Celebrity Standup Class

Since the summer is slower for comics like myself who live in the Midwest, I decided to be a lot more proactive and create my own shows. I make more money, but it’s a lot more work because I have to do all the promotion. I also decided that I wanted to try a couple new concepts that would create more media attention for my club shows. One of them is a show I’m doing on June 30th, as part of my headlining week at Crackers Comedy Club.

I know a lot of people in the radio biz because of my doing so many appearances to promote my comedy shows across the country. I have had a few tell me they always had a fantasy to try standup comedy. I told them if they ever wanted to give it a try, give me a shout, and I would be glad to be a sounding board. My friend, really funny comic from Chicago, Pat McGann, did a thing called Chicago Standup Project, where he helped get some media types ready for a show that was taped for the PBS series in Chicago. Both Pat and I have been really busy, so I don’t know the whole process it took to make it happen, but it was an inspiration for me to try to do my own version of it.

My idea was to get local media types who have never done standup. I wanted to see what could happen if I met with them and taught them my theories on how to perform standup, got some ideas from them and helped them write material, let them practice onstage in front of just each other a couple of times, then see what the final product would be for a 5 minute set. I wanted to do some type of documentary film, demonstrating the process.

My friend, Indy Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz, told me he was interested, so I knew I had one local celeb on-board. I had a lot of other Indy targets that I hit up and I was surprised to find that none of them took me up on it. Fortunately my new friend, Paul Poteet, helped hook me up with a couple other people. Paul is the funniest weatherman since David Letterman, but since he’s hosted standup before, he wasn’t a good fit for what I was trying to do.  He helped me a lot, though, by getting me in touch with Nikki Reed from WZPL and Jake Miller from FOX 59 TV, plus got me in touch with Ramon Carera of Indy Audio-Visual Productions who liked the documentary concept, so I was on my way.

Nikki and Bob have met with me with 3 times at the club for 90 minutes. Besides that they sent me joke ideas/stories that I helped them craft into standup material. Bob is one of the best sports columnists in the country and also one of the funniest, so writing material for him wasn’t exactly heavy-lifting. The work he needed was helping find a style that would work for him delivering in it. Nikki is a great performer and has a funny mind, which makes her great on radio. Standup uses a different muscle, so we had to work on creating tighter material and helping reign her in from going off on tangents that would take away from her onstage rhythm. I’m really excited to see them do their thing because I believe both are going to do really well.

Jake was a more last-minute addition. Because of this, he only had the chance to attend the last class. It’s not totally fair to him, but Jake loves standup and he does great impressions, so I believe he will rise to the occasion. He seems like a natural.  We’ve worked online together crafting material for him and I’m stoked to see the response he gets.

So Indy Celebrity Standup has 3 members of the media. A good mix, as TV, radio, and newspapers are represented. As a journalism major, this might be the closest I ever get to hanging around the people I thought I would be working with when I was studying the subject in college, instead of the degenerate standup comics I surround myself with.  This process has only cemented what I already believed about the media business. Even though they are media gigs, they have different restrictions that go with them. Radio is the loosest, as Nikki doesn’t have many concerns about content. Bob is so established that I don’t believe he is too concerned with what he says onstage. Jake, though, has a tighter leash, as he’s a news reporter and he has to be more careful about how he presents himself.  Comedians sometimes forget how much freedom we have to say what we want. It almost makes up for the shitty pay and no benefits.

I will post more about this event in the future and the progress of the documentary. Much like this blog, the whole thing has been a massive time suck and I don’t get any direct compensation for doing it, but I feel coming up with new creative concepts is all part of my profession. Just thought I would share one of the things I’m doing with my summer vacation.

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