Had a great first show last night in Moorhead (outside Fargo) at Courtney’s Comedy Club. I finally feel like I have everything in place for what I’m calling my Real Reality Show. Real Reality means that most everything in my act has at one time happened to me specifically, with a little bit of embellishment to make it more entertaining. The only exceptions are the beginning bit which has to do with our country’s consumerist obsession and the closing bit which sells my merch. (My own attempt to join the consumerism!)
While the first show was packed, the second show had only around 20 people. They were good, but when you do a show for 140 the first show, it’s a bit of a letdown. I get up onstage for this second show and start my it with a different joke than I did during my first. At this point I thought, let’s see how long I can go without doing a joke that I’d already done that night. At my best guess I’ve done over 4 hours of material during my career, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to remember it all. Now it would have been best if I would have planned this out a little ahead of time, but there was something really exciting about just trying to keep coming up with stuff I haven’t done in awhile.
Well by the end of the show, I had hit my time. I did my closing bit (the one that sells my merch) and then I dismounted. I had a great show, even with the audience being much smaller. While I feel like my show now has more substance because it’s more raw and personal, doing my older stuff reminded me what it’s theme was…getting the biggest laugh, while being as edgy as I could be.
Sidebar: I realize there is a bit of a “hey look at me” tone to discussing doing 2 completely different shows. Look, I’m proud I have enough quality material I could close a room doing 2 completely different acts, but the bigger theme I’m trying to work out here is evolving as a standup. Now back to the piece.
Here was my favorite part of the second show. I would be telling a joke and think of my next one while I was doing it. Since I hadn’t done a lot of these jokes in a long time (some as long as a decade ago), I wondered if I would remember how they went. It’s a weird deal where sometimes I will have a fan who has seen my show in the past mention a joke they liked of mine that I don’t do anymore and when I try to repeat the details of it for them, I can’t get the wording right standing outside the showroom. But it seems when I’m onstage, these jokes just come to me. It’s a weird mental muscle you develop the longer you do standup.
Here is something that you might not know about a standup comic who has done their act for a long time. They could be telling their act and while doing it they might also be thinking about what they need to pick up at the grocery store or where they are going to eat afterwards. It doesn’t seem very artistic but if I’m going to be totally honest about it, I’ve done this many times. If you do some bits long enough that is going to happen more and more often. There is a real danger to that as you are not delivering your material with the same passion you did in the past. There is a fine line between doing a joke enough times that you get the perfect timing and inflection for it– and doing it too long that it becomes a little stale.
So last night I did 2 different shows. If you were someone who had seen both shows you might have noticed that they were really different in theme and tone. For most of my career I always had edge and social commentary in my show, but I didn’t share much about myself, as I just never could find a pathway into that. Now my show is very specific to my life and I feel more unique because of it. No one is discussing some of the things I’m talking about, which I’m proud to say. I also know that some audiences like my older tone better, as it’s a little easier to laugh at, but I feel like my newer stuff reaches a little deeper inside the audience, as it gives a different (but I believe very honest) view of what it’s like to be a parent in the narcissistic culture we live in.
I have no idea if anyone found this post interesting to read, but this blog is first and foremost, a vehicle for me to discuss different shows I’ve done in the past and help me remember what I was thinking at that time. I hope in someway you enjoyed the voyeuristic look into my psyche.