Thursday, May 22, 2008

Open-Mic Night II

The competition really intimidated me. One guy had a real hook instead of one of his hands--a real hook! He made a call-back to the questionnaire question (obviously, the right answer was hook because there are so many great hook jokes)! That hook gave him so much material, it didn't seem fair--kind of like that olympic runner whose bionic, er, artificial legs give him an unfair advantage. If having fake legs helps you run, having one hand is a huge advantage in comedy (the logical extension of this is that Darth Vader could probably really knock 'em dead if he tried--maybe those guys he chokes are really dying of laughter that is so intense that they can't breathe or make noise or act like they're having fun).

There was also a half-black, half-white guy there. He was hilarious. How is a white guy like me supposed to compete with a fellow who has the entire world of awkward race-relations from which to harvest his jokes? Another guy looked just like the guy on the Verizon commercials. I concede that all of the aforementioned were talented. Other people had other great material. I suppose in a sense every comic has his own unique set of jokes that he can pull off because of who he is. I found myself secretly hoping that someone would bomb before I had to go on. I nearly left and nearly didn't come back (though I was closer to leaving than not coming back. . .since you have to leave before you don't come back, I guess).

My set went pretty well. Early on I got a big laugh with clapping (well, I could hear clapping in the low-fi recording I made), which is a big prize for a comic. My pacing was ok (I talked a little too fast and said a few too many words, but not by much on either count). I forgot which jokes I would do and skipped a bunch, but since I had intended to do 3 minutes and I used up 2.5, I think I was ok (perhaps it was an impeccable timing instinct that made me leave the stage 30 seconds before time?). I got some other decent-sized laughs (some of which I'd tentatively characterize as "big").

The toughest thing was that the jokes that I thought were really funny I either forgot to say or they didn't go over as well with the crowd as I thought. The premise that got the best reception I thought was so corny that it almost seemed Vaudevillian ("I've been told I have a face that only a mother could love. . .which is a real shame since I'm only interested in women who don't already have kids. . ." etc.).

Overall I think it was good and worthwhile. I hope the club bigwigs agree.

Open-Mic Night

So tonight I took the plunge and performed my first-ever original, 2.5 minute stand-up comedy routine. It went well. A couple things:

I read a book on stand-up comedy and the author practically guaranteed that many in the audience at my first open-mic night would be drunk. I know we were on BYU campus, but there wasn't even anyone who appeared a little disoriented (except me).

They gave those of us who wanted to join the club a questionnaire. I think my answers were pretty good. I got my name, email address, etc. right. They asked with what artificial object we'd replace our hand if we lost it in a garbage disposal accident. I wasn't sure if this was a serious test, or a test of our funniness, so I put that I'd attach one of those soap-dispensing sponges with handles until I got to the hospital. That was good because if that answer's not funny/clever/resourceful enough, then the reader will probably think that once I get to the hospital, I'll pick something really funny/clever/resourceful (a rubber chicken? a gun? a hook? a U.S. savings bond? a name tag? Al Gore? there is no right answer! (though in real life, hook is a common one)).

They asked us to draw a shape that represented us. I drew a fetus (which I still am in the world of stand-up comedy--not least because I almost turned out to be as wimpy as a fetus after seeing some of the other comics (see next entry)). They asked why we were interested in stand-up and I said to improve circulation and posture, though that might have been the anxiety-induced, self-diagnosed tachycardia talking.

Stay tuned next time for the rest of the story. . .

j. larry. a.

Elementary school voting

I hate to be cynical, but I recall in elementary school having to vote in mock elections so that we could practice being good citizens. You know, I think our voting then was a lot like how we vote nowadays: then, as now, we were ill-informed, we voted predictably based on demographic lines and our votes didn't count for much.