UPDATE: Jump to Audio
I was talking with my buddy Quinn C. Martin about putting together material, and he said something that turned my stand-up comedy paradigm on its head.
You don’t need five/ten/fifteen/sixty minutes of material. You need to learn how to be on stage for that amount of time.
Damn, son. I should also note that he followed that up by saying, ‘You want something to blog about? Blog about that shit.’
Laughter Is More Important Than Material
I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to manicure five minutes of perfect material that will hit everywhere I go. However, I’ve realized that the audience doesn’t care about whether you’re doing material or not. At the end of the day, all they want to do is laugh.
If you make them laugh, they’re not going to leave saying, ‘Wow, what great written material.’ All they’re going to say is, ‘That brown guy [they rarely remember your name] was hilarious.’
How I Applied This Lesson Tonight
I did a good job applying this lesson to tonight’s set.
I was talking about the trials and tribulations of dating at 29, and there was a couple that were clearly enamoured with one another close to the front row (there were about 6 audience members and two comedians in the room). You can hear me interacting with the couple on the clip. It takes the first 30 seconds to set things up, and I go in thereafter…:)
Full set if you’re interested (I’m whispering in the beginning to describe the lovebirds)
How I Prepared Myself To Achieve That Laughter
Changing The Way I Rehearse
I practised my new set 5-7 times today, making sure that I had my key points down. One of the things I’ve stopped doing is memorizing my material word for word. I’ve decided to give myself some breathing room script-wise which I think will help me achieve my goal of being myself and becoming more genuine on stage.
Changing My Focus To Laughter Rather Than Material
I’ve changed my focus when going on stage. Yes, I’m still preparing material for my two new booked gigs at the Hard Rock, upcoming sets at Yuk Yuk’s, etc. However, my focus is now to get laughter, moreso than doing my prepared material. If I get on stage, and there’s something in the room to make fun of, the material can wait.
Surveying The Room
Quinn also told me about taking in the room before going on stage. Who are the people laughing in the room? Who isn’t laughing? Are there people doing something interesting? How are they reacting to risque/racist/sexual material? In this way, he said that you need WAY MORE than five minutes of material to be able to kill everytime you’re on stage. You need to be able to channel the right jokes for the audience that is in front of you. Profound tings right there, homies. In this case, I noticed the couple interacting romantically well before I got on stage, and decided that I would interact with them.
Recognition Of My Ability To Interact With Crowds
I like talking to crowds. And more often than not, it results in laughter. So, I’m trying to remind myself to leave myself vulnerable to their reactions and spontaneous outbursts.
Making Sense of It All
Comedians make people laugh. If they use material, so be it. If they don’t, but still make people laugh, then the people will have gotten what they wanted.
I’m not saying that there’s not beauty in doing prepared material, but there’s much more to comedy than plowing through rehearsed set pieces. There’s a whole world of material right in front of you when you get on stage, you just have to have your eyes open.
Tat tvam asi,