Laugh Your Nads Off Comedy Show Review

This is a review of my experience at Naughty Nads Comedy show hosted by Blair E. Streeter. I had the chance to pick the brain of a professional, meet a great booker, land an appearance on a podcast, and test out the revisions of my A material.

Jump to:
Riding with a Pro | How to Follow THAT? | My Set | Did Revisions Work? | Toughest Question | How to Take Advice | Pro’s Answer My Question | Relishing the Experience | Practice Makes Perfect | Podcast Announcement! | Conclusion

Comedy is making me Crazy

This is what I want to know: is my material funny or not? It might seem like an easy thing to ascertain, really. If people laugh, funny. If people don’t laugh, not funny.

But, keep in mind that my goals are as follows:

  • Getting signed by Absolute Comedy or Yuk Yuk’s
  • Having my own Comedy Special Showcase.
  • Traveling the world doing stand-up comedy

So, whatever I decide to do as material must be appropriate for the target audiences of Yuk Yuk’s, Absolute, and Comedy Now (i.e. no rape and paedophilia).

I tried to answer this question with a blog post, and I made myself go literally bonkers. If you’d like to see the tattered remains of that abandoned post, click here.

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Toronto Stand-up Comedian gets a ride

Tonight I carpooled to Mississauga with Danny Freedman, a comedian with 5 years of experience that has played clubs all across Canada. I really looked forward to the drive over because I wanted to pick his brain on my recent conundrum: how do I know if my material is working when I’m performing rooms that mainly consist of comedians, who typically don’t laugh that much?

I’ll give you his answer later on in the post. First, let’s see how tonight went.


 

How The Hell Am I Supposed to Follow That?

Azfar Ali went on before me, and he killed. There was a tense air in the room before he went up, because the comedian that went before him laid into him a bit. And he goes up and goes on a crazy rant that had everyone HOWLING.

It was amazing to see, because that’s when you see comedic talent, when a comic riffs off a previous performance. Because that’s when writing on the spot comes into play. Just before he walked on stage I saw a page full of notes which I realized was each and every response he crafted on the spot to answer the previous comic’s barbs. And it worked brilliantly!

And so Blair E. Streeter, the host, goes back up, and he’s feeding off Azfar’s energy. (BTW, Blair is an awesome comic and an even friendlier guy. He really treated me well before, during, and after the show and made me feel right at home.) He’s going nuts with raw, angry energy, and he has the crowd howling too. And he says, ‘Oh man, how am I going to bring up this next comic? How long have you been doing this? Two months?” I said it was more like 2-3 weeks. “Oh shit…what have I done? Damn man just come up here.”

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My Set

Good Lord. And I gotta come up with some crazy angry ish to follow that.

I made fun of another comedian that went before me and that got a few laughs. And then I made a joke that came from my experience earlier that day moving:

I learned a lot about myself today. I moved apartments and when I was watching these movers walking back and forth with fridges on their back, angling couches through elevator doors, I thought to myself, “I wonder what’s worse? Being homeless or being a mover? Because I’m pretty sure they get paid the same after taxes, and the homeless don’t have to carry heavy armoires down flights of stairs.”

That got laughs. And then I went into my set.

Tonight was a special night because I made my first big revision to my A-material. That’s not to say I didn’t revise the bit before, but this time I removed a big chunk and reworded the jokes to be one-sentence hitters.


 

Verdict: Revisions worked

I’ve been doing post-mortems after every set, trying to figure out what worked, what didn’t, and apply the scalpel and pen where necessary. I noticed that while I was getting laughs from my Manboobs bit, the American Eagle bit wasn’t. However, I believed the ‘Eagle was funny.

Danny Freedman told me a story about Jerry Seinfeld. He said Seinfeld would write a bit, and then read the bit 1000 times, each time removing a word. Jerry said, ‘Get to the funny as fast as possible.’

And, in hindsight, I reworked the bit along the lines of the Seinfeld bit. This part of the revision really worked for me tonight (I’m talking about the fact that fashion was created for people that are in shape):

Fashion was not created for me. You know what was created for me? XL T shirts were created for me. Down-filled vests were created for me. Fat ass coats were created for me; fat ass is the name of the size on the tag, actually.

Success! So now I know that part of the bit works. I have to keep revising that part, but I’m glad that the premise is funny, and all I have to do is develop some funny jokes.

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This has been driving me crazy

Many of the open mic’s are attended almost entirely by comedians. Comedians, generally speaking, don’t laugh nearly as much as the lay audience. Therefore, how do I know whether a bit is good?

It’s not as easy as just saying, ‘If you can make comics laugh, that means it’ll work everywhere.’ Why? Because my goals are:

  • Getting signed by Absolute Comedy or Yuk Yuk’s
  • Having my own Comedy Special Showcase.
  • Traveling the world doing stand-up comedy

I’m noticing that rape and paedophilia jokes are the norm at a lot of these open mics. That material works in the smaller open mic’s, probably because of the shock value. But a) that’s not my kind of material b) I don’t think I can reach my goals with that kind of material.


 

Taking Advice

Sometimes it’s hard to know when to take advice from other comics, because as a rule I try to take advice from people who are in a position that I want to get to. I don’t wanna come off as a butthole, but it’s hard to tell someone how to get somewhere if you haven’t traveled there yourself.

For example, my last two years of university (I did Business at U of T) I completed part-time. I had a lot of questions for my professors during those years. That said, I was very selective when taking advice from professors on my career in business; if they didn’t have real-world experience away from academia, how could they possibly tell me how to make play politics, execute strategy, or manoeuver among political landscapes and infighting?

So, I asked this question to the successful comics in Toronto.

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Danny Freedman’s Answer

I had previously met Danny at StarvingArtist Bar last Thursday. He had great material, and when I visited his website, I realized that the material had gotten him to a level that I envy: playing all of the major clubs across Canada. His list of gigs included Yuk Yuk’s, Absolute, etc.

I’ve been frustrated as hell going to these open mics because of the mixed reactions I’ve been getting from crowds. Some crowds have responded to my material, and others have not. So who do I trust? How do I know if I have good material?

His answer: Three strikes with different crowds. If material doesn’t work with 3 disparate audiences, then it probably doesn’t work. However, he also said that it’s very difficult to trust open mic audiences because comedians tend not to laugh as much. Finally, he mentioned that he has material that his killed in some places and not worked in others.

The part of his answer: ‘I’m not sure that there is an answer to your question.’

I like that, because it’s usually when we think we’ve figured things out when we’re the most lost.

 

Chris Locke’s Answer

Chris Locke, my favourite Toronto comedian, said, ‘Just work what you think is funny in every room.’

Diana Love’s Answer

Diana Love, a Toronto stand-up comedian who just performed on a Comedy Network Special, gave me this advice that I should keep in mind, even if I never have the answer:

Diana Love Toronto Stand-up Comedian

Advice from Diana Love, Toronto Stand-up Comedian


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Relishing the experience

What I’ve learned is that if a crowd is not responding to your material, given that you have 5-minutes on stage, there’s not much you can do. You’re not going to change your material half-way through. So, you might as well just enjoy yourself. Relish the experience. Have fun! At the end of the day, at least it’s funny to you.


 

Lessons Learned #2: Practice makes Perfect

I’ve realized my material is funny. However, I’ve also realized that it doesn’t always hit.

I think that it is due to – in part – inconsistent delivery. I haven’t consciously decided how I’d like to say the bit. Should I be angry? Should I laugh at myself? Should I just do it the way I feel at the time?

To do that, I will have to film myself doing it in different styles: happy, sad, angry; a mixture of the three. On one hand, I want to be myself. On the other hand, my set involves making fun of myself. Therefore, I need to make sure that I’m coming off as someone to laugh at, not just someone to pity.


 

Appearance on the AdamShow.com

Adam Zed is a comedian that I met last night. He has his own podcast, and I asked him if I could be on it and he said yes!

I’ve always wanted to be on a podcast. I’ve been watching the Joe Rogan podcast almost religiously, and the idea of shooting the ish with like-minded people and getting into friendly humourous arguments.

So I can’t wait! Adam seems like a really cool guy, and I’ve been checking out some of the podcasts.

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Conclusion

Hey, if you’re still reading this after all my rambling, thanks, I guess. I’m really doing this for me more than anyone else. It’s cathartic. Equally as important, it’s helping me make sense of the emotions and fleeting thoughts that would otherwise never become congealed and coherent into ideas and insights.

We don’t need to pretend (but I’m your friend though),

Michael Jagdeo

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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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3 Responses to Laugh Your Nads Off Comedy Show Review

  1. Pingback: Toronto Comedian goes Crazy | Diary of a Toronto Stand-Up Comedian

  2. rickthegreat says:

    Interesting comments.
    I’ve done some surgery to my A set (which you didn’t see, but you have the link to an example) and removed the bit about ants.

    The thing is that the ants gag, which it’s currently semi-retired, I haven’t given up on. It’s CONCEPTUALLY hilarious; I have absolute faith in that fact. I simply am not delivering it right; whether it’s tone, order or wording, or just needs one more killer punchline, I don’t know. But the concept is funny, even if presently the execution is not.

    Similarly, I think your American Eagle bit is very funny. (thanks for making fun of me, by the way.) If you’re not satisfied with how it’s landing, work it on the side; it is conceptually hilarious, and it’s just a matter of finding a way to properly express that concept. You might want to sit with a few comics who will be honest with you and suggest alterations, but really, just sit on it and think about it.

    I had a 20-year veteran tell me he once sifted a joke around for eight years before he got it right.

    Rick

    • Hi Rick,

      It’s funny you mention the workshopping of a joke. I met Alex Pavone the other night and he mentioned that sometimes your mind is at a higher level than your comedic abilities, and thus sometimes a bit doesn’t hit until you have the ability to craft it in such a way that it’s funny for everyone else.

      So true. You often see that when someone is ranting on stage. It’s funny to them. It may well be interesting to the audience, but it may not be funny to them at the same time.

      We’ll continue to explore this space.

      Break a leg at StarvingArtist Thursday! Natasha Henderson is one of the nicest, most helpful comedians on the scene.

      Michael Jagdeo

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