Comedian Tools Of The Trade Part 2: The Stage

Ok, so I kinda remembered that I have talked about everything else so I made up a part 2 on the spot.  I have talked about cars and freaking notebooks, and I ran out of things I could call tools.  So I thought that I would lump the stage as a tool so I could at least get a part 2 done and the 12 of you reading this would say, “well, he did promise a sequel.”

All fourth wall breaking aside, the stage is the second most valuable tool a comedian has.  You can write all day long, but if you do not get on stage and try what you wrote out, you will not know if it is actually a good joke.  If you are within driving distance of a place to get up on stage and perform you are already there. Now, all you have to do is get there and actually get on the damn stage.  I have heard so many people after a show say, “Well, I’ve wanted to try it out, but I just don’t even get a chance to come.”  That, my friends, is an excuse, and excuses will have you saying you never did stuff you wanted to do when you are about to die.  Getting up on the stage is like cracking open an egg.  Once you do you either bake a cake or you leave it under someone’s car seat in the summer…that was a terrible analogy.

A lot of people look for comedy open mics to get there start.  You don’t need that though!  You can ask the local band if you can get up and warm the crowd up.  You can host local events.  You can go around town and see if any trivia nights need a host.  There are many ways to get seen in front of people.  I know what you may be thinking, well the stage isn’t really important than it’s the people and this article is totally stupid.  Well, to that I would say, hey!  You know what I mean!

Anyway, the point of getting on stage is to work on the craft.  See comedy isn’t like acting and music.  You can be an overnight success as an actor or a singer, comedians have a longer road, and the reason is because a jokes are just written they are born and grown.  Most of the comedians you see on TV and film have been doing it a long time.  They didn’t get on late night TV after a couple of open mics, it takes years to craft enough jokes to be seen at that level.  That is why stage time is such a great tool for comedians.

If you live in a big city, than you are in luck because there are many more places to get up on stage. When I was in Seattle, there were a ton of open mics every day of the week (sometimes twice a day).  That gives you an awful lot of time to work on your material.  There is a downside to so many stages and so many comedians wanting that time.  Bigger cities usually have all kinds of ways to keep the amount of people getting stage time on a given night down.  Now, that is not their fault.  If you didn’t have a cut off or a time in which comedians should get there, you would be there all night long.  The complaint I have is that with so many comedians wanting that stage time, a lot of bookers will take advantage of that.  They will not pay an MC or short change a feature act because they say they are doing them a favors, when in reality what they are doing is taking advantage of people that what that stage experience.

Spokane is different.  We have enough stages and enough comics that it is an almost perfect situation.  One open mic does have a cut off, but that is because it is the most popular open mic in the city and they have to do something.

My advice to those that are starting out and looking for stage time is make sure you have a plan when you do get up.  If you only have five jokes, work on those five jokes until you feel they are good and then move on.  It is a process being a comedian.  You want to work to a point where you can present a show.  If you are not taking advantage of the time on stage to work on crafting new jokes then you are wasting everyone’s time.  The stage is suppose to be a laboratory where you bring your experiments and test them out on real people.  At least that’s how I look at it.  Don’t be afraid to see what works and what doesn’t.  That is how you will develop as a comedian.  If you are great at writing dick jokes then you might want to see where you are at with kitty material. I have seen some brilliant stuff on many a stage and some weird stuff, but you don’t know what you got until you try it out.  And that is why I think the stage a a valuable tool for comedians…man, that end there sounded like a school report.  I hated do those things.  I never like writing about things other people tell me to write about.  One time a teacher wanted me to write about the correlation between childhood neglect and criminal behavior.  I’m a rebel!  I write what I WANT!! So I wrote a 5 page “report” on who would win out of a badger and a hedgehog with the ability to shoot a gun.  I got a D.  Hey, I didn’t get an F so she must have smell my rebel side.  Half of this paragraph was meaningless.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s