Corktown Comedy Open Mic Review

This is a review of my first visit to Brian Coughlin’s Corktown Comedy Open Mic show. I had a great time, tried out some new material, and most importantly, got some sage advice from Brian himself.

Jump to: Brian Coughlin Career Model | Graham Kay KILLS | My Set | Lesson Learned (LL) from Brian Coughlin: First Things First | LL from Kristian Reimer: Enjoy Yourself | LL from Danny Freedman: Chunking | LL: Relax | VOTE: Jamaican Too Many Kids bit

The Approach

I love art. I recently moved and I can’t wait to put up my Godfather posters. There are kitschy posters adorning every square inch of the place, including some replica ones reminiscing about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination which I found cool.

Godfather posters

Godfather posters

Abraham Lincoln Assassination Poster

Abraham Lincoln Assassination Poster

Horses wanted for War Poster

Horses wanted for War Poster

And there are some HEAVY hitters here tonight, real pro comics. Graham Kay is here! He killed tonight, and I’ll have more on him later. One guy is talking about how he brought Mick Foley to town. Zabrina Chevannes and Azfar Ali are also in attendance, and not only do they do well everytime they’re on stage, they’re super nice and always take the time to give me pointers.

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Brian Coughlin Career Model

I was able to have a great chat with Brian Coughlin before the show. He told me he read the blog…cool! He’s been living off of comedy for 7 years now, and that struck me because he’s essentially a mature version of where I am right now. I’ll explain.

If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that I’m trying to figure out how to use a combination of media (blogging, monetized youtube videos, stand-up comedy, sketch-writing, etc.) to succeed as a comedian. He has a production company called Corktown Productions that, ‘offers a wide range of services from corporate shows and fundraisers to talent management and new-media content development.’ I wanna do that, too.

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Graham Kay KILLS

Fuz man, I’ve been trying to learn this guy’s name ever since my second visit to a Toronto open mic. Graham Kay is the truth. He’s mastered the aspect of comedy that I hope to wield one day: delivery. Chris Locke has the same effect on me: I can’t help but laugh at everything this guy does. He killed tonight. Take a look and see if he doesn’t have the same effect on you.

And its the type of funny that you just have to marvel at, because he’s getting so many laughs by saying so very little word-volume wise. Why the hell is this guy not famous?

And like I suspected from the first time I saw him, a bit of research revealed that he’s shared the stage with the likes of Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, and well, you don’t really need to complete the comma list triumvirate with names like that, do you?

I remember chatting with Graham outside of Pourboy where I bombed a few weeks back, and he’s been doing it for five years. So there’s hope for me yet, now 47 days into this career. But there’s a part of me that laments, ‘Fuz man, will I ever get there?’ It’s part envy, part awe, part hope.


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My Set

Corktown Comedy stage

Corktown Comedy stage

Tonight didn’t go that well for me. I wrote a new bit about Jamaican Barbers that didn’t really go like I expected (scroll to the bottom to see it). After condensing my five-minute killer set into essentially 2 minutes, I have to start mining myself for new material. But that’s ok.

Although I still think my original five-minute set is great, in the back of my mind I didn’t really expect my first iteration to be a roaring success. I haven’t been myself yet on stage. I’m playing myself on stage, if that makes any sense. I want to BE myself on stage.

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Lesson Learned #1 from Brian Coughlin: First Things First

Because I’m focused in many different directions (blogging, youtube videos, stand-up comedy), it helps to get a wake-up call every now and then. I want to be a great stand-up comedian. Brian Coughlin reminded me that, ‘Your number one priority is to develop a killer five-minute set and get on stage as much as possible. The better the five-minute set, the more and better quality stages you’ll get on.’ Thanks, Brian, for the helpful eyeball poke. I’m refocused.


Lessons Learned #2 from watching Kristian Reimer: Just Enjoy Yourself

Kristian Reimer is a friggin’ powerhouse on stage. Most of his stuff did well tonight. Being a host, and getting that much stage time, one or two bits of the material didn’t work, which is expected given that the show ran over two hours. But what I learned from him tonight is that, no matter what, he enjoyed himself. He genuinely had fun. Even when a bit wasn’t working, he didn’t care. He was having a blast. And because he was having fun – in some scenarios – it helped the bit get traction with the audience and we started laughing with him. It reminds me the advice that Diana Love echoed from Joan Rivers, ‘Enjoy the Journey.’

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Lesson Learned #3 from Danny Freedman: Smaller Chunks

I think I’ll follow the model that Danny Freedman mentioned in passing to me. He has 5 one-minute bits that he does. I think if I craft something like that even if a joke misses I’ll have more ammunition in the second minute, instead of having to ride out a 3-minute bit that’s not working.

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Lesson Learned #4: Relax

On stage I choked tonight. I wasn’t comfortable. It’s not the venue’s fault, it’s mine. I haven’t been practising nearly as much as I should have. The recent move to a new place has cut into a lot of my time, but that’s no excuse. I’ve also stopped writing 30 things to get a laugh like I used to do when I started out. I have to go back to that stage: the Creative Stage.

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The Jamaican Too Many Kids bit

Even though tonight didn’t go the way I wanted it to, the lessons learned tonight were well worth it. Oh, and if you care to hear it, here is the Jamaican Barber joke that didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I apologize that you can’t see anything, either.

I still think it’s funny though! What do you think?

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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
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3 Responses to Corktown Comedy Open Mic Review

  1. Mandible Craig says:

    Ok, so the premise of your joke is that Jamaican barbers shouldn’t have kids because they don’t make enough money? I agree man. Fuck them. Jamaican hair-cutters is a shitty culture that needs to be chopped down and you my friend wield the axe. “You need to start fucking within your means, homie!” ahahahahahaha comedy gold!!! Keep up the good work.

  2. Pingback: Toronto Comedian Gets Deeper Into Podcasting | Diary of a Toronto Stand-Up Comedian

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