The closer I get to this comedy competition the more I start looking within to evaluate my faults as a comic. Everyone has them if they look hard enough. I think that is probably one of the best skills you can learn as a comedian…hell even as a person. If you know where you are weakest, you can either strengthen or hide that weakness. Comedy competitions can expose a comic’s weakness. If you can’t do clean material to save your life then you will have a hard time in a clean comedy contest. If you take too long to set up jokes, then you will suffer when there isn’t a lot of time to do so. Here are some of my major faults and how I try to deal with them.
Performing in Spokane is a blessing and a curse. I get a lot of stage time, but I get A LOT of stage time. That doesn’t really prepare you for contest where time is a critical component to success. It might be alright to go over your time at an open mic, but it is not a good idea when you are competing. I have trouble with this. I think a lot of comics do. We like to get up there and make people laugh. If someone isn’t forcing you off the stage you will take that time! That isn’t the case in larger cities where they can have almost 50 people to do an open mic and they give you 2-3 minutes HARD. You go over by a second and they cut the mic off and ask you not to come back next week. I have lost two competitions because I went over my time. I think the best way to solve this problem is to set the timer on my phone. There are apps out there just for this purpose. Just set it and watch your time and that should hopefully solve that.
Another problem that is not just with Spokane, but a lot of places that set up in bars is material. Your material gets a lot darker when you have to perform in front of a certain group of people. I think that is because that is what gets drunken people paying attention. You get em with the hard stuff and then see if you can work in your normal material. What has happened with me though is that I get dark real fast and that can turn people off. I have to remember my situation. That is where the host is a really important piece. If they know what they are doing, a host can find out what you should be doing before you even get up on stage.
Some of my material can take a while to get to a place. I have tried chopping them down a bit, but I see that is a result of all the stage time early on. I could get on stage and waste 20 minutes setting up jokes that had a reward, but when it comes to competitions that is time that can be put to doing more jokes. That is the focus for me of this competition, to throw more jokes out there. That way when compared to the person that did one great; if you did 3 great jokes then you can be seen as a better comic. At least that is the theory.
I think my biggest fault as a comedian, is also my biggest fault when I am off the stage. My shyness. I hate using that word! I feel like a 4th grader whenever I say shy or timid. See, getting up on stage isn’t as natural for me as it may be to a lot of other comics. I was the kid that was terrified to read in class and never asked a girl out unless it was on a piece of paper. I avoid saying goodbye to people at work because I don’t want to talk to them and I don’t talk to the audience while I am performing because I don’t know if I have had enough time talking to people to come up with a proper response. I am a mess. That is why the first thing people say when they find out I am a comic is, “You? But you hardly talk!” Now, the shyness, at least for me, has a origin in my self-esteem. As such it is impossible for me to take praise. In my mind I cannot see why anyone would think I was attractive or smart or funny. Now, this is a paradox because how would I get paid to do comedy if I didn’t think I was funny enough. Hell, I don’t know! It just happened. It’s probably like when someone gets paid to bang out on camera. What I am trying to get at is that my self-esteem puts my head in places that sabotages me. Sometimes I will get on stage and my brain will say, “You are not funny!” and then I start acting like it. It has kept me from sending out my promo package and getting more dates because I get so down on myself that as a comic, I can’t function. There is no easy fix for this. This is my brain juices we are talking about here. This has been my make up for 40 some odd years. I have doubted myself out of prime opportunities. No matter how much people enjoy my comedy and me as a person, my self-esteem will not allow me to enjoy it. I have a hard time writing a Bio for myself, or telling people to come to my show because I can make them laugh. I try not to say I am funny out loud because I am afraid that the universe will make me pay for those words. I doubt my advancement in the competition because of how others did. This is no time to doubt this! I have to just believe that I am funny enough to do well in this competition. This is the chance I have been waiting for, and I do not want to be sabotaged by myself. If I lose, I want it to be because someone bested me, not me doubting myself.