sisters here, but I think young comedians in general, who have parents, who have friends have all been in the position I’ve just recently found myself in: the one where your mother tells her friends you want to be “the next Tina Fey” and then everyone stares blankly until Mr. Smith says, brightly, as if he is the first genius who ever thought of this, “So, tell us your best joke!”
Fucking pardon me?
Never in the entire history of the world (at least for as long as I’ve inhabited it) has any other person, who has chosen any other profession, been so mercilessly throw to the wolves.
As if, at the neighborhood pool, I’m going to whip out my classic line about lesbian bars, or one-night stands, or anime porn.
Furthermore, my material’s not the point. Even if I was a “clean” stand-up, even if my material had been personally endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres, what gives you the audacity to treat me like your personal court jester? Dance for us, plebian!
For some reason, everybody thinks they’re an expert on comedy. Because, you know, they’ve laughed once or twice in their lives, and that’s all it takes, right?
Nobody demands that astrophysicists prove themselves at picnics. Nobody asks advertisers to pitch their latest online marketing strategy at family barbeques. Hell, even professional dancers dodge a bullet by not choosing a career that requires a microphone and an audience.
I would thereby like to take this moment to heartily encourage every family member or friend or cab driver or teacher to kindly take a second and really think about what you’re asking me to do when you ask me to tell you a joke. Because I’m a regular person with regular thoughts and feelings who may have chosen an unorthodox career but that doesn’t mean that I feel like exposing my soul to a bunch of people I see only once a year (or that I’ve just met on a train, or in a bar, or on a plane…) and I shouldn’t have to.
Being a comedian may not be a regular job, but the next time you ask me to tell you my very best joke, I’m going to demand you perform open heart surgery right in front of my face.
Comic/Comedy Writer “rhymeswithchelsea” can be found on Tumblr here.
Yeah, it seems like Doug Stanhope has got a lot on his mind. I’m surprised he’s so dissatisfied with his career, considering. He’s working a comic’s dream job, and if i were him I wouldn’t complain too hard about having to putting out a new DVD. I’m interested to see where he goes with his career.
My intention with this blog is to post content from all comedians equally, but I must admit that I hold a complete love and admiration for the comedy of Louis C.K.
When I started comedy I drew all my influence from Demetri Martin and Mitch Hedburg because they were some of the only comics I was even familiar with. I wasn’t the type of child who curled up next to the record player listening to George Carlin or Richard Pryor for hours with stars in my eyes. I didn’t even want to do comedy until I was 19.
So, as I eased myself into the world of stand up, I was exposed to more and more great comics. I’m fortunate enough that my job allows me to listen to my iPod, which means that I can go through 3-5 comedy specials in a shift. I’ve been doing that for two years, and I now have a solid grasp of who I like and who I don’t like.
What I’m getting at here is this: I used to not like Louis C.K. after seeing only his Comedy Central half-hour. It just wasn’t my taste. But this past Winter I listened to Marc Maron’s interview of Louis C.K. and I liked the way he talked about stand up. I felt like I could relate a little. So, I got his first hour-long HBO special, Shameless, and I fell in love with it. I laughed harder than I had at any comic, and I suddenly had a different outlook on comedy.
Since then I’ve listened/watched/read everything I could about Louie and I just love his philosophy on the world and on comedy. I’ve drawn more advice from his bonus feature interview on Chewed Up than I have from anybody else in the industry. The guy is brilliant.
But that’s a good thing!
Recently, as you may have heard, Tracy Morgan got in trouble for what has been described as a hateful rant against gay people on stage. Since it happened, people like Tina Fey came out and scolded him for it and he has apologized profusely.
But Louie C.K. didn’t think that Tracy Morgan needed to apologize. Punchline Magazine reported that Louie said, “It’s clear to anyone with an ability to reason and understand people that he didn’t mean a word of what he said. He was fucking around.”
Though I would like to clearly state that I definitely don’t endorse hating any group of people because I think every individual is hatable in his or her own unique way, I think Louie is right.
Can you imagine a day when comedians cease to ever say anything offensive on stage for fear of the treatment that Michael Richards or Tracy Morgan got? We’d have a full scale return to physical and prop comedy!
Maybe I’m an extremist on this point, but I genuinely believe that if comedians can’t say things because they are taboo or some people might find them offensive, then the whole point of comedy has been undermined.
I would even go a step further and say it is irrelevant if Tracy Morgan does or does not actually believe what he said. Each and every one of is well within our rights never to watch 30 Rock again or buy a ticket to a Tracy Morgan stand up show, just as he is well within his rights to go up on stage and say whatever the hell he wants. He isn’t a politician, he’s a comedian.
I don’t know about you, but I do comedy primarily because it’s a medium with the most amount of freedom to say and do what you want. It’s all about point of view, personal voice and finding your voice. So, for me, it’s always frustrating for me to see that freedom restricted, no matter how much I disagree with the bastard who is being ostracized.
Comedian/writer Jason Islas can be found on his Tumblr.
We’ve been getting alot of new followers and well thank you :)
Are you a Stand-up Comedian?
Do you have any of your material recorded?
We’re going to start posting your Stand-up. Send them in!
If you get a chance to reblog us we’d love it!
Thank you from all of us!
-Quit being a cunt and laugh.
I keep getting new followers every day and it’s great. I ask that you guys tell your friends and reblog stuff and tell me what I can do to make it better.
More followers means more people checking out your stuff, which means more people liking you as a person, which means we all get inflated internet egos and go on with our barren, hollow lives with small smiles on our dumb fat faces.
Here’s a submission from writer/comedian Jacob Galang. I can’t agree with it enough.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from doing stand up comedy it’s that whatever you do, don’t stop writing. Much like other comics, I tended to start and stop a lot for several reasons, whether it be school or just apathy. When I got back on stage, I was rusty, and when I say rusty, I mean I was RUSTY. My jokes didn’t excite me, I wasn’t happy with my performances… It felt like I was back at square one, that awkward square where you’re humbly reassured by a silent audience that you need to go home and work on your shit.
Now I’m not saying you need to sit down and hammer away at your jokes until you think you’re looking at gold. Chances are you aren’t. Don’t work too hard on joke writing. After all, it’s comedy. Personally, I take it one joke at a time. I work on a joke until I’m happy with it, and when I think I’m done, I move on. That could take a few minutes or a few days. The point is to write or rewrite a joke that you’re happy with, a joke you’ll be excited to tell on stage. If you’re excited by your material, it’ll influence your performance and the audience will react to that energy.
Now I know there are some comics out there who like to go on stage and just riff, but let me just say if you really love comedy, try writing a little bit. Every artist works on their craft and writing is the way we work on ours. Every great comic writes. Even if it seems like they just go up on stage and just rant for an hour, there’s always an underlying written joke there making an audience laugh.
If you write but have run into the dreaded writer’s block, don’t fret. Inspiration always strikes when you least expect it. The trick is not to let it slip through your fingers. If you think of something really great that you’re psyched about, drop whatever you’re doing, find a pen and write it down. I remember I was in a slump just a month ago. I’d try to write, but nothing I wrote was up to my standards. Then one night, as I lay in bed waiting for sleep, a joke comes to me. And another. And a tag to another. And a way to rewrite another. I jumped out of bed and wrote everything that came to mind, and from that night on I was back to my old self. Writer’s block: DESTROYED. So if you ever find yourself in that predicament, don’t worry. Just remember, you were funny once. You can be funny again.
I know a few people who don’t laugh at a stand-up show, even though they claim it’s hilarious. Does that make sense? They’ll sit through a show, not laugh, and when it’s over they’re like “That was great.” My buddy Steve is one of those people. I asked him about it, and he said it’s because he thinks it’s rude to laugh out loud. Apparently it hinders you from hearing the next joke. I can understand the logic behind that, but….
Hey everyone, I’m back in the state that surrounds Boston (you know the one) and I’ve got some stuff to post.
This one is called “Genital Text Generation,” it’s a humorous piece from Bridey Elliott who can be seen a number of places on the internet - including but not limited to Twitter, Funny or Die, and Tumblr. She’s really funny and she’s obviously got some talent, so go LOOK at her stuff.
GENITAL TEXT GENERATION
Dick pictures, am I right? Big or small… soft or hard as dick. They never cease to make us all laugh and really get a kick out of it. Growing up mainly in the 2000s, I am accustomed to penis shots. I am a member of the charmed generation that experienced “genitalia texts”, way back when I was a freshman in high school. As someone who is proficient in the ways of sending and receiving pictures of private parts, I say what’s the big deal? It’s our human instincts to want to take pictures of our front butts and rear butts with our camera phones and send them off into cyberspace, where the person receiving it can “Ooh” and “Aah” at the lovely junk we were blessed with as babies. I mean it’s just in our genes, ya know? We all text our crotches for different reasons. I’m not saying it’s right! But hear me out?
In the ways of love, some of us are just downright insecure about our worth and undoubtedly our bodies. We all wish we could have that perfect, sculpted bum that plops down on chairs really elegantly, but most of us have squishy buttocks that spill over the sides of metal chairs and whose crack peaks out of almost anything we try to wear! I know my little fella does! (“fella” was referring to my butt crack) Getting back to the core of the matter, sharing your rear with someone by texting him or her a photo of it can be a huge break through for you, insecurity wise. Suddenly, you’re filled with dignity and pride for your tushie because you allowed yourself to show it to someone thereby giving yourself permission to think it’s great and beautiful, just the way he or she is! (Some people give their butts a gender.)
Of course it’s a double-edged sword, you may think the person really loves the images of your privates, but they’re really forwarding it to friends and family or as in a lot of cases the press! But I say it’s the worth the risk! Ya know? The gratification I get when I press the send button induces a rush of euphoria within me that no one can take away! Text a photo of your privates to someone you love today and get a board this train, COME ON!! THE TRAIN’S LEAVING
I’m in a hotel in SC, thinking about what I’m gonna do when I get back to Boston. Like I’ve said before, I haven’t done a show in quite a while, so I think it’s probably time to get back into it. I’ve been avoiding it, but I’m gonna try and do a bringer.
In my case, this means Dick’s Beantown Comedy Vault. I have to call up ahead of time, they give me the date, I bring 2 friends who will pay $10 each.
So here’s a piece about bringers. The good and the bad.
They usually fill seats.
People are paying attention.
You get to see other (and better) comics drop in once in a while.
At first, your friends and family will love to come out and see you.
Your friends might lose interest/not want to pay every time you sign up. Unless you have devoted friends, it’s hard.
They’re strict with rules and they know you need the stage time, so if you go up too long or cancel too late, they won’t let you back for a while or at all.
There are more, but I dunno.
Basically, a few months ago I skipped out on a show because my guests couldn’t come at the last minute. Ever since then I’ve been worried about signing up again because I don’t have definite people to come with me. Bringers can be stressful and lame. I’m gonna try to get one soon. That’s all.
If you guys have more to say about bringers, send email/submit.
I’ve been on the road since Wednesday, so I haven’t been able to do much on here. I’ll do some reblogs and say once again that you guys should submit your stuff.
You don’t do the Vault anymore? I don’t remember your set, so I don’t judge
Hey - wanted to kind of respond to Justin’s letter to Kyle Kinane.
For what it’s worth coming from another amateur, I would say stay true to yourself in your act. Especially if you’ve only been doing it for a year, keep at it and you’ll get better at getting laughs, even with unconventional material. I’ve had people tell me I’m “too smart for the room,” which is sort of unbelievable to me, but I have some stuff that is pretty hit or miss. But early on someone told me not to dumb down my material, and that was some of the best advice I’ve gotten, because the scope of my writing continues to expand and improve all the time. If you’re not yourself, you won’t be as funny. Don’t be a crowd pleaser. You’ll find your audience.
That being said, “catering to the audience” doesn’t have to mean compromising your material. There have been times where I’ve said something “shocking” on stage and realized that it just distracted people from my point in the bit, even though I liked the line. There are ways to make your point come across easier without watering down your point.
I interviewed Moshe Kasher recently and asked him about this, and his answer was basically to stick to it, and if stuff doesn’t work you’ll figure out over time if it’s you or the joke. You just have to get up on stage as much as possible. Your examples were Patton Oswalt and Kyle Kinane, and they’re doing great being unconventional. You just have to do what you’re best at and do it well.