My Experience at Absolute Comedy’s Pro/Am Night

If you’d like to apply for a spot on Absolute Comedy’s Pro/Am Night (held every Wednesday), call 416 486 7700 on the first Tuesday of the month between 10:00am and 10:30am. You’ll have to call about 10-60 times (not a joke) to get through, but stay persistent. You’re competing with about 100 other comedians who are calling in at the same time you are. Ryan Maglunob is the booking agent.

The Approach

It was raining like hell tonight, and it took me awhile to get to Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave. where Absolute Comedy is located (2235 Yonge St.).  I parked in the underground green P where my old U of T Professor used to live and jogged over to the venue as coolly as one can when running in the ran without a jacket, hat, or umbrella.

The ticket was $6.00, I paid in cash this time (I’m learning) and entered the main room.  I noticed that the stage was small (I wonder if I could do my yoga bit there) and I took a seat in the back against the wall.

 

Crushing / Killing / Murdering

Call it what you will, I saw two people absolutely destroy tonight.  I’m an avid listener of the Joe Rogan podcast (http://www.ustream.com/joerogan) and he often talks about guys killing (which means doing very well and getting a lot of laughs, for my international readers) on stage.  I hadn’t seen that until tonight.

The first guy that crushed was a black guy that was very loud and had a great Tracy Morgan impression.  It helped that he also had a top lip like the grill of a PT Cruiser to help make the impression that much more believable.

Tracy-Morgan APA_ovelay

It was a truly amazing experience.  It was like, after a certain point, there was magic in the air.  He could say no wrong.  It got to the point that even when he was setting up the premise for a joke, people would laugh.  HE WASN’T SAYING ANYTHING FUNNY YET AND THEY WERE LAUGHING.  And at one point he said, ‘Damn, I haven’t even said the joke yet!’  It was almost like he didn’t fully recognize what was happening.

And in retrospect, one of the things that I took away from his set was that you have to work the crowd into a fervor in order to kill…or so I thought.

 

Many different ways to slay an audience

Just when I thought that I was figuring things out, a white guy comes up with the EXACT opposite demeanour of the black guy that crushed.  He was slow, plodding, and methodical in his delivery.  He speech was more of a mumble than spoken word, to be honest.  But he killed too

What the heck?  How do you do that??  So it doesn’t mean that you have to work a crowd into a fervour to kill.

 

How to Kill / Crush / Murder

This is the main question that every comic is trying to answer.  But tonight’s experience left me with more questions than answers.  Tonight I saw two stylistically different comics have the exact same effect on an audience.  But I did pick up one thing: both of the comics that killed had a steady stream of laughs

 

One after another

That might seem obvious, but there is a way you can write comedy in a way that doesn’t involve long, laugh-bereft, premise set-ups.  For example, sometimes when I’m writing a bit, performance-wise it might take me 20 seconds before I get to a point where the crowd will laugh.  I’ve realized that 20-seconds without a laugh is a VERY long time comedy-wise, and so I have to rework the bits so that I have laughs throughout, and not just at the end.

That’s one thing that I’ve learned from watching Louis CK.  He gets a constant stream of laughs, and even when he’s building up a premise he is getting a laugh from the crowd.  Easier said than done, but not unpossible (thanks, Ralph).  

But hey, what the fuck do I know; I haven’t even been on stage yet.

 

Can I do this?

In my last blog post, I mentioned the twang of intimidation that I felt when I saw the Yuk Yuk host get a laugh.  I thought to myself, “Can I do this?”  I had that same emotional flinch tonight when I saw the two guys crush.

My years of reading self development literature tells me, “Belief is the Cause.”  That means if I believe I’ll do well, I’ll do well.  If I believe they will laugh, they will laugh.

But is that even the case?  Because I saw a guy tonight yell his ass off, and he seemed like he really believed in his jokes, but they weren’t funny and nobody laughed.  He bombed.  And so I think to myself, self confidence isn’t enough.  The jokes have to be funny…

 

Phew

But I guess that’s a good thing, and I take solace in the fact that my jokes are funny, and I’m spending a lot of time practising.  I will follow the host’s (Kevin Gasior) advice and keep writing and do 100 sets until I find my voice.  This is what I want to do.

Comedy is still a mystery to me, but I guess as long as I can get comfy in the mystery, I will avoid the trap of thinking I know all of the answers when, in fact, I have no fucking clue.

 

Your Homeslice,

Michael Jagdeo
@JagdeoComedy on Twitter

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About Michael Jagdeo

My name's Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third person. I'm a Comedian from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to honing my stand-up comedy act, I maintain this blog and write the weekly comedy article for blogTO.com.
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