Friday, April 15, 2016

Comedy Guide Post: Not Panicking

Lately, in between marathon practice sessions I have been watching the greats for inspiration. During my years as a comedian, I kind of got lazy about watching other comedians that were "greats." Some of it was I became soured by the politics, and also because when you are fighting it out it seems some of the greatest just got that way on their own. They didn't tank and eat it at open mics like you do. No Sir, they were just born amazing.

One bad habit that I have been trying to break is my panic button. It developed during years of doing short sets in New York. If you didnt make the audience laugh right away you were cooked worse than a burnt piece of toast. So when an audience doesn't do what I want them to do right away, I panic.

I freaking panic.

I panic.


I know the panic button is why I talk so fast and why I race to the punchline, and I do mean race sometimes. Now that I am trying to do longer sets and want to be a hell of a headliner, I am trying to break that habit as I have been whining. The thing is, I panic when an audience doesnt do what I want. "They could smell your fear." A club owner/headliner who worked with me said when I ate it hard but somehow showed enough promise for him to agree to help me........or he wanted to up his kharma. Hell if I know.

This club owner suggested just not even acknowledging the silence by saying, "That didnt work" continuously when that happened. Instead just to keep going. Eventually they would give you what you wanted if you just TALKED TO THEM.

Instead I let them see me sweat when they dont give me what I want.

I even did it today with a singing telegram. They didnt give me what I wanted and I started to panic. That panic is terrible. It's not just me but comedians as a whole who feel it. We push. We try harder. We acknowledge it. What the freeeeekkkkkkkkkkkk works?!?!!?!?!?!?!

What sucks is now that I am conscious of the habit it makes me wanna kick myself more. I know it all goes back to talking to my audience, and then that way it doesnt look like I am trying to hard to be liked. One who is amazing at that is Bernie Mac. He just talks to his people. Sometimes he doesnt get the big payoff at the end of a joke, but he keeps going. Because he is persistent and doesn't let the audience see him sweat, when the does get to the end of the bit the payoff is AMAZING!!!!

He knows how to run the marathon. It's not gonna be dead at the end of a long set. He's gonna rock a short set. He doesn't let you see the panic button, because the man probably took his out. Gosh I wanna get to that point.

What sucks so badly is I want to do so well all the time. Now that I am trying to break all these bad habits the short sets have given me, sometimes I feel like retreating to my room never to do comedy again. But I know when I am breaking down I am just breaking through. It's growing pains.

But I am also breaking terrible habits, and some that are actually letting me see what I am capable of as a comedian. I am good on my feet and need to embrace that more. I take risks, sometimes too many but risks are what make us artists. Not to mention that I am uncovering an ability as a storyteller, one that I wasnt embracing as I was just going joke punchline, joke punchline. Maybe this new layer ain't so bad.

Either way......that's my guidepost for this week.


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