One of the really weird things that happens from show to show is how much I like my material. When I do 2 shows in a night at a club, the first show I could be doing well with the audience and I’m feeling great about my act. Then the second show, I can be telling the same shit (for the most part) and I start hating my act because the crowd isn’t buying in on the same level. It is really a schizophrenic feeling.
If I was told my life depended on me finding the funniest 30 minute set any comic could do, I would probably pick Dave Attell. I mention him because as great as he is, when I hear him interviewed about his standup, he seems very self-hating about his act. This is not any humble routine, I think his dislike of himself is ingrained, and it also probably makes him as funny as he is.
I have mentioned before how I’m a mix of self-aggrandizing and self-hating. It might not be a healthy way to live, but I think it works okay as a comic. I can have shows where I kick-ass with the audience, but don’t feel that great about it because the feature act in front of me did close to as well. I can also have shows where I don’t do well as usual, but know I was on top of my game.
Don’t let some comics bullshit with you I don’t feel competitive about my place in standup. Marc Maron might be the father of alt.comedy and he’s a self-confessed sports hater, but he also might be the most internally competitive person in the business. It also might be the reason he spends a lot of time discussing the problems he has had with other comics.
Like most things I’m passionate about, I have a love/hate relationship with standup. I can be a bitter about certain things about the biz, but I’m also a big fan of it. I judge every standup I listen to, but at the same time, I’m very open to different styles and forms of comedy. The longer I’m in the business, the more I love watching a comic who I can tell has worked hard at their craft.
I’m really happy with 80 percent of my act. The other 20 percent stuff I just don’t feel I can get rid of because it gets huge laughs. It’s not that I don’t like this 20 percent, I just don’t feel it fits the majority of my story I’m telling onstage of dysfunction and raw pain. I could dump it, but I believe it is my job, first and foremost, to get big laughs. My analogy would be let’s say Springsteen comes out with a really personal album like Tunnel of Love, but he still knows he needs to do Rosalita and Dancing in the Dark in concert, because the audience paid to be entertained.
I know me comparing myself to Springsteen is ridiculous, but hopefully you can see what I’m getting at. I’m sure someone could argue that it’s just some kind of justification on my part because I’m afraid to get rid of some of my older slamdunks. Who knows, maybe one of those someone’s is a voice inside my head? Ah, the life of a neurotic comic.