This is the first part in a…I don’t know many part series about some of the tools that comics used to get the job down. Every comedian, at one point or another, has had to write their jokes and premises down and we will discuss the most popular right now.
If you go to an open mic, the one thing you will see a lot of is comics getting drunk, the next thing you will see though is that a lot of them are carrying notebooks. A comics first notebook is one of the coolest things to look into. That is when you can see the chances they were willing to take and you can see who they were influenced by. My notebook had a lot more political and current event stuff then I write nowadays.
A notebook is important because it helps you take that idea and do what you were taught since school, to write your ideas down. Without a place to retain your material how are you gonna to recall it or go back to it later to polish it? I started with a notebook because when I first started I had a flip phone and a PDA, but I never thought about putting my jokes in any of those.
I went from a notebook to an electronic device after I saw comedian, and cool ass pimp, Nate Jackson using a Tmobile sidekick to write all of his jokes down. I went out and got a sidekick because at the time those were the cheapest phones that would let you write notes into them. A lot of comics say they don’t like to do that because there is a disconnect between the idea and then the typing. I think that is because a lot of them don’t write other things. I am a writer, and I love technology, so it doesn’t bother me to write my jokes into my phone. The biggest problem that I experienced with writing into a phone is how do you get your jokes if you happen to go to another phone. I ended up having to send like 200 emails to myself when I left tmobile. After that I looked for a way to keep my jokes in a place where I could control them. That is when I discovered Evernote! It is a program that is on computers, and mobile devices and you can manipulate your notes anywhere. Your jokes are kept in the cloud so you can get them if you change services and devices. The only downside is if you do not have a cell signal you can not get to all of your material. That has happened to me a couple of times. You can buy the premium service and be able to cache you material locally, but I have never really been that hard up for that.
Write now I use an iPad to do my joke writing into. When I am out and about and I don’t have my iPad, I can just type out a joke into Evernote and be good to go. I like that I can write whenever inspiration hits.
I have also used the Galaxy Note to write my jokes into. The Note phones have big screens and a stylus and you use the stylus to write notes. I think this is the best of bother worlds. If you have to write a joke rather than type it you can and you have it in a device that you carry all the time.
Comics also like to write down their set list and that is a varied as the methods of writing jokes down. I used to write the first line of every joke on a piece of paper. Then, I stopped that and went to what most comics do and just write something to remind you of what to do. I don’t write set list anymore. I just put together a set depending on my mood and the crowd and go. I have seen comics do everything from tape it to their beer bottle to write it on their hands. There is no wrong way here just make sure to get your set list somewhere you can see it. When I go to open mics, I like to just read right off my iPad. You can also do that with bigger phones like the Note and the new bigger iPhones.
No matter what the idea is simple. Get your jokes down and be able to work on them later. Unless you are pure improv, you need to get your ideas in a place where you can look at them later.