2013

5 Jan

Until recently, I’ve been afraid to write in this blog.  I was embarrassed of where I was in terms of comedic accomplishments.  I’m ashamed to use “accomplishments” as a defining value for my writing, but 2013 has been a challenge.  Comedy feels different moving from Boston, where it’s easy to get shows and even get paid, to NY, where I’ll often pay to do an open mic.  It’s like losing a mansion to move into an apartment: you’re still fine, but you can’t help but remember how easy your life used to be.  How you could mostly get what you wanted.  It’s hard to fight off the demons of entitlement that tell you, “I’m better than this!  I deserve more.”

2013 was a very up-and-down year for me.  That said, I’m happy to have lived it in New York.  For the first time in years I experienced moments near-clinical depression.  For the first time in years, I also experienced exuberant glee.  Here’s my year:  It’s the tale of New York City.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

January:  Moved to NY!  Having a wonderful time!  Doing improv during the day and stand up at night.  Being paid as an “actor” to pretend to be sick for medical students on weekends.  Doing 15-20 mics and several hours of improv per week.  Dream come true!

February:  Same as Jan, except I’m starting to run out of practiced material, and not coming up with new material as quickly as I’d like.  Also, I assumed other comics would put me on their shows by virtue of doing well, which is barely happening.  I did get myself booked on Kabin(!), which is a big deal for comics coming up around here.  

March:  Things are getting more difficult now.  I’m 2 or 3 months from being out of money, and putting too much pressure on myself to do well on the Kabin set.  I’m trying to practice my 7-10, but it’s not going as well as it should.  I’m not getting many shows so I’m practicing mostly in from of people who’ve already heard it, and I’m clearly desperate for it to go well.  Starting to have some mild mental breakdowns onstage at mics, which doesn’t help me relax at all.

April:  I do Kabin!  It goes well, but was not hugely fun because I was so nervous.  One day after it’s over I get a fever, but have to travel to Rhode Island to host the Comedy Zone.  The Monday I get back, I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night with a bad fever and end up fainting.  I’m outta money, sleeping on a living room futon, and unable to leave the house for the next 10 days.  I’m still on and off too sick to go out the next 20 days.  For the first time in my life, I wear the same pair of underwear nine days in a row.  The underwear part turns out to be not that bad.

May:  Out of money and still sick, I somehow find a dog-walking job, which is a big reason I stayed sick for so long.  I’d get close to being healthy, and then become sicker and sicker as I walked dogs from 8am-5pm all week, get a little better over the weekend, and then repeat.  I’m rarely doing stand up the whole month.  Only really go out for work and the few improv classes I’d already paid for.  Once I finally get over the illness, I immediately injure my knee and hip from going straight from being bed-ridden to constant dragging around obstinate beasts all day.

June:  Now unable to go out at night because of injury, I start furiously teaching myself computer programming, vowing I’ll never be so sick or injured again without having the ability to go to a doctor.  Only fate knows if this was a giant waste of time.  I kind of like programming as a hobby.  I applied to a programming boot camp, and was on the path and was on the path to gaining acceptance before coming back to my senses.

July:  I’m finally close enough to full health to do comedy every day again.  It’s difficult to feel funny though, because I’m very poor and constantly exhausted.  I was under the impression my job would be paying me between $500-700 per week, and I end up getting paid much less than that because most families bring their dogs on vacation for the summer.  I can’t afford to pay for the mikes I used to, and am mostly living on coffee and peanut butter bagels that I carry around in backpack so I don’t buy anything.  I’m not getting much sleep from a mix of getting up early, worry, and constant construction every day DIRECTLY outside my window.  Like after not getting sleep all week, jackhammers would wake me up at 7:45am on weekends, which were eventually replaced with electric saws, hammers, and reggaeton.

August:  See July.  And I decide I’m gonna do everything I can to make a Magnet Theater Musical improv team.  I really enjoy it, and more than that, I just need to accomplish a goal.  Any goal.  I need to not feel like I’m drowning in a city that almost seems like it’s conspiring against me at this point.  I need someone to tell me I’m capable at something (if you can’t tell, I’m super demoralized at this point).  One of the dogs I walk pees all over my backpack.

September:  Finally, the dogs are back and I can start saving money.  Wrong.  Because of the strange way my company pays us, they actually overpaid me by over $1000 in the month of August (because of their pay system, it was hard to realize how little I was actually making).  Therefore, my company is going to take that money back out of my Sept and Oct paychecks.  While all this sounds super sketchy, it was the result more of miscommunication than them taking advantage of me.  That said, I had paid for the improv classes that I didn’t know I couldn’t afford, and have to borrow money from my parents to stay afloat.  I’m ashamed of borrowing from them, even though everyone does it at some point.  I also tell my boss I’m gonna quit eventually if I have to keep getting up so early.  He says he’ll see what he can do.

October:  I make a Magnet Musical team!  Thank sweet Jesus!  I can still do something!  My teammates are great, and the shows are fun.  I can’t tell you how badly I needed this.  I was going to move to San Francisco if I didn’t make a team, just so I could be around audiences with more excitement than dry wall.  I’ve even been mentioned in the “Musical Highlights” a few times (Yes, we have highlights for ourselves, my disgusted stand up friends…and they’re NICE.  We’re all allowed to feel good about ourselves on occasion (Who am I talking to? (ME!!!))!).

November:  A separate musical improv team I was on got accepted into Rochester’s Fall Back Comedy Festival.  We get up there, and the pianist they promise will play with us doesn’t show!  We do a well-received acapella musical (none of us have ever performed without music before), with a story that discovers McDonald’s french fries are pre-cooked in baby fat.  There’s also a dance break to no music.  After the show, one of our cast says, “That was my personal Vietnam!”  To which I respond, “Yes. That war was a lot like singing without a piano.”  We were together for about 36 hours, and I laughed every time I wasn’t asleep.

December:  I have to be vague about this, because I was asked to, but…

A comedian who’s been on tv and in movies found me through Twitter, and invited me to write a web series pilot with him.  He took me backstage to the SNL’s season finale, where I watched the cast enter and exit along with guests Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, Barry Gibbs, ex-Mayor Bloomberg, and Madonna (Madonna’s security team is larger than Mayor Bloomberg’s).  Then I went to the after-party and the after-after-party, where I got to shake Jimmy Fallon’s hand and sit at his table.  The most interesting parts of all of this (to me) cannot be mentioned at this time.

Again, I wish I didn’t need accomplishments to feel like I’m doing alright, but dear God do they help!

2014:  My boss is getting rid of my early morning dog walks!!!  For the first time in months, life doesn’t feel like a constant struggle.  That said, those months have helped me realize how I have to let go of a lot of my worries, and stop taking comedy so seriously.  It’s not worth it.  None of my fears come true the way I expect them, and typically I make it through after a while.

2013 was a very up-and-down year.  I was depressed, joyous, and grateful to have learned from both emotions.  The older you get, statistically you become happier from improved perspective, but the giddy, child-like surprise of unanticipated joy gets rarer and rarer.  Elation and despair both result from risk-taking.  We’re saddened by failure, but we eternally regret what was never tried.  Here’s to hoping all our 2014’s are the best of times, the worst of times, and the we’re-proud-to-look-back-on of times.

 

Beginning to Start Over

23 Jan

I’ve moved!  I live in Astoria and help dog sit a fun, 8 month-old pug.  A pug I’ve already yelled at — in human language  – several times.  It’s driving me mad and I wish I could punch it in its minimally functional face, but sometimes it sleeps on my lap and that’s nice.  It’s one of the few relationships I haven’t left as soon as got frustrated with them!  Progress.

Since I’ve moved to NY, it feels like I’ve started over.  Comic friends with shows will recommend me to their bookers, and their bookers won’t return my emails.  Then again, I’m trying to contact more people about shows.  Like most comics, I hate the mundane and non-creative nature of asking for spots (because I’m a smarmy sprite who thinks he’s above it somehow), but you have to ask.  There’s too many capable comics, and sadly we’re not nearly as irreplaceable as our mother’s may have told us.  Open mics will help you with pieces of an act, but you need shows to put them together.  The adversity of NY is sort of a positive:  it forces you to grow up and adapt, or lay fetal in a pool of your own misery.

I’ve been in NY since Jan 1st, and in the past 23 days I’ve done 53 hours of improv classes, 3 musical jams,  6 regular jams, 31 open mics.  I’ve also gotten sick twice, and only worked 3 days, which may become problematic in the future.  But I figure if I can keep pounding out shows, remain a decent person, and gather the courage to be myself around the people I want the approval of (or maybe even become man enough to not need their approval!), I’ll end up just fine.

I came here hoping I could look cool and make friends with a bunch of funny people.  Well, the odd thing about trying to look cool or funny is that it never works.   That said, even though I’ve felt like a real dipshit at some mics, and have had a few vague breakdowns onstage…some people still like me!  Regardless of how terrible I think I’ve been.  Take that my inner 15 year-old girl who’s listening to Billy Talent III right now!

I’m enjoying improv more and more.  Particularly at the Magnet Theater.  I love the focus on comedic humanity.  Empathetic characters are my favorite.  I like being forced to rethink my assumptions about people, who they are, where they came from.  It’s much more interesting, to me, than the Neverending Story references I keep hearing (although those are fun!).  I would recommend improv to everyone.  It helps with…I feel like an unimaginative person to use the phrase “active listening,” but that’s what it is.  And whatever you do in life, the ability to understand what people are saying beyond their words is an important skill to develop.

The biggest thing I’ve taken from these awesome first 3 weeks:  comedy is difficult and takes a long time, and you might as well not take it that seriously.  Be professional and take care of the basics, but I have to keep reiterating to myself this is fun.  And when I remember that, it usually is.

Pondering Humanity, Live From McDonald’s!

3 Dec

I’m drinking coffee in one of the hipper places in Laconia, NH:  the new McDonald’s.  There’s a fireplace, chandelier, and multitudinous wood-framed pictures of boats.  There was a Play Place when I was a kid, but this McDonald’s is more of a Starbucks than the childhood escape I came to know, love, and then hate myself for continuing to attend.

Everyone’s trying so hard to find something.  From making their way in art, to finding time while having a relationship, to getting their kid to eat a Happy Meal BEFORE playing with the toy, so “Daddy can get back to work.”  My goals are to be a masterful comedic performer, and be surrounded by people I love, and who love me.  And ideally, we all nudge each other closer to who we ideal ourselves to be.

You look around the comedic world, and it’s clear being funny doesn’t necessarily lead to an amazing life.  Comics who think so poorly of themselves, yet are much greater than they realize.  I think very highly of stand ups.  At best, we’re exposing people to new ideas, making learning fun, spreading joy.  At worst, we’re chastising puppets when we’re being racist (that’s not really the worst, but take that anyway, infrequent reader Jeff Dunham!).  George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Patrice O’Neill, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock and many others make it clear how you can get ideas to stick in the world with comedy.

The most eternal comedians are experts at sharing information with people.   I believe that is the purpose of humanity (ooo, getting deep, Dunlap):  it takes only one mind with one original idea, for infinite humans to benefit from it.  And it takes interactions with parts of infinite minds, past and present, to form a person capable of original ideas.   What I mean is, science has been built over thousands of years, by billions of humans compiling and comparing data.  So too is a human mind.

From conception, we are observing other people; trying to recreate the behaviors that we like, and avoid the behaviors we find damaging.  We absorb other people’s actions and emotions through subconscious “mirror neurons,” and create our own pastiche of humanity from friends, family, strangers, television, and everything else that resembles a sentient being.  Our personalities are tiny pieces of every person our ancestors have ever come in contact with.  In fact, interactions with other human beings changes our genes through epigenetics.   I don’t know how epigenetics work, but a lot of scientists say it’s true!

Through comedy, or any wide-reaching art, you can put your ideas, your personality, your beliefs, in a lot of people’s’ minds.  You make questioning and reason fun.  This is a rationalization and glorification of comedy, a thing that has treated me both amazingly and poorly for several years now (if this sounds like the psychology of a battered wife or hazed frat bro, so be it).   But I love comedy, and think it can be better than what’s accepted.  These are my ramblings for today.  Until I write again!

Stephen King’s Advice

16 Nov

Read Stephen King’s On Writing.  It’s changed the way I write.  With stand-up, my writing has rarely translated to the stage.  When I don’t have time to write, my ideas are often funnier off the top of my head, talking it out in front of people.  Other times, I would write so much,  I couldn’t remember all of the sequences of words I’d put together, and I’d lose connection with the audience while trying to recall my precious composition.  Here’s the new plan:

1.  Write 10 notebook pages a day.  I’ve only been able to do this a little more than half the time since I first talked about it, but it’s getting more habitual.  On a good day I’ll write seven pages early, and the rest in between sets at night.

1 a.  Live my life.  Lots of great writers and performers have a wife, kids, multiple jobs, etc.  There’s time.  I just have to stay off the damn internet.  Technically this should be rule number one, but getting that writing done early helps me live my life, and having experiences outside stand up help inspire the writing.

3.  Go to open mics WITH ONLY NEW IDEAS FROM PREVIOUS DAYS.  Nothing I’ve written that morning, unless it’s a tag for something I’ve been working on, or it’s one of those rare ideas that’s immediately and clearly funny.  Forgetting about the joke and coming back to it helps me look at it with fresh eyes, judge whether it’s actually funny, and help minimize wordiness.

4.  “Kill your darlings.”  This is King quoting another author, but its so true.  Too often I try to force jokes into longer bits, where I start off strong and end up puttering out.  I love a lot of the extra tags, but they’re often an unnecessary repetition of an idea the audience already understood.  I’m not sure how to explain this well yet, but a joke is often a slight of perception.  A tag, is usually a repetition of that, in a heightened way.  More than one tag, should really lead to another slight of perception.  Magic analogy:  Pull rabbit out of a hat, pull two rabbits out of a hat, doves fly out of the hat.  The rabbit out of the hat is a slight of perception, two rabbits is the tag.  After that, more rabbits is predictable, but doves flying out becomes the new slight.  Cut things even if you like them.  Edit edit edit.  See how predictable that last sentence was?  But it’s advice, not a joke.

Everything’s Better (For) Now!

12 Nov

Hey super fans…I had a great show!  IN New York!  Applause breaks!  Exclamations!  People said I was funny.  Several people even told me I was their favorite other than that friend they had on the show (so really I was their favorite).  I have had better sets, but not in this city.

Now that strangers have said I’m their second choice, New York has hooked me.  Sorry San Francisco, but I’m skipping you (for now).  I may go to DC for January, then come back to NY before going to Chicago in the summer.  I’d like my home to be in New York, but I need to collect road sets somehow.  As my fervent readers have probably realized, my plans for the future change every 36 hours.  I’m sure I’ll be crying into this blog again before the week’s out, but until then, suck it my-self-doubt!

Must…Stop…Travels. Then Travels.

9 Nov

It is 8 AM.  I can’t remember what I’ve confessed into the cyber void of late (I’ve been reading “prose” recently, so I’m going to type this blog post like a real sprite).  I’m in a Starbucks in Boston, after three and a half hours sleep.  This has been my usual work routine the past 4 months:   I get up at 9 AM in NY, and take an 11 AM bus from lower Manhattan on a 4-6 hour journey to Boston.  I open the Howard Johnson’s Tiki Lounge at 5 PM, work until 1 or 2 AM, and then crash on a friend’s couch, or am allowed to sleep in a hotel room until 6:30 AM.  I shower, get out by 7 Am, and then wander the streets until I repeat the 5 PM Tiki shift, catch an overnight bus back to NY, and try to catch up on sleep.  Then I do comedy for 5 days and repeat.  Needless to say, my body is dying.

Exciting news though…only one more weekend of it all!  I’m moving back to New England for Thanksgiving through New Years, and I’m going to rest and see a doctor!  Oh sweet slumber, how I would dream about you if I were sleeping.  It’s really not that bad.  I’m sure plenty of people have a rougher schedule than I, but I’ve always needed more sleep than the average person.  I can feel my personality shutting down.  Like a bent-over old man, shuffling from one task to another.  Just concentrating on the floor until I get where ever it is I’m going.

New York’s done a lot of things for me, but one of the most important, is even there’s just one audience member at a show, I am SO grateful for that person.  I will never take an audience for granted again.  Holy God.  I can get up more times per week in New York than I can in Boston, but I definitely get in front of more audiences in New England.  This past Tuesday, I went to 3 open mics and watched a show.  I only got onstage for one of them.  I was last pulled last for two of the mics, one of which, all the just-comics audience left before I got onstage.  It was just me and the host, so I said screw it.  Then I was pulled last this late night mic I paid $3 to do, where I’d go up to no one at 3 AM.  I used stronger language than “screw it,” and left again.  You know…those heroic tales about comics giving up and then making it. Good work me.  But again, I would gladly go on at 3 AM, if there were going to be any audience members there.

The point is, I don’t get funnier as I get sadder (I’ll say!  (Got me!)).  Ninety-five percent sure I’m moving to San Francisco in January.  My plans seem to change based on how well I last performed, but I’m fairly certain.

I need to see the country soon if I’m going to do it, because for the first time in my life, I want to start dating someone.  Which may seem weird that this is just happening at 27, but up to this point, I’ve only really ever wanted to have sex (Mom, turn away from the screen!).  I want love and crap.  Bleh.  AND I’m smiling when I see little kids now.  Dear Lord.  I see children playing and I’m like “Awww.  Look how cute they are!”  Up until now, it’s been, “Get these disease-ridden, gnome-twinks away from me!”  It can’t be too long before I dream about teaching someone to play catch.  I must travel before that happens!!!

 

NY v. US

7 Nov

Pete Holmes gave me great advice a year ago.  He said “New York will make you better by beating the shit out of you, and that you need places to go to remind yourself that your funny.”  That used to be Grandma’s Basement for me, but recently the audiences have been so full of returning people (which is great!), it’s not fun to work on the jokes I would like to over and over again.

Basically, I’ve quit the Hojo’s.  Not yet, but as of January 1st, I’m done, and I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing.  I may just live in New York and spend much more time than I would like to contacting bookers to get more shows.  I may move to Washington, DC, where I could accrue some feature work before returning to New York, so I’d have other places to go to feel funny.  I may move to San Francisco, where I have a ton of college friends and believe I would have the most opportunity to perform, or maybe Chicago where I could try to do more clubs and improv.  The most fun sound like SF and Chicago, and I’m not moving to Chicago in January, so there’s a good chance it’ll be SF.  At this point I’d move to rural Mississippi if I knew I could perform a bunch and make a living, but I think my supporting myself through art stage is still years away.

I’m probably over-thinking everything, but I’d rather work food service and do several shows in front of audience members per week, than try to hustle my way through the bottom of New York.  It doesn’t seem necessary.  Plenty of people move in and get on better shows immediately.  Don’t get me wrong, if you want to pay me to do anything to stay here, I will do it.  But I’d rather travel and develop in different cities, exposing myself to different ideas, than perform in front of the same people constantly.  I never envisioned my act to be a series of one liners.  I always imagined I’d have an interweaving, borderline one-man show, with some real emotion as well as comedy, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to develop that in New York.  I think New York will be my ultimate destination now that I have an idea of what level of comedy I should be at to live here, but I’d rather do a several of feature-length spots  in another city, than infinite open mic spots in New York.  I’ve seen the people who rise quickly in this city, and they’re typically either attractive young black dudes, or sad young white men (there are plenty of exceptions, but that’s how it feels).  And I say this not meaning to take anything away from those people.  Everyone who rises quickly here is working harder than everyone, and is FUNNY.  But they’re also getting stage time in front of audiences that don’t necessary like them immediately, but there’s an affinity for them.  In the same vane, I think whatever my character represents would work well in San Francisco.  That might just be an excuse for my ego’s sake, but that’s what I’m going with for now.  Decisions soon!

Huhhhh…Writing

7 Nov

New York’s kicking my butt.  It’s good for me in the long run, but it becomes harder to motivate myself to go out to opens mics.  I need to get on more shows with real audiences.  However, it’s been frustrating to see who’s getting booked on some of these shows, where bookers aren’t even returning my emails.  I’m as good or better than a lot of (some of) them, but I’m not a draw.  They don’t NEED to book me.  I’m an unknown.

But that’s the issue:  my main dream is to perform.  To work and rework jokes.  I’d get onstage 10 hours a day if I could, and write mainly from the stage.  That’s what I’ve been trying to accomplish with the improv.   More performance hours.  Getting up and doing these intensive classes from 10 AM to 4pm 4-5 days a week, was SO much fun!  If I had the money I’d do it constantly.

The writing is tougher.  That feels more like work to me.  For the past few months, I’ve only averaged a page or two a day.  I’d love to say it was from the physical exhaustion of crashing on different couches every week, doing as much improv and stand up as possible, continually trying to find new sublets at cheap prices, and so on.  But it’s more been my avoidance of failure.  My avoidance of throwing my entire self out there to be judged.  Which is a suffocating way to approach writing, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s On Writing recently, and his words have made me realize I’m being too hard on myself. Again.  Jokes, or any writing for that matter, will be edited a thousand times by strangers of varying expertise,  so why not enjoy the writing process, and sift  for gold later?  Developing an act is mostly about people telling you not to tell that one anymore, so why do it to yourself?  I’ve decided I’m doing 10 pages a day until I like it, or start breaking all my pens so I can’t write anymore.  I’ve written 30 notebook pages (one side) in the past 3 days.  I woke up this morning dreading doing it again, searched the internet for an hour, but writing here has oiled my brain a bit.

Binge-prov

1 Nov

Hey, all-of-my-fans!  I’m sure you’ve been waiting these past four months with bated breath, and for that I deeply apologize for the negative health effects attributed to long-term bated breathing.  What have I been doing that’s kept me from writing?  Well, I was hoping you’d ask…

I’ve been on an improv binge.  Since July, I’ve taken UCB improv classes through level 2, PIT through level 2, and Magnet classes through level 3.  I’ve also taken the level 1 Musical Improv class, an “Accessing Emotions” workshop, and a independent class about “Getting to the Funny Faster” in scenes, all through Magnet.  Within those four months I’ve also taken two days of classes for the UCB level 3, before withdrawing because it felt like a waste of time.

All this I’ve done in New York, while continuing to commute back to Boston on weekends to bartend our Howard Johnson award-winning comedy room.  “But Tom, how could you be in Boston and New York at the same time?”  Great question again!  Since August, I’ve been subleting in New York, crashing on couches in Boston, and taking one overnight bus back to NY per week.

Has it been helpful?  Absolutely.  I’m definitely improving (no pun intended).  The improv has helped punch my brain into dealing with hecklers better.  I’m a sensitive boy, who’s only slowly starting to grasp the scope of trying to make a living at comedy.  Most of the time in Boston I avoided any room that didn’t book me immediately or would heckle me.  Even two, three years in, I would panic and almost tear up, not from being hurt so much as the intense pressure I would put on myself, to not only shut this guy up, but also show him the error of his ways so he didn’t heckle in the future, and finally, make him my friend.  I’d basically give myself an impossible task and hate myself for not achieving it.  On several occasions, an audience member has tried (and usually succeeded) to buy me a beer as an apology for hurting my delicate feelings.

Improv has helped me stay calm in the face of someone saying something stupid, because that’s mainly what you deal with in low-level classes.  Here’s a typical level one scene:  A stranger and I stand facing each other on stage, and I’ll say, “It’s great to be hunting on these hunting grounds!” and they’ll say, “My dick is a flamingo!”  And then you have to stay in character and try to work with it.  Incredibly similar to heckling.  Before improv, I’d say, “What? Um…let’s get these deer!”  Now it’d be more of a “…Trust me, it’s clear it’s a flamingo.  No one can not tell it’s a flamingo.”  And I would gesture at his crouch indicating he had a flamingo sticking out there.  Not amazing, but deals with the situation in a way where’s he’s a crazy person I’m dealing with respectfully, and we’re moving on.  I’ve listened and accepted his idea, and now it’s his responsibility to remember he lives in a reality where he has poultry genitals.  Every time he forgets he has his member gets it’s pink coloring from all the shrimp it digests, he’ll look stupid.  I’m not making him look stupid, I listened to him and respected what he was saying something necessary, and by forgetting, he’s showing he was actually just out for attention.  It’s not the best ideology for improv scenes, but it’s great for hecklers.

That’s all for now.  There’s a lot more in my brain I need to dump into this blog, and that will come over the next few months.  Expect another spurt of blog posts before I go on another long hiatus!

Pass Fail

27 Jun

I had my audition for Comic Strip Live yesterday.  Every year or so, the Comic Strip holds a lottery where you get a date to audition for the club.  For the audition, you do 5 minutes after the 8:30pm show ends…for the same audience.  The first show was over 2 hours long, audience members will leave over the course of the show, and then at the end the host goes, “And now, the auditions!  Did I mention there are auditions?”  The remaining patrons groan at the realization they’re now hostages.  That’s a little over-dramatic, but the point is, the audience is not excited to see you.  It’s actually a good system, because only seasoned comics with solid jokes will do well with them (unless, of course, the audience is mostly friends of a comic auditioning.”

That said, I did not pass.  I did alright, but it wasn’t a strong set.  The things that hit, hit.  The things that did not, did not.  The booker, JR, gave me the best possible feedback for not passing, I think.  He said it was obvious I was creative and had some solid jokes, but needed to be more concise with my writing and edit more.  This is what I half-expected going into it, so it was nice to get reassurance that I’m not that delusional on my comedic abilities.

We got to watch some of the regular Comic Strip acts, too, and while watching them I realized I probably wasn’t going to pass.  I don’t think many of them were insanely better than me, but a lot of their jokes were soooooo predictable, or at least things I’ve heard variations of previously.  I got more and more depressed as I saw what the audience was laughing at, and even saw pros doing jokes I’ve thrown away because I thought they were too easy (I still think they’re too easy).

But then again, I might be too critical.  I was watching Jim Gaffigan’s new special, Mr. Universe, and he did a long bit on the Dominoe’s pasta bowls.  To me, the bit seems like a variation on Patton Oswalt’s KFC Famous Bowls joke.  Gaffigan does something different with it,  which should be fine.  Logically, both jokes are unique, but emotionally, they feel like the same thing to me.  But I’m starting to wonder if anyone would agree with that.

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