My comedy is different every time I do it. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Adam Sandler
Standup comedy is difficult.
Sometimes it can even be difficult to listen to but it is always difficult to perform. This may not be the case for everyone though it is definitely the case for me. Maybe I’m just not funny. Maybe it will get easier with time. Maybe I shouldn’t perform stand-up. Whatever the case may be, I will be back on the standup stage this Saturday night at the (from what I hear … amazing) Comedy With Balls Club in Quispamsis.
The booking process went something like this:
Management: Hey Wayne, saw you perform a standup set and would like you to perform at our club.
Me: Who is this?
Management: No, seriously. Are you interested?
Me: I’m not very funny.
Management: Yeah, we know ….. but we need someone.
Me: I guess so. Can I do the same crap that I tried last time?
Management: I guess. Can you try something funnier?
Me: Hmmm, OK, I’ll try and write some jokes this time.
As you can clearly see those of us in the standup comedy business exude extreme confidence and are terrific self-marketers. Without these essential skills a person could simply never make it in the biz. This is how I’ve made it so far. Let that be a great lesson for all the kids out there.
I’ve actually only performed a few standup sets though I have been pretty fortunate to do them at some outstanding venues thanks to my mentor, friend, and professional comic, James Mullinger. (James, we are friends right? You’ve never actually said it but it seems to me we get along really well…)
Anyhow, James was kind enough to take me under his wing, show me the ropes, and book me in a number of shows with him. Because of this kindness, I have been able to experience standup comedy on a few levels. Our first gig together — along with Neil Mundle and Glen K Amo — was a sold out Sunday afternoon set at the Barrels Head in Quispamsis. A terrific introduction to comedy with a ready made crowd of willing participants. They played along with my family-friendly observations. Laughed at the perfect times. Clapped when required. They were terrific while I was mediocre. I’ve also had the pleasure to perform at the annual KV Outreach fundraiser shows. This year we had in excess of 400 in the audience who also went along with my bit. Like I said, I have been pretty fortunate with my opportunities.
Even with these opportunities I’m still not funny. I keep trying.
One great piece of advice I received from James is that there is a significant difference in how to approach comedy as opposed to music. For example, when practicing ‘music’ for an upcoming show I can waste away in my basement practicing chords, songs, lyrics, and melodies while monitoring my progress. I know when something sounds terrible. I also know when something sounds not terrible (or at least Id like to think so). With music I can feel comfortable that I’ve achieved some level of proficiency before hitting the stage. Comedy does not give you that latitude. I, or any comedian, do not get to decide when something is funny or not — the audience decides and they often make stupid decisions …. in my humble opinion. (just kidding, I’ll wear the bad jokes),
Comedy is surprises, so if you’re intending to make somebody laugh and they don’t laugh, that’s funny. Norm MacDonald.
Sometime jokes I’ve written, that I think are pure gold, simply bomb. Many times observations that I think are mundane go over really well. Often, ad-lib comments or self-deprecating reflections on poorly delivered punch lines highlight my sets. Yeah, I know, this all sounds great and you would love to buy tickets. You should. Neil, Mark, Brittany and Darren will be hilarious.
Here is a bunch of faces I made when taking pictures for the show poster.