Since I began as a standup, I have always looked for ways to be different. Being a straight, white male who doesn’t have a particular unique look is great in most professions, but in standup just makes me another dude. So I went through a few different style changes as a way to leave audiences remembering me.
When I started in standup the new wave to quickly headlining was being able to play the guitar. Audience’s had tired of too many Seinfeld-type observational comics, who weren’t great performers. With the help of morning radio shows like the Bob and Tom Show, music acts definitely had a leg up in many markets in the country. By the late 90’s it seemed like at least once a month a guitar act was the headliner. Heywood Banks, Sean Morey, Pinkard & Bowden, Tim Cavanaugh, Tim Wilson, Barry Martin, Rodney Carrington, and Pat Godwin are just a few that I can think of off-hand. The biggest college comic at the time was Stephen Lynch. 2 of my best friends in comedy, Dan Cummins and Rik Roberts used guitar as part of their shows. I have never been an elitist about standup. I wished I could play an instrument so I could have another angle towards comedy. I was always looking for what I called “the Hidden Guitar.”
In the late 90’s I spent a couple years using a mini-disc player to punctuate certain jokes. I would use song snippets from Metallica or drum fills on certain one-liners. It was interesting and it was definitely different than anything else I had seen, but it didn’t seem to make the splash I wanted it to. I will have to search out some old videotapes and post it some time. It’s been so long since I used the minidisc player I don’t even remember how it exactly went.
Back in 2007, I was a little disenchanted with my act. I had hit a writing wall and hadn’t added much new to my show. To kickstart things, I had come up with an idea. I have always felt my standup has been of two minds. One focused more on social commentary and the other focused on sexual topics. I decided to use this to my benefit by setting up 2 microphones onstage. One was dedicated to more intellectual fare. Good Scott. The other mic was for when I wanted to explore my degenerate side. Bad Scott. Thus was born, Bi-polar comedy.
What helped me sell this is my father was bi-polar and I feel like I might be a more functional undiagnosed version of it. Well, the bi-polar comedy thing did well from the start. It was unique and it created a great energy from the audience when I would walk between the mics. There was an anticipation, especially for the Bad Scott mic. Most of the audience wanted to hear me speak from it. Since the audience was more prepared for more adult fare when I was at that mic, it enabled me to go farther in content. It also was a great kickstart for new material, as especially the Bad Scott mic needed more quick sex jokes. It was all working well. Audiences would leave the show remembering me as Good Scott/Bad Scott. My creation had lived up to what I had hoped it would…
But it had some problems. Since it was so unique, it didn’t really fit the typical late-night 5 minute talkshow set. Right around this time, youtube became the key vehicle for promoting your standup. The best way to get hits on youtube is to have short clips, as people don’t have the time and patience to spend on watching. This posed a big problem with good scott/bad scott, as it took me 30 seconds to explain the bipolar comedy. I couldn’t put that at the beginning of each different clip. The charm of the 2 mics deal was that it built energy and got better and better during the set. My show was more like a jam band, as it was good live, but it was hard to translate the magic of it through video. (I know this sounds egotistical, but the energy of the thing was pretty cool.)
Another thing happened which made me rethink my 2 mic thing. The standup comedy world started to change at that point to more long form, storytelling material. Converging with that was my personal life was in an upheaval with my oldest daughter being diagnosed with autism and then having twin babies. Don’t get me wrong, I really loved doing the bipolar comedy bit because I was proud to create something that I felt was completely unique, but the reality-based comedy that was coming in vogue, plus my own life that was ripe for exploration made me feel Good Scott/Bad Scott might have run its course. I also felt like I couldn’t really take it farther artistically than I already had. Plus, I’m not going to kid you, another negative was it was a pain in the ass having to get to the gig early to set up the 2 mics. (The Hidden Guitar is more work on that front.)
So a little over a year ago, I stepped away from Good Scott/Bad Scott. I still have fans who come to my shows expecting the 2 mic thing. A few times after shows I’ve had fans come up and say they like my new show, but they miss Good Scott/Bad Scott. I feel a little badly in that situation, but on another level it’s cool that people felt connected to something I was doing. On a much smaller level it must be what it’s like for big draw acts when they come out with a new hour. I still expect to breakout the Good Scott/Bad Scott thing in the future, as I still think there is more to explore with it, but for the immediate future it will sit on the shelf.
I have posted an early video version of Good Scott Bad Scott that was taped at the initial Joke Joint location. (Best backdrop to tape a set I’ve ever had. Miss that backdrop.) I’m going to be pulling this video off youtube soon, as it’s the first video that pops up when people want to check me out. This poses a problem because not only do I not do the 2 mic thing anymore, but I also rarely do any of the material that is shown in the video.