Archive for Stand up Comedy

A Gig in a State Forest

Talk about having to tell jokes over the sound of a bratty noisy generator. That darn thing was whirring impolitely in the distance while I was telling my best new jokes. It was worse than a heckler. It was mocking me with an incessant whine. It was our annual family and friends outing and everyone expected me to be in my usual good form. I had saved a few news ones just for the occasion. There is always just the right time.

The trip was uneventful, which is always a good thing. No rain, no bugs, no bears. We hadn’t forgotten any essentials like toilet paper or utensils. We have a favorite campsite with amenities like bathrooms, running water, and if you need it, some shelter. We were roughing it, however, and created our own mini environment of sleeping bags and tents. It was a perfect paradise of our own making in a totally non-threatening wilderness.

The food we planned was superior – far better than the usual hot dog fare. We were cooking top grade steaks over the fire, s’mores, baked beans seasoned just right, and lots of cold soda and great beer. It was nature’s heaven. We kept the ice chest nearby. The kids were roaming about happily while the adults congregated to catch up. There are wonderful memories in the making, but it would have been even better if we could have heard ourselves speak!

Story time is a ritual, especially for the young ones who remember last year. We had gotten through a few mildly scary ones (told by Uncle James) and it was my turn. I tried a few jokes with some good success, and had a final volley in store when the generator started to whine like a cat in heat. My punch line drifted unheard into the air. It wasn’t that people weren’t listening. Some were waiting with bated breath. It was that darn machine upstaging me in my big moment. If I’d bought My Gen Set along, then I wouldn’t have been fighting over the noise of the old rattler that Uncle James bought with him. OK, the family has heard me before, but it is part of the traditional and we all look forward to my wit.

It isn’t even that big or imposing. Just there grabbing attention. OK, it’s not that new but why the yowling. Is it hungry for fuel? I guess we hadn’t thought of everything when we packed. An oil can is probably sitting by its lonely self in the garage. There is certainly no general store nearby. We looked for some fellow campers within walking distance to no avail. Already way too much time and energy were focused on the problem.

Why did we bring the thing anyway? 50 pounds of menace. I guess roughing it means different things to different people. We like our lights at night to scare away the critters and keep us safe and secure. They also let us see hours before bedtime so the time isn’t wasted. We can find things, cook, and enjoy the fire without squinting. I guess it will be a fixture next year—but well oiled.

Laughter Makes the World Go Round

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When I need to have a good laugh, I tend to turn on the TV to watch a cheery sitcom or read the funnies section that is located in my favorite newspaper. When my need for comedy is greater, I watch the funniest movie that I can find in my DVD collection. But when all of this isn’t able to bring me the laughter I crave for, I opt to observe the so-called real world that surrounds me…and that pretty much does it for me!

Reading the weird news section of any newspaper or portal website is always able to crack me up like there is no tomorrow! I’ve read some crazy and unbelievable news that could make anybody’s mouth drop opened in disbelief, such as when a person claimed that her cat dialed 911, as well as when a man tried dialing 911 but gave up when he wasn’t able to find the “eleven” button, or the fearless robber who decided to wear a motor bike helmet that had his name prominently labeled across it–on the same day he decided to rob a bank. The fact that these types of scenarios are really happening around the globe makes it even funnier! One tends to have a basic expectation of common sense from people, but the word ‘common’ is often misleading!

Honestly, I used to think that these types of news were made up–until I finally had the opportunity of meeting some of the people in these real world snafus. It’s a great source of new stories for me to use in my stand-up comedy routines–especially, if I can reach out to the person in the story and interview them. So, when you feel bored or sad…just look around. Do not bother to read a joke book—instead, opt to read a newspaper. Knowing what happened to the duck that went to a bar and asked for a drink can only be funny the first time your
hear it. Responding to the ‘knock-knock joke’ can make you chuckle at first but will become boring soon after. But analyzing the real world and the funny things that people do is always able to fill your life with laughter.

It is no wonder why moviemakers spend so much time, energy and money in including bloopers at the end of movies. Many people claim that these bloopers are more exciting to watch than the actual films!

Just like the very well-known American author Ernest Hemingway who liked watching the world walk by, I tend to do the same—except that it seems that I am more entertained than Hemingway was, as I do not just see the world walk by but also make a fool of it all along the way.

Stand Up Comedy in the YouTube Era

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This day and age is all about technology. No matter what, we are glued to our phones, tablets, laptops, you name it. We’re attached at the hip to something technological and are always involved with the network.

People are always talking to someone far away from them through a screen or watching other people’s lives. I’m not criticizing! I’m no exception to this, I am completely absorbed in my phone the majority of the time. But this is the kind of world we live in.

We’re not doing things the way our parents used to them or their parents before them. We communicate differently, navigate around differently, and view things in a different way. If you want to get anyone to notice anything you do, you’ll need to be Internet savvy and involved in multiple social networks. It’s the same way for filmmakers, music lovers, artists, and even comedians.

You can still rely on word of mouth and communicating without people in person, those techniques will work. But if you want to really draw some attention to yourself, you’ll need the glories of the Internet on your side. Many comedians I’ve met and heard of got their start on YouTube. You wouldn’t expect comedy to have such a strong connection to YouTube, but I swear, it’s a godsend and it works. Many started by posting videos of their routine and the occasional video blog to show people what their everyday life was like.

But the part of that caught the most attention was the clips of their comedy act. I noticed a similarity in them all, they were roughly three minutes in length. Three minutes is considered just long enough to deliver a couple jokes to get the viewers interested and satisfied with what they are viewing. Just a joke or two is thrown in there but never more. If they just posted the entire video of the comedy act, the viewers won’t be eager for more.

If it’s rather small in length, it’ll really pester the viewers. They’ll love the joke but only so much material is offered to them in that teeny, tiny video. Naturally, they’ll want more. The viewer will be eager to find another joke and get more familiar with the comedian’s material. If this comedian has this video posted, surely there are more! And so the process begins. They start scanning the Internet for more comedic material from this person. Exactly as if you just discovered a band and wanted to find every bit of music they’ve ever created and now.

It won’t just be YouTube that they will be scanning. Facebook, Tumblr, you name it. Google will be their best friend through this process. The more videos you have posted on your YouTube account, the better. The views will stack up as will the subscribers as do the Facebook likes, Tumblr followings, etc. Suddenly, this comedian has established a community of followers. He/she has solidified that cluster of interest. Their comedy has gained more interest

The Thrill of Stand up Comedy

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I don’t know which part is more invigorating for me but I can tell you deep down that I love this trade. Laughter is considered the best medicine out there and there’s nothing I love more than delivering that cure to the audience. I believe Comedy can fix just about anything weighing down on your shoulders so why not get a higher dose of it?

There’s no such thing as an overdose of laughter and joy, so why not chase after it a bit more? Comedy is all about the presence and impression you make.

When I step out onto that stage, I have to be ready. I have to be prepared to make an impression on these people. Whatever I am going to be saying, whether it’s a story or a one-liner, it has to stick. There needs to be something about it that the listener can attach to, look over at the person next to them, and laugh maniacally (well, maybe not that much!) because I get it.

They get it.

It’s something they understand and went through. Airplane food, what’s up with that? Everyone dislikes the airplane food, it’s notorious for being unpleasant. Anyone who has taken a flight anywhere would understand. Because I bring up something they know and can relate to, it’s a laugh. Pitch the joke. Let it sink it. Everyone relates. Everybody laughs. Everyone feels better. Now we’re cookin’!

That’s what is so thrilling about the comedic experience for me, I can make everyone feel better. The laughs keep coming, the jokes keep flowing, and the laughter just increases left and right. We’re all friends, we’re experiencing something great together. Suddenly, I’ve created a memory with these people. They’ll go back and reflect upon this awesome time I gave them and fantastic things I made them feel. And it’s just magic.

Seeing those smiling faces, tears streaming, and stomach’s being held tight is nothing less than rewarding and amazing. I feel full of a life and energy that no other experience could match. I am the supplier of wonderful feelings. I am the doctor feel good. That is my favorite part of the experience as a whole.

But it doesn’t end there, oh no, no. When the audience starts to communicate with me it just becomes an even bigger event. The interaction between comedian and audience is absolutely crucial, in my eyes, and I try my best to optimize that feature of the gig. I say something they find hilarious and suddenly they are talking back to me. Shouting out questions or just trying to joke back at me, you name it.

That conversation and interaction is made by my comedic routine. By interacting with the audience, I have room for improvisation and can make a more personal connection with them. The wall between performer and viewer is broken and suddenly we’re all just people again. And here I am, standing tall with my microphone and sense of humor, trying to make these people smile and forget about their troubles. It’s great.