Damn it. I really wanted to kill in my second performance at the Hard Rock Cafe. I didn’t.
Root Cause Analysis using The Five Why’s
The biggest problem in my set was that I included the Somalian bit, which had never hit before.
Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota, is famous for his Five Why’s problem solving technique. Simply put, it involves asking why five times in order to find the root cause – rather than the symptoms – of a problem. Let’s try it:
- Why did I include that Somalian bit if it hadn’t hit before?
- I thought I figured out a way to deliver it right. It’s another case of bad judgment when it comes to doing racist material. That’s been an Achilles heel of mine, but the problem is deeper than that. Why did I include it?
- The reason that I included it is because I didn’t have enough material for five minutes. Why didn’t I have enough new material?
- Because I didn’t take the time to craft the material itself. Why didn’t I spend the time?
- Pride, hubris, take your pick. Procrastination. Sheer laziness. Or maybe it’s because I thought I had gold when I really had Au-plated bronze.
You get the idea. I tried crafting an entirely new seven-minute set by going to just four (4) open mics. What the hell was I thinking?
I went home pissed that night. I called Quinn C. Martin the following day to apologize, but got his voicemail.
He called me back later that evening and I apologized again and he asked me why. I told him I fucked up my set.
To my surprise, he told me that feedback from the crowd after the show was that they liked my set. Quinn wouldn’t lie to me; we’re honest as hell with each other. In fact, he cut me off in mid-lament, saying:
Dog, mans dem [people] are saying they liked you the best [after himself, of course; Quinn DESTROYED]. You’re on some Tiger Woods shit. Tiger Woods won a tournament by 15 holes and agonized over what he did on the sixth hole. You’re feeling exactly how you need to be feeling right now.
That made me feel better, but nothing changes what I know needs to happen.
Here are the lessons that I’ve learned:
- Don’t spend 4 open mics trying out new material before having to go on such a big venue like this.
- Don’t include extraneous words after a joke when it hits reflecting on the joke itself. There’s a difference between recognizing the audience is laughing and riding off that energy versus saying, ‘Oh, you thought that was funny? Cool!’
- Check myself with the racist material.
- If the crowd loves you, you can do no wrong. So save the potentially offensive material for the middle of the show when I’ve developed trust with the audience.
- Keep writing and testing material at open mics. This is going to sound boastful, but I can write. I’m funny. The problem is, I need a killer ACT, not just killer material. Both go hand in hand. I don’t want to fall into the trap of being a funny, talented guy that gets outworked.
- Moreover, keep honing your act at these open mics. The improv off that top is hitting 60-75% of the time now, which is something I’m really happy about.
- I’ve got to go back and start being a student of stand-up comedy again. To that end, I went out to see Morgan Flood’s AltDot Comedy Lounge show at the Rivoli last night. Jeff Leeson MURDERED with 10 minutes of pure crowd work.
- Having something to work towards is a HUGE motivator. I never would’ve worked on my material if I didn’t have a big show like that. My next crucial, must-kill event is the AltDot Coming Soon show on May 7 2012. I’ll be ready for it.
Laughs aren’t Enough
After watching the video a few times, I realized that I did get laughs. But laughs aren’t enough. I’m in it to KILL. Anything less is completely unsatisfactory.
If the scale is:
- Very Good
- Fair or
…there’s no reason I should be happy with Good or Very Good. It’s either Excellent or Not Excellent.
I don’t care that I haven’t done 100 sets yet. I don’t care that people laughed. And it doesn’t even matter that people said they liked my set.
It’s not about them…it’s about me. It’s about me looking myself in the mirror and being able to say, ‘I am a Champion.’