Rather Be Lucky Then Good

The one thing I now know about comedy that I didn’t when I started was that some are good…and some are just lucky.  That goes with everything in life, right.  The guy that managed to get the regional manager job even though he has horrible people skills.  The band that is touring with Metallica even though they kind of suck.  The same with comedy.  I would rather be lucky then the guy that can kill a room, but nothing seems to go their way.  In my personal experience, I have seen it at least 50 times.  I have seen a comic that is not really exceptional, but they have other attributes that got them on the road for 30 weeks a year.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not hating.  If you get the chances then you were obviously standing in a spot be in front of it.  I am just saying that we all know that person that is persistent and confident and just pure lucky and that is why they are touring with some big comic.  I see it eat people up.  I have sat there and talked to comics and another guy will pop up and you can see the jealousy in their eyes.  I really don’t want to get that bitter.  Every working comic wants to get paid well enough that they can pursue comedy and nothing else.  I just try to work on my stuff and make sure I am ready if that chance ever comes my way.

By this time next week I will be in the big apple!  I am so excited I even went and bought new pants.  I want to see how my material will go over in New York.  I know that a lot of these places are tough, but I think with the right attitude on stage you can do well.  That is my goal.  To NOT suck.

I want to hit up museums ad stuff, but mainly I want to be engulfed in the comedy scene there.  I want to see how they run their shows.  Whenever I see a flyer it seems like the “headliner” is just the guy that can do 20-30 minutes.  That must make it tough to get an hour going.  You really have to be a touring comic to do a true headliner set.

I have not filmed anything for the documentary in about a week.  I do have a new lens though so now I can get back to it.  What I thought was going to take a week or two to get done is probably going to take about a month or two.  This is my first thing of this nature so I am a little nervous that I will mess it up.  I just want to make it not suck.

Need to get a website done.  I don’t know if I will start tomorrow or if I will start after New York, but I was basically laughed at for not having one.  It is a simple process, but my cheapness and my slackness has kept me from having one.

I think work for photography is going to take off pretty soon.  I have gotten more inquiries so that is always a good thing. I get nervous about taking people’s pictures because I don’t want to do a crappy job and people see that and not want anything to do with it.  Again.  I don’t want to suck.

I have also been slacking on the YouTube channel.  I don’t know why either.  I have topics that I want to do, I just don’t sit down and get it done.  It isn’t even hard.  It is just about me getting off my ass and doing it.

 

The Wheat From The Chaff

Guess what?  Not everyone is a comedian.  That is probably not a surprise, but what I mean is that people that are getting up on stage and doing comedy might not even be a comedian.  I’m not saying it in a stuck up way (I hope), what I am saying is that not everyone has what it takes to be a comic, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I see it every year.  I see new comics come out to the open mics and they will hit it hard for about 2-3 weeks and a couple of things become apparent.  One of the hardest things for newer comedians is what happens once their friends stop showing up.  A lot of people just can’t tell a joke if their friends are not there to laugh at them.  A lot of people are funny, but fewer people can make a room of strangers laugh consistently.  People show up with a table or two of friends and they can make them laugh, but when they show up by themselves (because your friends have better things to do) and realize they can’t make that room full of people that don’t know things about them.

What people don’t realize is that the majority of comics actually write material and then work it into something that people will laugh at more often than not.  What a lot of these guys do is get up and then talk to the audience like they are talking to their friends and they realize that it didn’t come out the same way.  Writing is an integral part of being a comedian.  You are as much a writer as you are a performer.  If you don’t have someone writing your jokes and you think you can get up there and wing with success you may fall flat on your face.  A lot of people run into to that wall and they never return.

What really pisses me off is the guy (or gal, I’m just using guy to represent all comics…don’t make this weird) that walks up after doing it for 3 months going, “So, how do I start making money?” That is not how it works!  A lot of people work their asses off, coming every week to open mics, and working on their jokes and getting their material to the point where they have a great half hour…and they still might not be getting paid.  I lucked out.  After I was doing it for about 3-4 months I was getting paid, but those were independent shows that just took a shot on me because they saw me every open mic.  When it came to clubs…hell, I am still not getting paid to perform in every club!  In Spokane it took me about 6 months in before I got to feature a weekend at a club.  It doesn’t happen that way for everyone.  If you have the material and it is good and you know the right people then you can get work, but getting work should not be the end goal.  The end goal should be to be funny.

People also just don’t commit.  If you don’t want to be a comedian and just want to do it every so often there is nothing wrong with that.  If you see it as a hobby or something on your bucket list then go ahead!  You can’t however, show up every couple of weeks and think you can become this great comedian.  It doesn’t work that way.  The reason people get out and do as many open mics they can is to polish their jokes and the stage persona that they are gonna go with.  If you want to be a comic but can’t get out often then it will not work.

Sometimes you just run up on someone that thought they were funny and it just doesn’t translate to the stage. I have seen that a lot.  They did everything and they were not funny.  There is nothing you can do about that.  They either can’t write a joke or they just don’t understand how jokes work.

Not everyone is made to be a comic.  Even if you get all that stuff above together you may still not want to be on the road all the time or worry about where your rent money is gonna come from or running around to get work.  Not to mention the people that will tell you you suck or the family that question your career choice.  If you want it though…GO out and get it!!

Why Banks Suck

I hate banks.  Banks are not in it to protect your money from home invaders.  They are not set up to make sure you can access your money without carrying a dirty sock everywhere.  They are built to take your money in anyway possible.  There entire existence is to take.

My dad told me to never trust anyone else with your money.  I forgot that lesson. Don’t trust friends or family with your money.  NEVER trust a bunch of strangers with it…

I am filming a documentary on the open mic scene of Spokane.  It isn’t gonna be long.  About 10-15 minutes.  I just want to show the places where comedy takes place and the talent that is in the city.  I love these guys.  A lot of them work to make themselves better.  It is a great thing to see.

I should be making a website, but I had trouble with it last week and so I just stopped.  That is why my calendar has so many holes in it.  I get distracted and discouraged fast.  That is not what makes a successful comic.

I get all these ideas and then I realize that I haven’t finished with the 4 I started months ago.  I was supposed to write a novella.  I was supposed to make Facebook page for my podcast and my photography business.  None of these things have been completed, and it’s all my fault.

I am basically shaking with excitement about going to New York.  I am gonna do all the tourist stuff and hopefully get on an open mic or 3.  Nintendo of America and FAO Shwartz will be visited.  I have all the stereotypical worries about NY.  I am scared of getting mugged and left for dead in a sewer.  I don’t even know why I am so close to a sewer to be left there for dead.  I’m 300 lbs.  They ain’t carrying me.

 

 

The 1st Amendment

In my almost 10 years of doing this, I inevitably come across a comedian that thinks they can get up on stage, say what they want and have nothing happen to them.  They like to parade around about their 1st amendment rights.  For those that don’t know, the 1st amendment to the United States Constitution gives citizens the right to freedom of speech (among other things).  This is true, but it is not so easy.  You can’t just jump up on stage say whatever you want and think it is alright.  It is an important concept to learn and I will attempt to dispel some common held beliefs.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now.  Your right to freedom of speech goes as far as the government not being able to throw you in jail for saying stuff.  It doesn’t really apply when you step on a stage.  Think about it.  Most of the time, we are in someone else’s building getting paid by them.  Your right to say what you want does not trump their rights.  The owner of the club has a right to the pursuit of happiness.  In this case let’s just say that what would make him happy is to have customers enjoy themselves.  Here is an example. Some one graffitis someones building.  They can’t then hide behind the 1st amendment saying it is their freedom of speech (freedom of expression…I am really trying to keep this simple) to deface someone’s property.  I hope this example help explain what I was trying to say.

As comedians I think we are in a unique position.  We already get to play around with a lot of taboos.  We can talk about abduction, murder, racism, everything.  So, sometimes I think people mix that up with them being untouchable because of the 1st amendment.  The reason we are in this position is because we are supposed to be able to tackle these topics and make them more palatable.  We are supposed to be the experts in taking stuff most people can’t make fun of and make fun of it.

The thing comics have to remember is that you are doing a job, and with any job there are rules.  I have done shows where they didn’t want me to talk about Native Americans or casinos.  It is well within their right, as a private entity, to request that from me.  And, as a private contractor, it is within my rights to not take the show.  You can’t have it both ways. You can’t take the money and then bitch that you can’t tell your Natives drink a lot jokes.  If your material means that much to you, or you can’t do the rest of your show without that piece in it then you need not apply to those spots.

This always comes up when someone tells a terrible rape joke or calls someone a racial slur on stage.  Then the place putting on the shows say stop calling people nigger and everyone gets bent out of shape.  Guess what?  If you need nigger to make your jokes funny then it isn’t really funny.  You fail as a comedian.

Someone who describes themselves as edgy, loves to hide behind the 1st amendment when they are either asked not to say certain things or they get called out for their BS.  Look, the first amendment may give you a right to say stupid shit, but it also gives everyone else the right to call you out on it.  The 1st amendment isn’t your say stuff without repercussions card.  You have to own up to the bs you are dropping.  If you say hurtful things about women and then after the show no woman buys your merch, you can’t say, “Well, I am just exercising my rights!”.  Well, they are exercising their rights to not buy your shit.

I hope this helped explain the 1st amendment as it applies to comedians.  The constitution interest me a lot, but I haven’t really been into since I got out of school.  If you notice anything wrong with it please let me know.  I don’t want to tell people wrong stuff.  I just want other comics to know that basically your rights don’t tump other’s rights.  My advice is that if you don’t like the rules put forth to do a show then don’t do it.  I have turned down shows (and some pretty good money) because they wanted something that I felt I could not deliver.  I am not a dirty comic per say, but sometimes when I am feeling like it, I will go down that path.  They also wanted a Christian show and I had no idea what that meant.  So instead of taking the show, saying something about spilling my seed and then getting into this thing, I just said I could not do it and told them about someone that I thought that could.

I really hope you enjoy reading these post.  I really enjoy writing them.  Writing was something I used to do a lot. I haven’t done it as much, but thanks to this I can do it and at the same time give information to those that may be looking for it.  Like always these are not the thoughts of someone that is a millionaire from comedy.  I just had to learn it the hard way and just thought I should write down what it was from my point of view.  You might not like my thoughts on certain things, but if you do go out and do it your way!  You may find a better way of going about it.  A way that will make you happier as a comic and a person.

 

Blog Posts And New Nintendo 3DS XLs

I wrote about rape jokes Monday and it got a lot of traffic.  It also got one or two “You are stupid” comments, but I chalk that up to people not really reading the article.  No where in the thing did I say, “Hey, just traumatize people some more by talking about rape!”.  I mentioned in the top two lines of the article that it is a sensitive subject.  I also made it known that anything can be funny.  I have jokes about my heart attack and my stroke.  We are comedians!  We are supposed to poke fun at the things that make people uncomfortable.  You just have to be careful with it though.

I think next week’s article will be about the 1st Amendment.  It is a really popular subject with performers.  I also think that a lot of performers have no clue what they are talking about when they discuss their rights.

I am a gadget geek.  I don’t write about it that much because it doesn’t make much sense on a blog about comedy, but I love gadgets.  This Friday a new gadget will fall into my life.  The Nintendo 3DS XL:

th

I have been in love with handhelds since my sister bought me an original gameboy 20 years ago. I already have it reserved.  I might just go to the store early because I’m weird like that.

I have my first photo shoot today.  This is a big deal.  I am nervous because I want to deliver the best product.  I have everything ready to go though.  Lights are ready.  Camera and lenses are clean.  All I need is someone to snap pictures of.  I am hoping this becomes a nice little side thing.  The only problem is just getting my name and services out there.  That has always been my weak spot.  That is why I have been in Spokane for 10 years…

 

The Rape Joke

This is a very touchy subject.  The last couple of years have had high profile comics getting in trouble for their jokes about rape.  I am of the school of thought that anything can be made funny if you take the time to find the funny in it.  Rape is no exception.  Now, there is nothing funny about someone getting raped.  That is a terrible thing that should not be joked about.  But their are some aspects of rape, like rape culture, that can be made fun of.  There are a couple of things we need to go over about how to make a rape joke.

I think it takes a skilled comedian to write a rape joke that isn’t making light of a person being victimized.  I also think there are double standards that exist that you can exploit if you are going to make a rape joke.  First, you trying to make fun of you raping a person rarely works.  I said rarely.  This is where the double standard comes into play.  You can talk about fantasy characters raping each other (Like that skunk in the old cartoons always trying to have sex with that painted cat).  You can talk about raping a terrible person (Hitler, Pol Pot), but you can not talk about raping a person in the audience (Daniel Tosh learned that lesson), or how you would like to rape someone.

Personally, I have not found a way to make rape funny.  I have a joke about how apocalyptic movies always have cannibals and rapist and I rarely say the rape part because I am afraid that I will lose the audience with just the word rape.  There are however, two comedians in Spokane that have really well put together rape jokes.  The thing that make these jokes work is that it is not focusing on raping anyone.  They bother go after the way society perceives rape and I think they both work really well.  Mike Evens and Steve Johnson have found a way to talk about rape and not focus on the hurtful, disgusting parts, but what society has done to rapist and to victims.  I think this is a very important thing to say.  They found a very great way to dissect this topic without making people feel uncomfortable.

That is not to say they can go and tell these jokes on Fallon!  The word rape is right up there with Nigger and Kike in the eyes of many.  Whenever that word is uttered on stage, people will coil up and defend themselves without hearing what else you have to say.  This is something you have to understand about trying to do material of this ilk.  That is why so many people fail as well.  They go into it thinking they can just break through people’s preconceived notions on that topic.  You can’t.  That is like going up and telling a room full of Catholics that god doesn’t exist and expect them to laugh at the punchline.  You will lose a majority of people.  Mike and Steve found a way to do it that works.  I have seen them do it in front of different crowds and they get a great response.  The reason is because first, they don’t make it a big deal.  That is what kills me about white comics that want to say nigger in their jokes.  Don’t linger on the words.  It brings attention to it.  Just do the bit like you are talking to your friends.  Because trust me, a lot of people talk about this stuff.  It is also a great ideal if the joke isn’t really about rape.  Rape may be a component of the joke, but not the main focus.  For example, Mike’s rape joke is really about how we handle rapist.  How we put them in jails were that is a common thing.  Second, it has to be good.  I have heard other comics talk about rape and it is not well handled.  If the joke is not good it is not good…and you just talked about rape.  That is double bads!  Third, move on.  Don’t deliver the end of the story or the punchline and then talk about how you took the audience through the rape swamp.  It is over and done with.  Don’t make the audience think that you have somehow done the impossible.  They expect that from you already!  You are a comedian.  You are supposed to make them laugh on command.  Don’t be so impressed with yourself.  That is probably why both Mike and Steve’s bits are so great.  They do the bit and then move on.  Not to another rape joke (why are you writing so many rape jokes), but to something that brings the crowds buttholes to a nice calm level.

If I haven’t made it clear in the beginning let me make it clear now.  Rape is not a common topic to make light of.  Neither is cancer (I have done a cancer joke early in my career that got a pretty good response…it wasn’t really about cancer though, it was about my fear of doctors) or AIDS (no AIDS jokes here) or child abductions( I do have a child abduction joke, but I am the one getting abducted).  You are a comedian.  You are suppose to take the subjects that are hard to digest and make them palatable.  We do it with drivers, and loud people, and assholes, and creeps, and craigslist.  We find a unique spin on a subject and make fun of it.  Just remember that unlike getting cut off there are people that have been hurt and have had their lives changed forever.  Don’t hurt them more.

Daughters And Daddies

This past weekend, I took my kid to the daddy daughter dance.  She wanted to go last year, but I was out of town so we were not able to do that.  I felt bad.  You always want to create memories with your children, Especially if it is not that expensive. We went and had a great time.  I think she will see that I can dress up.  That I can dance without being ridiculous, and that we are all a little crazy.

I just got a couple new lenses so I am really excited to get some comics in here and take their head shots.  I think I have shown that I can do pretty good work and they also know (I think) that I am not gonna do them wrong.  I have a reputation in the Spokane comedy community.  I don’t want to mess it up to make a couple of bucks.

Very excited about New York.  I think this is the thing I need for my career.  I need to venture out and se if what I’m doing can be successful in front of different types of people.  I know it works in the Northwest.  I don’t know if it would work over on the east coast or the south or in front of an all black audience (it’s usually mixed results).  I think with the sheer number of opportunities to get on stage there you either know pretty soon that it isn’t working or you know that you still have a chance in this business.

I was listening to a podcast and a guy was telling a caller not to move to a big city like Chicago, New York, or L.A. because those places are for people that have at least time.  I totally agree with that.  The weird thing was that he said he was doing it for six years!  I have been doing it for nearly 10.  I still don’t think I have what it takes to make a run in a big city.  Mainly because of finances.  If I had a job prospect in the area, or If I had a chance to get some decent comedy work (like opening for an established comedian) then I would do it.

Spokane is a great place to know if you can do it though.  I have watch some comics in the area go from 0 to 100 in a matter of months.  Mike Evans, Ryan McComb, Steven Tye, and Mattie Sobatka are names that come to mind right away.  People that just got up on stage and it clicked really fast for them.  I think it is mostly because they have a sense of what they would like to talk about sooner than most people.  That is not to say there are no other good comics.  It’s just that these guys (and gal) got good really fast.

Still making YouTube videos.  I like doing it.  Even if they don’t do crazy numbers.  I have to remind myself that I only know like 10 people that would check my stuff out regularly.  What you have to do is keep on trucking until you gain an audience.  That is how my comedy career has worked, and look where that got me…wait…