The popularity of performance art as ebbed and flowed since someone named it performance art. Out of all the performance arts though, stand-up comedy could be considered the youngest and the one seen with the most skepticism.
I think comedy is seen as the lesser of the performance arts for several reasons one being that the core of stand-up comedy (or all comedy) is the joke. And the joke cannot be measure empirically. You cannot measure the power of a joke. You can’t weigh it. The only way of knowing if a joke worked is if people laughed. That is problem! People laugh at different times about different things. What worked one day could never work again. This isn’t the case with dance. You either do the move smoothly or you don’t. If you juggle and drop the ball everyone knows that you are not supposed to do that.
Another reason comedy has a lesser status is with the content of the material. A large amount of jokes are intended to take something that we hold for granted (like airplanes) and poke fun at it. This works great in some case like the family order, but in other ways, like religion, it doesn’t. Because comedy is making light of certain situations, I feel a lot of people avoid stand-up comedy unless they know the comedian. Why go to a bar and see a comic that might talk about how terrible republicans are, when you can save up 50 bucks and know that the guy with the puppets will do stuff that doesn’t challenge you in those ways.
We have to also be aware of the places in which comedy shows are being held. They are not being done in the nice wine rooms a lot of the time. They are being performed in the rowdy bars of America, and a lot of people are turned off to that. A lot of people will also not really hold your art form in high regard when it involves making alcoholics laugh.
I think the only way these negative stereotypes can be taken away from stand-up comedy is time. There are so many comedians out there that are not doing the things that got comedy looked down upon that I think eventually comedy can be seen in the same light as dance and other types of performance art.
I a writing this on my phone because I sold my iPad and laptop. Don’t worry. I will be back in full swing hopefully by next week. Not having my laptop means that this post will be short and probably meaningless to many of you. I had a fellow comic ask me about being in a rut and how to fix it. The thing about this is that I believe being in a rut creatively is normal and natural in order to create better art. If you are always happy with the end result you will be less likely to change it.
When I am I satisfied with the way my set is going I start to take chances in stage. I will talk about recent events or start acting silly. Anything to reawaken the demon that got me on stage in the first place. I try not to keep going over the same material because it isn’t helping me. I focus on pushing forward. Now. This will lead to bad sets. You will not be 100% perfect but you will be better for it.
Ok. My thumbs are on fire. I’ll see you guys next week!
I found out last week that I was invited to compete in the 35th Seattle International Comedy Competition (SICC). I was really happy…for about 10 minutes. Then it hit me. This is just the beginning. This is not the end, but the beginning of what could be a very worthy journey.
I have been actively trying to get into the SICC for about 3 years now. The first year, I did not really take it seriously. I felt that like a lot of other comedy competitions that it was for people with a name a reputation, not someone like me. I am a road comic. I travel the region bringing joy to many dive bars. At the time I just did it because people said that I should. The next time I tried to get into it I was a little more serious. I felt like I was ready to make some waves in this competition. I sold my iPad and made the trek to Seattle. I got up, performed, and drove home. I did not feel as though it was my best performance, but I felt that I had a small chance. I did not get in. It was a blow to my ego, but I kept trucking and this year I got in.
What I kept getting from my comedian friends was, “Have fun!” and that is something that a lot of people forget. Every one thinks they are the better comic, and so there is a lot of pressure to prove it. No one wants to go home after the first week, and most people are not from Seattle so they are struggling with getting room and board and going through the city. All this will lead to a lot of people putting pressure on themselves. I can tell you all this. I am one of those people. I will throw all of my efforts into one thing, and let it hurt me if it doesn’t go through the way I want it too. That is the wrong way to go about a competition. Everyone things they are competing against everyone else. You are not! You are competing against you. If you do the best you can possibly do then you can succeed…at least that is my theory.
I am going over there with the mindset that this is mainly to get my name and act out there to more people. That is the most important part. What that means is I have to get up there every night and show the world what I can do. I can not worry about the musical act or the guy that just murdered it before I got on stage. I have to go up, perform my ass off, and hopefully that will get me further in the competition. I problem is I will get inside my own head and mess my own performance up. What I need to do is forget about the end result and just try to get through the journey.
If I told you that I am not afraid though I would be lying. I am afraid of letting Spokane’s comics down. These guys have worked so hard to finally get recognized and I don’t want to mess that up. I want people to look further into Spokane not look away from it. I am afraid that I will fail hard over there. These of course are silly thoughts. I should not worry about these things.
As I get my plans in order, I also think of the long trek ahead. If you make it all the way, there is three weeks of driving and performing and trying to be name the winner of the 2014 Seattle International Comedy Competition. That title doesn’t mean anything though if you are not ready to work get you name out there and this helps it. If you can make a name in the competition then you can advance your career to the next level. And that is a worthy journey.
Slacking off has killed more comedians than alcohol and prescription pain meds combined. Slacking happens, I believe, happens to every comic making it in comedy is largely dependent on your ability to get stuff done. Unlike a normal job, the entertainment business is based on your getting out there and doing the leg work. It is very easy to slack off. Lets talk about it.
I often notice that the biggest reasons people start slacking off on the hustle that is comedy, is a new relationship, or a new job. The job thing is understandable. You have to pay your bills. There is no way around that. The thing is, I have never taken a job that will interfere with my ability to do comedy. If you work night shifts, it can be tough to get to open mics or paid shows because you are supposed to be at work. A new relationship adds to the slacking because now you don’t have all that spare time to just go to open mics and go to coffee shops to write. Sex is a great way to put comedy on the way side. When you are getting a blowie every other day (lucky!), all of a sudden comedy doesn’t seem that important. It is hard to have multiple priorities, but I have never wanted to be in a relationship unless I can keep doing comedy.
Another way that “slack” can kill the comic is depression or low self esteem. This is what gets me. I get so down on myself that I stop sending out stuff or wanting to pursue comedy. I will go 3-4 months without doing anything productive comedy wise. That is why I had to change some stuff. That is why I started to YouTube videos and writing this blog, I need to constantly be in the comedy state of mind and push through the bad times to get to the times when I want to get up and push my career along. I think a lot of comedians hit an obstacle and just decide to give up at that point. It is easy to do so. It can be hard to be told no over and over, or not getting a response to sending emails and stuff. This happens. This is the normal progression of comedy. Not everyone will just start doing comedy and 5 years later start making a living at it. I think that is what kills the spirit of a lot of comedians. Comedy is a constant struggle. You have to write, you have to perform, and you have to promote yourself. This can all be really hard when you have mental illness and can easier dissuade. You have to remember that slacking will only hurt your comedy and you are the only one that cares about your career.