As I get more experience doing my A material, I’m noticing what hits (gets laughs consistently) and what doesn’t. Off with what sucks!
Jump to: Hesitation to Cut | Blow to the Ego | Lessons from Alex Pavone and Jesse Owens | Applying these Lessons | The New Five-Minute Set | Norm MacDonald is a BEAST
No Nurse, the big one. Danny Freedman recollection of Jerry Seinfeld’s advice on comedy really woke me up yesterday:
1) Read a joke 1000 times, cutting down one word each time.
2) Get to the funny as soon as possible. Get to the funny, get to the funny, get to the funny.
I realized that most, if not all, of my gigs are going to be five minutes. I’ve realized that I’ve been creating comedy designed for a one-hour special, and not for the five minutes that I have. By that I mean I was saving jokes. I was building on premises to make a story complete rather than hitting the audience with everything I had.
Not anymore, said I. I’m gonna dropkick these mofo’s into the stratosphere.
Hesitation to cut
So, I reviewed all of my post-mortem notes from my sets, and identified:
- Keep – this is getting laughs consistently
- DiscardorRevise – this is getting laughs inconsistently OR I think this is funny but it’s not hitting and so I need to revise it or put it on the backburner.
- Discard – this is not getting laughs; discard
And this is what my bit looked like after an honest, difficult review. You’ll have to click on the image and zoom in.
Blow to the ego
When I finished my review, I realized that I only had about three minutes! Was I really that bad? Three minutes?? That sucks dude.
Lessons in Comedy from Alex Pavone and Jesse Owens
I did a horrible set at Pourboy on Sunday. Luckily, Alex Pavone and Jesse Owens were outside. Alex Pavone is a top stand-up comedian in Canada, playing shows all over the place. Jesse Owens just moved to Toronto recently and gets laughs in every room that I’ve seen him in, which is saying a lot.
I lamented to them that I bombed, and they said, ‘Dude, good for you for sticking it out.’ They looked at me like a little kid when I told them it was my fourth or fifth set. ‘Talk to me when you’ve done 200.’
Then we got into this interesting discussion about comedy and what’s funny and what’s not. The most interesting thing that Alex said was, ‘Sometimes your level of thinking is at a 10 but your comedic ability [your ability to explain your thoughts] isn’t at a 5, and so while it’s a good idea you don’t have the skills yet to make people laugh with it.’ Jesse Owens, ‘I’m just now doing jokes that I wrote when I first started two years ago.’
Applying These Lessons Learned
So it’s not that my cuts are permanent. It’s not that the material doesn’t have the potential to be funny. Perhaps I’m just not at the level to execute them in a way that elicits laughter, and I’m ok with that.
For example, in business, sometimes you have an idea that would be amazing. However, you might not have the political savvy or adequate level of influence on the organization to implement the idea. That doesn’t make the idea bad. You just have to improve in the areas that need improving. Just as important, you need to recognize that it’s not the idea that is lacking but your ability to execute the idea and focus on those areas. In other words, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
*I should mention that ‘uff’ is the way that the f-word sounds when it’s edited on rap tracks from the 1990’s.
Introducing the new Halarious Five-minute set
I know it’s spelled hilarious, but it’s more fun to say, ‘Halarious!’ Imagine a Victorian socialite at a ball exclaiming, ‘That was absolutely Halarious, darling. Divine.’ And by the way, when a socialite exclaims, you don’t use an exclamation mark. They don’t say it loud enough to warrant a !, but they are enthusiastic. I hope someone gets what I mean here.
And so this is the new revised bit. It still needs tightening up, and practise, and rewording, but here’s what I’m going to go with. The first two bits are the same, but I’ve added three ‘quick hit’ type of jokes to end with a bang.
Please keep it going for the host!
- There are challenges, though, with being overweight…these are two of them right here…
- what the hell are these?! I didn’t plan on this.
- They didn’t teach about this in lack if sex education
- I used to have pecs before. Pecs consist of two nipples in the middle and square lines like this (body motions)
- I don’t have that anymore. Now, I have sagging fleshy teardrops just crying down the front of body. Those aren’t pecs anymore.
- I guess I’m angry because there’s no support group for guys with this affliction. If you’re an Alcoholic, where do you go? AA. But if you’re a Manboobed Associate, an MBA, there’s no way for you to go. There’s no Man boobed anonymous where you can go and say, Hello My name is Michael Jagdeo and well, you know. There’s nowhere where they’ll cry with you and give you a hug; gotta hug like this…
Wearing the American Eagle Shirt Anyway
- So Now my challenge is this: to mold this excessive amount of playdough into something that looks marginally physically attractive. Look, at this point, I’m realistic, I’m just going to shoot for marginal physical attractiveness.
- And what does my mind come up with? ‘Hey mike, why don’t you follow fashion?’ (pause) Did i mention my mind’s a uff’ing idiot?! Fashion wasn’t created for me. You know what was created for me? Black XL t-shirts were created for me. Parkas were created for me. Down-filled winter vests were created for me.
- One time I thought I could rock the American Eagle Golf shirt. Pff, Big Mistake. That wasn’t created for me either. I didn’t know that.
- I walked into the store, found the rack that had the shirt, and go to the back of the rack because that’s where they put the plus sizes for men.
- I walk into the changeroom, and I’m not trying this shirt on; I’m peeling the shirt on.
- This shirt fits me the same way my little sister’s socks fit me.
- And the cotton fibres are pressed up against my body like this.
- And I can hear the cotton fibres screaming (scream).This is how cotton sounds when I put it on.
- And I’m looking for something to blame it on.My doctor told me the other day that I have an underactive thyroid gland and that’s causing me to gain weight. And I lie, I’m like, ‘Yeah doctor that’s probably it!’ And in the back of my mind i’m thinking ‘Hey mike, why don’t you tell her about the peking duck and cantonese chow mein you’re having for lunch everyday, maybe those are significant variables causing you to balloon into a parabolic function.
- And how come everyone wants to have a high school reunion now? I ain’t going to no reunion looking like this.
- Dude I see people that are still thin from high school and I just keep walking, man.
- If I go down, I want people to remember me like the Facebook profile picture I took two years ago when the lighting was just right. There’s a reason why I haven’t updated it.
But it could be worse
- The other day I was in a chinese restaurant, surprise surprise (sarcastic)
- The other day I saw this lady waddle in like an oompa loompa with a pickle up its ass.
- Ever see someone so fat that when they go into the restaurant they already look full and exhausted?
- She sits down and her legs splay out like a whale’s tail
- And I kid you not, she goes, ‘I’ll have a pork fried rice, NO VEGETABLES.”
- Dude, I got some work to do, but I ain’t there yet.
Norm MacDonald is a Beast
Dude, Norm MacDonald is in my top five favourite comedians. Look at how laid back he is. How comfortable he is. I should mention that it almost looks like he’s doing an impression of Christopher Walken as he gets into the story.