I hosted The Comedy Zone in Warwick, RI for the second time this past weekend. I tend to shy away from doing clubs too often, because usually I can get paid more and have a better time by producing my own shows through Grandma’s Basement. The Comedy Zone is located worthwhile. It’s 3 shows Friday and Saturday, pays $50 per show, and you can see as many free movies as you want those two days INCLUDING unlimited tiny bags of popcorn and Diet Coke (you aren’t required to have Diet Coke, I just prefer to rip off Maria Bamford’s beverage selection). I watched Men In Black, Chernobyl Diaries, The Dictator, Battleship, and part of Dark Shadows. The Dictator and Men In Black are worth seeing.
The first time I did The Comedy Zone, I ate it to the point where I hid in the green room after each show. The headliner and feature would sell their refrigerator magnets and t-shirts that say “Fuck off” when you hold them a certain way, and I’d cower next to the half-eaten, half-price movie theater cheese steak we’re afforded–just staring into my notebook, searching for any material where I treated homosexuality like a disease (while smoking weed). Many noted comedians refer to Rhode Island as “the state where comedy goes to die.” From the few shows I’ve done, most of the audiences really want to laugh, you just have to be very very clear when they should. They don’t appreciate some smart turn-a-phrase, or your subtle reference–it just needs to be clear. I like doing it on occasion.
This was Memorial Day weekend, so the biggest audience we got in this 300 seat theatre was 22 people. However, I nailed it. After every show, at least a couple people went out of their way to tell me how well I did, compliment me, etc. It was soooo rewarding compared to the last time. Also, it was just nice to see the development from my first time at “The Zone.”
For the first time in a while, I feel like I’m developing a voice. I see so many of these road comics do the same basic style of simplistic joke followed by simplistic joke, broken up by some crowd work and maybe some sort of interactive bit or prop humor. I feel like I’m finally starting to be a performer instead of just a guy who tells jokes. I’m starting to figure out, almost four years in, how jokes go in some of these rooms doesn’t matter, you just move on. You move on to the next joke, or start doing crowd work, or whatever. Not all of your jokes will hit. Either because of you, or the audience. The trick is just to act like whatever happens is supposed to happen. Because they have no idea how comedy is supposed to be. A lot of road rooms seem to have people who are worried about looking stupid, so as long as you act like they’re supposed to laugh and throw in some sort of trigger word or action, they’ll laugh whether they get it or not.
Basically, I’m slowly approaching the point where I’m not desperate for the audiences approval–which is huge. The next beast for me to tackle to be less desperate for my fellow comedians’ approval, which is tougher because I want them to accept me as a friend/equal at times, and then other times I’m trying to live up to some standard I’ve imagined they have for me. Either way, I’m seeing results from all the work.
One thought on “Zoning It In”
I nearly lost my mind performing in RI a couple of weeks ago to dead silence except for one joke where I added a few swears that aren’t usually in it because I figured they’d like that. They did. This wasn’t so much a comment but a somewhat related anecdote.