When I first started doing comedy, I, like a lot of other people, looked to books about comedy to gather information and advice. One thing I never got about those books is that they spent a large amount of time telling people how to write jokes. I always found that weird because if you want to be a comic, you kinda already know how to make people laugh. Just go do that on a stage. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it is better then taking someone else’s method of joke writing.
I used to write everything I thought was funny into my notebook or my phone. I would then either read it to rewrite it or I would just do what I had on stage and work it out from there. This suited me until I found myself with all these jokes that didn’t really have a place in my normal show. I have jokes about cats and pandas and religion, but in all it didn’t really mesh well. What I started doing almost naturally was blending all similar jokes together. Not writing them like that, but just doing one similar joke on stage ended up bring forth all the other jokes that I had written. This worked out well because it kept on subject and it really made it seem like I planned it that way when really they were a bunch of smaller jokes that my brain put together without me knowing it.
If there is one problem with writing as many jokes as I do is that I can’t remember them all. They are in my phone, I can pull them up, but I chose to just walk on stage and try to remember any new ones. If I can’t then that is too bad. Which sucks when you are trying to record stuff to check you progress and you see that you are still doing the same jokes as last open mic. The thing I do now is I usually will go up with a couple of jokes either written to completion or in my head and I work it out at an open mic. Some of my best material has come about that way. I will be on stage and my brain will say “Say this they will laugh” and I say it and they laugh. The problem is that if I do it on stage and it was kind of complicated (not just a funny line) Then I will probably never do it again for fear that I will mess up what made the original so great. That means I should record myself more.
The entertainment business is not like your job. If you do well at your job you get a raise and if you do really well you may get your own office. No such thing happens with comics. It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job what you have to do is push it. Because sitting around will not get you those paying gigs.
This is my dilema. I have been doing stand-up since 2004. I have been getting paid to do it since late 2004. With all that time on my hands you would think that I would have at least started getting more work. Nope! Because I fluctuate how much I want to be in this. I don’t know if it is because my heart isn’t in it like you would need it to be if you were going to be doing comedy professionally or just that I am afraid of failure. It scares me to think that this thing that I think I am good at I may not actually be. You usually think like that after a horrible show, but it also translate into how you go after work. Do you make the calls and write up the emails and send out the packets like you need too? Do you get on their ass about dates? I think it may just be an issue because I have been in school, getting enough money to live on. If that goes away and I had to rely on comedy full time I may go after it with more gusto.
I moved in to my girl’s place. It is a vast improvement over where I was staying before. The thing is that I think of things differently now. I do not just have my own self to worry about, but my lady as well. I could go a couple of weeks without doing shows because I had only so many bills. What about now? I can’t do that. I have rent to pay dammit! Subconsciously I may have done it to either push me to get a regular job or to go after comedy with full force. We shall see.
Right now I am in a place that I don’t know how to get out of. I headline one nighters, but I can’t expect to go to a larger city and have that happen. So right now I am in a weird phase where I can barely get feature work in a comedy club, but it doesn’t pay enough, or I can go on the road doing one nighters, but those kill your soul slowly. This has depressed me deeply. I think it may be a slurpee kind of day.
I Spokane, comedy is a struggle. The thing is that Spokane is the largest city in Eastern Washington and the next biggest city even close to that would be Boise Idaho. It is always a weird thing to go to a place that is out of Spokane and see people coming in to see comedy and then you come home and have that not be the case. For a long time I used to wonder about why that is. Why do people in the Spokane area not come out to comedy. The problem is that there are many reasons and some of those reasons you can not simply put a flyer up to change.
1. Stereotype: This is something you will not be able to change. There is a difference between what you see on TV and what you get in a comedy club. All the bad words are bleeped out and the comedian can cut out a risky joke. You don’t get that when you sit in a bar or a club and listen to a guy talk about some pretty messed up stuff from time to time. As entertainment, it is a harder sell to your in-laws to come see comedy then to go see say a PG-13 movie. That is mainly because smaller clubs are not going to have people that you may be aware of. The internet is such that you can find out about any working comic so you can see if the content of his act is to your liking, but if they have nothing on them then you don’t know what you get. Then there is the problem I see all the time at clubs in Spokane. No one wants to sit in the front because they have seen where the people in the front will get picked on. Never mind the fact that if you are in the third row of seats that just makes the third row of seats the first row of people.
2. Advertising: I have been doing comedy for about 8 years now and when I talk to people I still get told that they love comedy, but they didn’t know where any clubs are in town. Now they could just be lying, or it could be because of the way clubs have been ran in Spokane for a long time. When I first started the comedy club I used to go to to work was in the basement of a hotel. A lot of people don’t know that. It wasn’t advertised, I had to go look for it. Clubs in Spokane are usually in an established bar, so it is assumed that because the bar is known that the club within it would also be know, which is not the case apparently, because many people have approached me, telling me they did not know that. The thing is Advertising is such a risky thing. If you put money into it. Just because you spend $1,000 bucks on ads doesn’t mean you will get a noticeable return back. That is something you can not tell a bar owner when they already have to pay all these things and they have to pay comics to be there. They assume that most comics will do the pushing themselves.
3. Spokane: This is the biggest one to me and the one that you will not change. For the most part, the people of Spokane don’t want to see comedy. That is not to say that there is not a comedy market here. There is, it’s just really small. Don’t get me wrong. If you bring a big name in people will come out, but that is not the same as a road comic and people going in to see them. The Comedy Clubs I have done out of Spokane have shown me that. I have seen packed rooms on a Wednesday. I have seen standing room only in places. So people still want to see comedy, just not in Spokane. I think it is due to the fact that Spokane has different values then others cities. I hear all the time how there is nothing to do in Spokane, but yet I also see that all people really want to do is sit around the house, drink, and complain that Spokane is boring. This is the mentality of the town. It is also a conservative town, so a lot of people do not want to go somewhere and be told that they are wrong for hating brown people. We just have a lot more of those types of people here, so it is harder to convince them to come and participate in that.
I think the only big problem that can be solved is #2. Just making people aware that there is comedy in this town and if you want to see it then you can get off your butt and go see it. The other two are human based and you can’t change those overnight. The only thing you can do is let people know that there is comedy out there for you. You just have to look for it.