This is a recount of my experience at Eric Bud’s Imperial Comedy Show held at Imperial Pub located at 54 Dundas Street East, Toronto, ON. A lot of people tell me I’m crazy for going on stage, and that they’d be way to nervous to even get close. So I thought it might be cool to take a video from my perspective. Today I’m going to take you on stage with me…
Toronto Comedian has time to write
I moved recently, and that means this Toronto Comedian hasn’t had much time to work on my A material, be it revisions or practice. Today was different.
I did the Adam Zed podcast from 4:00-5:30pm, and so I had plenty of time to roam the streets and work on my stuff. In fact, I walked around for about one and a half hours saying my material out loud by pretending I was talking on the phone.
I’m sure a few people thought I was nuts, but I’m following a dream. I’m doing what I like doing. If that makes me bad, I don’t wanna be good.
That’s right, I used those lyrics. How do I feel about it? Kinda dirty, kinda cheap, but I’m smiling wryly because I know you are too. Smile. Didja smile? It’s hard not to smile when you read the word smile.
Get on with it, Mike.
HIT THE DECK!
Nervously Pacing Dundas Square
As I’m practising my bit, I realize that I’d rather focus on the American Eagle and Mr. Clean jokes that I have. But that means I have to come up with a new introduction. And the introduction has to be strong. The way you start your set is the way you make your first impression on the audience. You have to start that laugh train as early as possible.
I have 10 minutes to showtime, and my instinct tells me to stop messing around and just do the old set the same way. But then I think wait, an idea doesn’t need to take 2 hours to appear. I’m a smart dude. I’ve helped write jokes for other comedians. Just stick with it. An idea only needs a second to sprout.
And it did. New introduction!
As it turns out, the back room of the Imperial Pub was packed with a full audience. There were some kids from Ireland in the front row. Eric Bud, the host, is a professional stand-up comedian and was very comfortable on stage. I envy that comfort.
It’s always an interesting feeling when you first realize, ‘Holy Moly, I’m going to go on stage soon.’ It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain. It’s a combination of anxiety, intimidation, restlessness, with a helping of self-doubt that goes something like, ‘That bit sounded funny at home, but it isn’t funny. Shit.’ Take a look at the picture of the stage and mic (what a lonely place to be, eh?) on full screen and see if you feel it, too.
Come with me on Stage – Preamble
As I mentioned at the top, I wanted to film my performance on stage in such a way that you could experience what it’s like to be me.
But first, If you’ve been following the blog (all five of you, holla atchuh boy! shout out to Ray Ray and dem!), you’ll know that I think improvisation is the hallmark of a strong comic. Whether I’m performing on stage or not, I try to think up jokes that tie in to each comedian’s set. I’ve found that the audience really appreciates it when there is genuine spur of the moment creativity on stage. That practice paid off tonight.
The previous comic made jokes about:
- When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
- Masturbation – specifically, he used the term ‘F’ing Myself’ to describe the private act.
So the beginning of my set starts with me improvising/riffing off of his jokes.
Come with me on Stage
Eric Bud calls my name.
And my mind goes blank.
But I have reminded myself to take my time. Relish the experience. Get comfy. I slowly remove the mic from the stand…
Lesson Learned: Writing Funny Prose vs. Writing Stand-up Comedy
I love language and history, but either my audiences don’t or my comedic abilities aren’t at the level where I can make it funny for them like it’s funny for me. Perhaps the references are too obscure. Perhaps my timing is off. After watching the video a few times, I think that’s part of it.
Or perhaps I have to make a distinction between writing funny for reading and writing funny for stand-up. Maybe that’s it.
For example, I had a lot of fun coming up with my introduction about the metabolism gods not accepting my burnt offerings of sweet and sour pork. It’s an awesome introduction. But it doesn’t get a laugh. It might get a smile, but it doesn’t get a laugh. And if people are going to see me do stand-up, they want to laugh, not smile and think, ‘Well that was an interesting allusion.’
I hope you liked seeing what it’s like to be on stage. There were some dreadfully quiet moments on stage, but my ‘American Eagle shirt looking like a cotton snake swallowing a goat’ joke really saved the day! And I literally came up with that 20 minutes before showtime as I made laps around Dundas Square.
Genius doesn’t need time, it needs you to shut the hell up and listen to the Universal Creative Mind (Dr. Roberty Anthony).
I’ll leave you with one of my heroes, Jerry Seinfeld. I read his book Sein Language when I was in grade seven and it was accessible even to me. Notice how he slows down his speech as he relishes each punchline: