I’m no Luddite, I like new technology. It has helped standup on some levels, as youtube and rooftop comedy (who really need to get some clips of me) helps make comedians more accessible to people. Where it doesn’t help usually is in a comedy showroom. Here’s a couple situations where I made the cellphone my friend from onstage.
In Toledo a few weeks back, my phone starting ringing. Now that is kind of hypocritical, since I would prefer everyone else in the audience to have their phone off. Here’s the difference: I’m not texting while I’m doing standup. Texting is the worst thing ever to happen to standup comedy, as it’s so addictive to some people they can’t focus enough to just watch the show. To combat this whenever I see a person texting for awhile I now will walk over to their table and sit down next to them, pull out my phone and start texting as well. The couple times I’ve done it the point seems to have been taken well.
So my phone goes off in Toledo, I’m pull it out of my pocket while the audience is laughing at my last joke to see who it is, and it’s my friend, Dan Cummins. So I mention to the audience we have a special guest comic who will be performing, while I answer the phone. I tell Dan that I’m onstage and ask if would he do a joke for the audience? I then tell the audience, I want to bring to you a comedian who has had 2 comedy central specials and has been seen on the Tonight Show, let’s hear it for Dan Cummins!
I turn on my speaker phone and put it up to the microphone. Right on cue, Dan tells some great new joke. As soon as the audience starts to laugh I hang up on him. After the audience stops, I call him back again to tell him I hung up because I didn’t want him to get the satisfaction of being funnier on MY stage. When he starts to respond I hang up on him again. I’m not sure how funny this reads, but trust me, it was pretty hilarious in the room.
Maybe this is the future of standup. Maybe the ultimate prop will be the cellphone. Adapt and adjust to the world around you.