Today, I recount my first experience at the AltDot Comedy Lounge produced by Morgan Flood, which takes place every Monday at Rivoli.
Wow, there’s a lineup to get in. Nuts. I’ve never experienced that before at a comedy show, and I’ve been to quite a few recently. There must be something special going on here tonight.
I notice Mark Little, whom I previously saw on stage at Laugh Sabbath a week ago. He looks less like Egon Spengler today. I strike up a conversation grill him with the usual newbie comedian questions. What’s interesting is that he mentioned his Bachelors and Masters in Arts (or theatre, I can’t remember).
Remember that. That part I wrote about his formal education, remember that part, ok? In fact, write it down so you don’t forget. Forget what? His formal education in the arts. (this blog is close captioned for those afflicted with ADD)
There were other acts, but Mark Little ABSOLUTELY DESTROYED tonight, so let’s focus on him. Oh, and because the audience wasn’t mic’d, it doesn’t sound like he killed, but he did.
Mark Little has been involved in sketch comedy for a long time, and he even has a show on the Comedy Network called PicnicFace which is hilarious. He’d be the first to admit that it’s not for everyone, but all creations aimed at a broad audience suck, so kudos to the troupe for carving out a niche.
Remember that part where I mentioned he has formal training in the Arts? I knew I shouldn’t have put the video there. You seriously don’t? Look over there – it’s a red kite.
I’ve given up on the ADD’d.
Mark’s formal training in the arts coupled with his sketch comedy experience is on full display tonight.
Stand-up Comedy Defined
Stand up comedy is the act of being on stage, delivering a combination of image and sound in a way that elicits laughter from an audience. It’s not limited to ‘telling’ jokes. It’s not limited to observational humour (we spell it, ah who cares, nobody in the US is reading this).
It can involve physical comedy, but that term conjures up images of Jim Carey, guys tripping over banana peels, and the 3 Stooges. Physical comedy is a device where the comedian uses body movements to get a laugh. Mark used it masterfully tonight.
Mark’s Brand of Physical Comedy
We’re in the part of Mark’s set where he’s in the process of killing, and he knows it. I’ve seen a few other comics kill, but what separates him from an amateur is that he knows – in the moment – that he’s killing. It’s this realization that leads him to relish it on stage. He can do no wrong. It’s at that point where even his bit premises are getting laughs. Here’s the set in its entirety:
What struck me tonight was his acting. At one point in his set, he started acting out a scenario. Acting out is a harsh way of describing it, because you might think flamboyance and pageantry. Nah, he stood pretty much in the same spot but made subtle movements with his head and arms, and man did it get laughs.
And now that I think back on it, I’m asking myself whether it got laughs because he was killing. Perhaps they were going to laugh at whatever he did. But I don’t think so. What I saw was Mark acting out a scenario and getting 5-7 laughs out of it in the span of 15 seconds. Nuts.
Can I do that?
Act like that? My gut reaction is no, but not because I don’t think I can act. His subtle, minimally moving style of acting takes confidence.
When on stage, you get the impression that you have to act extravagant so that the audience clearly knows what you’re doing. That’s why comics yell and pause: they want everyone to know that there’s a joke involved.
Mark* of a Professional Comic
There is a confidence that they have that…let me put it this way: when they go on stage, it doesn’t feel like they are trying to prove themselves worthy of laughter. They already know they’re funny.
And in comedy, as in life, people don’t so much get what they want; they get what they expect.
What an amazing conclusion, eh? To the blog? Where I said people get what they expect? Man that was awesome. I mean, goddamn.
I’m such a stud,
PS – I’m such a stud, and other salutations, are going to in my new book, ‘Writing Letters.’ What a SICK title for a book, eh? Writing letters? Because that’s what a book is! It’s the product of someone writing letters, which form words, which form sentences, which form paragraphs, and are then partitioned into chapters, which are book-ended (I’m on a roll right now) by a foreword and afterword, which are themselves bound in hardcover glory. $27.95.
*Holy crap, did you just notice that play on words? Mark, as in Mark Little, but also mark as in indication? You should’ve had to exchange a portion of wild meat to read this.