How Do I Get Out Of A Rut?

Hey friends,

I’m doing my ALTdot Comedy Lounge showcase on Monday after the main show which starts at 9pm at the Rivoli (332 Queen W). I haven’t been going to open mics to prepare. Why?

I’ve been taking some time to nourish the soul. Jim Rohn said,

Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.

In addition, I’ve been kind of in a rut lately. When the opportunity to do:

  • The Brown Effect, a four-episode pilot for ATN
  • Two shows at the Hard Rock Cafe
  • More Than Robots, a pilot for CBC Radio

I lost sight of my goals.

How I Got In A Rut

Now you might say, ‘Uh…what are you talking about? The reason you’re doing comedy is to get on TV, radio, and on the biggest stages in your city!’ And you’d be right.

That said, it’s important to know what you’re doing everyday before the day starts…at least for a neurotic it is. Otherwise, I can spend an entire day deciding what to do. An old boss of mine told me that I had the tendency to, ‘…strategize about strategizing about strategy.’ You’re right (and fuck you for being right – Mike’s Ego exhibiting the Threat-Rigidity Response)

Peaks and Valleys

As I said, I’ve noticed that I’ve been in kind of a rut lately, having ideas come to me but not wanting to flesh them out.

Spencer Johnson wrote a great book called Peaks and Valleys. He said life was full of highs and lows. The interesting thing about this cycle is that peaks are connected to valleys, valleys connected to peaks. What we do in the good times eventually lead to the bad times, and what we do in the bad times eventually lead to the good times.

Luckily, over the past year, I’ve been keeping track of what gets me out of ruts.

Getting Out Of A Rut: Know Thyself

This is how I got out of the low and am climbing back into a better place:

  • Working Out – today I did the chest, back, and shoulders exercise (P90x) at the gym.
  • Reading – I recently started/finished Ram Dass’ Be Here Now. I was pointed in that direction by Duncan Trussell, a comedian that is a frequent guest on the Joe Rogan podcast. Ram Dass’ story is amazing: he was a young, accomplished psychology academic working on projects at the four major universities in the US (Yale, Harvard, etc.) and gave it all up because he realized the limitations of his cognitive behavioural theraphy (CBT).
  • Music– I discovered some great reggae and dance music recently.
  • Meditation – I meditated for about an hour today, which was amazing. I sat down, turned my body to face the sun, and a stream of ideas and insights and even new bits to flesh out came rushing in, one after another. A few other things I realized during my meditation:
    • It’s often my delivery that faulters, rather than the material itself.
    • My buddy Quinn C. Martin, a comedian with 10 years of experience, continuously slays crowds. He said that I needed to focus on being funny rather than focusing on reciting my material. For example, it might cause me to lose sight of opportunities to do crowd work (i.e. noticing a crowd member’s reaction, etc.). I also talked to him about the importance of committing to a joke during the delivery.
    • I add in extra words when I don’t get an immediate laugh to a punchline.
    • I need to identify the home run punchlines (big laughs) and the base hit punchlines (small-medium laughs) and organize the bit accordingly (i.e. make sure to end off on the home run punchline, etc.).

So I’m back! Tonight I’ll be doing an open mic at Spillin the Beans on Dundas West at 7pm. I’m going to focus on having fun, being in the moment, and letting the material naturally inform how I act on stage. I don’t want to, ‘have an act’ when I’m on stage. I want to just…be.

Jiggy Jag aka Jaggy-D aka Holla atchuh Boy aka You Know What It Is Michael Jagdeo Michael Jagdeo Michael Jagdeo 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.
This entry was posted in Open Mic Experiences, The Art & Science of Comedy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to How Do I Get Out Of A Rut?

  1. Mike Hawk says:

    I don’t want to sound like an ass, but you really have no idea what you’re doing. I’ve seen your videos and you get like 3 laughs over 5 minutes. You should be getting 3 laughs every 1 minute. Plus you’re trying to be an angry comic like you think you’re black like Chris Rock or Kat Williams. You don’t have the look or appeal to be that style of comic. Financially, if you’re spending money to do all these open mics and such, it’s really not worth it.

    • Hey Mike!

      First of all, thanks for your candor. You’re right: one should be getting 3 laughs every 1 minute. But I’ll have to disagree that I’m only getting 3 laughs every five minutes.

      I think one of the things that makes it seem like I’m not getting laughs is because I position my iPhone from the crowd (often at the side or way at the back of the room). I’ll upload a video from the camera that was situated in the middle of the crowd from last my hard rock performance as soon as I get it so you can see the difference. But you bring up a great point: If I’m going to keep uploading videos, I should make sure that the crowd is mic’d properly. Thanks for pointing that out!

      With regards to trying to be like Chris Rock and Kat Williams, I’ll also have to beg to differ. I’ve never watched more than 2 minutes of Kat Williams but love Chris Rock. I love his style of presenting arguments. That said, when I get angry it’s because I’m genuinely angry, i.e.

      Now, I understand why you might think I’m trying to be like Chris Rock. He gets angry, and so do I…but that doesn’t mean we’re doing the same act. Using the same notes on a keyboard doesn’t mean two musicians are playing the same song. With regards to my look or my appeal, I haven’t spent enough time seeing how the crowd sees me, so I really appreciate you bringing that up. However, if the bit is expressing anger, I’m going to express anger.

      The major thing for me is to be myself on stage, not play myself. If people think I’m trying to be like other people, I guess that’s a criticism I’ll have to live with!

      Finally, I’m not spending money on open mics, but kind of resent the idea that even if I was that it wouldn’t be money well spent. Understand that you’re watching someone learn a skill. If you saw Michael Jordan play high school basketball, you might have told him he couldn’t make the team, just like his coach did.

      All that said, I sincerely do appreciate the candid comment. It’s important for me to understand how I’m being perceived and how my videos are making me appear.

      Thanks, Hawk!

      Jagdeo

  2. ME says:

    I can see what Mike Hawk is saying about your audience’s laughs. There are a few videos where you are talking for almost 2 minutes and it’s a dead silence from the crowd. The positioning of the camera does not matter so much, I know this from experience. Also your ‘anger’ does not seem genuine.

    • Hey Me!

      How are things? I often put up videos where I’m not doing well, bombing, or doing material that’s only relevant to the immediate crowd in the room. Which videos are you referring to, specifically?

      About my anger not seeming genuine, I can understand that. I’m still battling between the emotion needed to deliver a bit and how I’m actually feeling in the moment sometimes.

      With regards to the positioning of the camera…I’ll upload a video as soon as I get it so you can compare the two.

      Keep watching this space! I really appreciate the time you’re taking to form an opinion, rather than dismissing my comedy outright.

      JagdeoComedy on Twitter

  3. I always look forward to reading your blog posts and I even subscribed to your RSS through my smart phone so I can read all your past articles at any time.

    You bring up a great point about watching a person learning a skill. Its very easy to judge and criticize one’s performance early in his career. A very good example is to just watch a very early video of Dave Chappelle or Louis CK stand up and see how much the act has changed after years and years of stage time.

    Im sure you will get their bro. When I talk to my fellow stand up comedians, who are also starting out, I always tell them the same thing: “we are where we are right now and we aren’t as good. But I cannot wait a couple years down the road, when we get our performance, crowd work and material just perfect and we are killing. Its going to be awesome. And all the nights that we bombed are going to so very worth it”

    Keep writing and posting bro. Peace!

    • Comos Taca!

      Yeah…I don’t think there are any videos of Jerry Seinfeld before he got on Johnny Carson…and who knows how long it took him to get on Carson in the first place. You nailed it when you said that the bombing will be worth it.

      I think that the most important thing is to have an open ear to the critics, because they’re right…some of the times. I always keep this quote in the forefront of my mind when I meet criticism:

      When you bump your knee against a chair, the pain you feel is because of what’s occurring in your knee, not what’s happening in the chair. – Dr. Robert Anthony

      It’s very important to me that I don’t exhibit the Threat-Rigidity Response in the face of rotten tomatoes, because I realize that there is a difference between:

      • What I’m trying to portray on stage VS.
      • What I actually portray on stage

      And heck…when I started this blog, I knew what I was getting into. I knew that there would be criticism involved, and that’s actually part of the reason that I created it in the first place. This blog has turned into a way that I can crowdsource my act, where admirers and critics alike are able to point out things that get caught in my blind spot.

      I also recognize that the criticism I receive are all about videos that I’ve done in the PAST, rather than what I’m GOING TO DO. And we should never let our past, or critics, make us stop doing what we love to do.

      Thanks as always for your support across the ponds! How’s your act coming along? Any videos!?

      Jagdeo

  4. Also, I know Mike Hawk did not mean to, but in the end, he sounded like an ass

  5. Wayne says:

    I’m sorry, but I watched a bunch of your videos with 2 of my friends and we are huge stand up fans, but we couldn’t laugh at any of your material. You ramble way too much and stuff you write is a put off cause you seem very arrogant, but not in a funny way. It seems as if people mostly laughing at your awkward talking, rather than the actualy words coming from your mouth. This is what I see as a professional comic.

    • Hey Wayne!

      I appreciate the feedback, especially the arrogant part. Upon reflection, I can see why you might think that.

      Which videos did you watch specifically? That would really help. I often put up videos showing me bombing.

      In the end, you may be right…it’s too early to tell. I’m going to be doing a set at Yuk Yuk’s, the most popular club in Toronto, soon. If I get genuine laughs there, I’ll know where I’m at.

      Keep watching this space! I’m not saying I’m a stand-up comedy God…only someone who is going to make it work.

      JagdeoComedy

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