Crowd Work To The Rescue

I’m working on a new bit involving dating at 29. The routine’s first main laugh involves complaining that women want to go on too many expensive activities, one after another, in the span of 3-5 hours.

This joke worked twice before, but it didn’t hit tonight. Luckily, I was able to notice the crowd’s reaction and play off of it. Let me know what you think:

As I’ve said before, I like interacting with the crowd. Since this topic (dating at 29) is so contentious among women, I’ve made a conscious effort to be extra-sensitive to their reaction and jump at every chance I get to get them involved. In this way, it’s possible for me to make my point (say what I want to say) and have laughter, even if it doesn’t explicitly come from the written material.

New Goal: Having a Good Set 8/10 Times

Again, my goal has shifted drastically. Instead of trying to get my material to hit 8/10 times, I now want to have a good set (make the crowd laugh consistently) 8/10 times. That shift in thinking is driving me to focus on laughter, rather than just material, and I’m finding it’s paying off more and more.


Michael Jagdeo


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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35 Responses to Crowd Work To The Rescue

  1. First! Damn, I am getting good at this

  2. I think the crowd work looked good. Although you didn’t get the response you wanted from the joke, you did make the audience laugh, which is just as important.

    I do have to say that relying solely on crowd work could be detrimental to your ability to deliver jokes as you may get addicted to just riffing with the audience and not really have any material to work on.

    All things being considered, it looks like you really had fun on stage. You seem to be getting more comfortable. Much props brotha!

    • Comos Taca Mr. Saddi!

      There are two sides, both very valid. There’s a guy in Toronto by the name of Jeff Leeson who ABSOLUTELY DESTROYS with his crowd work.

      I saw him do 10 minutes of 100% crowd work just the other night, and nobody came even close to his set. He got like seven applause breaks!

      But man, what a precarious position to be in…unless, of course, you know exactly what you’re doing up there and have years and years of experience doing it. But therein lies the catch 22…you can’t get good until you put years and years in.

      At the end of the day, I LOVE the crowd work and the reactions I get from it. It’s one of those times where I truly lose myself in the moment on stage. And hey, if this is about following our dreams/passions, why do anything else, right?

      But man, there’s also nothing like beautiful material. Look at how complex John Pinette’s two minutes are:

      GENIUS. Ahhh I don’t have any answers…only questions mixed with wonder…

      Oh wait, maybe as I hone my writer to fit WHO I AM, the crowd work can help me have good sets regardless of whether the material hits or not, like in the video above. Again, the goal is, as you pointed out, to get laughs. And if I can get laughs 8/10 times, that’ll pave the way for me to KILL 8/10 times on stage, which is the ultimate goal.

      Confused but eager,

      JagdeoComedy on Twitter

  3. Tony Danza says:

    Your crowd work is really bad, but so are your jokes. So it’s not a surprise. Sorry

    • Hey Tony!

      I’m sorry you feel that way. What do you think is bad about it? I’m always looking to improve.

      In addition, I’m confused…what’s not a surprise?

      JagdeoComedy on Twitter

      • Tony Danza says:

        Your make jokes that have punchlines that Nobody has every thought once and it makes it not funny. It’s just like listening to someone complaing about something, without saying anything funny.

        It’s not a surprise that your crowd work is really bad due in part to your jokes being bad.

        I think you should make some jokes about yourself being gay. Every gay comedian always makes jokes about them being gay and it’s funnier when it’s obvious they are gay. So maybe you should work on something like that.

        • Hey Tony,

          You may have a point there. The fact that the punchline I used doesn’t have a element of surprise in it makes it a non-traditional joke. However, that’s not to say that stating a truth can’t be funny. It may be the case that I haven’t figured out a way to make it funny…yet.

          However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying. I’m convinced that there’s more to comedy than just setting up tension-building premises and resolving those tensions by moving the audience in a direction they didn’t think I was going in.

          Your comment on the crowd work is false. The crowd laughed, Tony.

          It also would appear that you believe I’m homosexual. Why do you think that? Or are you trying to make a joke?

          Either way, please keep commenting. These kinds of back and forth comment exchanges are AMAZINGLY EFFECTIVE from a Search Engine Optimization perspective.



  4. Gustavo Chacin says:

    How are you able to get to do so many open mic/amateur night shows in such a short time. I know most people only do like once a month.

    • Hey Gustavo,

      Oh man, in Toronto, on any given night there are 3-9 stages going on where you could get on stage, many of them without even booking a spot beforehand! It’s not uncommon for people to do 2-4 shows in one evening!

      Just take a look at this listing:

      Crazy, eh?

      Jagdecomedy on Twitter

      • Gustavo Chacin says:

        So where do you like to go for each day of the week?

        • Hey Gustavo,

          Great question!

          Wednesdays I usually go out to Brampton for Neil Griffin’s Open Mic at the Pickled Onion.

          On Thursdays I find myself at JP’s Groove Bar Open Mic on the Danforth.

          On Saturday I go to Rene Payes’ Spillin the Beans Comedy Show at Full of Beans Roastery.

          Another good room is Natasha Henderson’s Starving Artist Open Mic.

          Those are the regular ones I go to. I find that they consistently have an audience and/or are frequented by friendly comedians.

          How long have you been doing comedy?


          • Gustavo Chacin says:

            I’ve been doing it for about 2 months now, but it’s hard getting a spot. Did it at Yuk Yuk’s the first time, but now I can’t get booked everytime I call them.

            So you don’t go to Yuk Yuk’s or Absolute? How about Imperial comedy, how good is that, lots of people, 100s?

  5. Steven Segal says:

    How was your set at Rivoli? Did you happen to record it?

    • Hey there,

      I wish I had a chance to record it. Because of the bigger venue, there wasn’t anywhere I felt comfortable leaving my iPhone.

      That said, I BOMBED MY ASS OFF. It was not a great showing at all. The comedian before me does humour that’s a bit darker, and I didn’t have a good transition into my set. Funny enough, that’s one of the sets that lead me to decide to be myself more on stage.

      I found that I was writing jokes to be funny, but not necessarily to be funny coming out of my mouth, if that makes any sense. So in that regard, it was a useful bomb. However, I wish it didn’t happen at a big venue like the Rivoli, but you live and you learn and get your ass kicked along the way but the good thing is this: even the worst of days are still only 24 hours long.

      Thanks for asking! Are you a comedian as well?

      Jagdeocomedy on twitter

      • Steven Segal says:

        Yes, I am. So I’ve heard alt dot has different comedy. It’s not the traditional story jokes. so you said the guy before you was darker? How dark, like give me an example of a joke and was he an amateur too?

        • Oh man…like really dark.

          Like, ‘The thing about raping babies is this…’

          He was semi-pro, I believe. I’m not knocking the guy; he got laughs. It’s just I didn’t know the best way to transition into the set. Heck, it could have been that my material just won’t work for that crowd. You never know!

          But man it was hard. You could write a few chapters on the art/science of following other comedians, i.e. comedians that bomb, comedians that absolutely crush, comedians that do dirty material, etc.

          For example, it’s a well-known fact that many people are afraid to follow Dave Merheje, because he consistently DESTROYS audiences with his ranting. It’s tough to get them into a premise-punchline-tag type of vibe after that.


  6. James Worthy says:

    Where are you performing this week? tonight?

    • Hey James,

      Nah, not tonight. Talk a class in finance this weekend which always kills my Monday. But a full skid of stages await!

      Tues – Can you make em laugh and/or Yuk’s if I can get on
      Wed – pickled onion in brampton
      Thurs – groove bar or Darren Pyle’s room in Oshawa (still have to talk to him)
      Sat – full of beans roastery (rene payes room)

      What about you?

      Jagdeocomedy on twitter

      • James Worthy says:

        I’m thinking of going for a lottery spot at Comedy Bar. Have you ever been there?

        So you will go out of Toronto, and go to Mississauga, Brampton and Oshawa just for open mics??

        • Hey James,

          I’ve went there once – it was good. Actually, I did a show there on Sunday at 7pm with Rene Payes (Weight Loss Challenge).

          Yeah, I travel all over for open mics. And it’s not just for open mics…it’s for open mics with a CROWD. I would rather go to 2 open mics a week with 5-10 audience members than go to 6 a week with 1-2 crowd members.

          Have you called into the Yuk Yuk’s line to try and get a spot? It’s amateur night tonight!

          Jagdeocomedy on twitter

          • James Worthy says:

            So you did a open mic night at Comedy Bar as well as this sunday show? What happened in this weight loss challenge. sounds interesting?

            5-10 people is a TINY crowd. I need a place with at least 50 people. I went to the Imperial pub last night, there were like 20-30 people and nobody laughed at anyone up on stage even when the jokes were funny. This one guy had shocking dark material and there was a delayed “haha” or a Ohhh!” Which leads me to believe that the audience there is not a very smart one.

            I didn’t call Yuk Yuk’s, because it seems like they only allow you to perform once very 2 or 3 months. Don’t you find that?

            • Hey James,

              Actually, the Weight Loss Challenge was a paid show at the Comedy Bar in the main room that Rene asked me to appear on. I went up fourth in a series of six comedians.

              5-10 people of actual audience members (not just comedians) is a very solid showing for an open mic in Toronto. I mean, I’d love to play to a bigger audience, but if I could consistently find an open mic with 20-30 people I’d be ecstatic! I’m not sure if you’re gonna find open mics that you can do a set on a weekly basis that bring 50 audience members.

              But beggars can’t be choosers, I guess! How long have you been doing comedy? Any clips?

              Jagdeocomedy on twitter

              • James Worthy says:

                Not too long. Maybe a few months. I like working with bigger crowds because the small crowds at free venues, they’re not there particularily for the comedy. So they’re usually not stand up fans I find. And no, no clips.

                How many times have you performed at Yuk Yuks?

              • Don’t get me wrong, I’d do big crowds every day of the week if there were available to me.

                I mean, check out this clip of me in a bar full of people who couldn’t care less than I had a mic in my hand because the second game of Hockey Night In Canada was playing on 50 screens all around me. I did what I could to engage them and move on.

                In the end, I had a captive audience of 10-12 people that I played to for the rest of my set.

                I’m a beggar so I can’t choose…yet! I’ve only been on Yuk’s once…I’m hoping to get on tonight though.


  7. Rex says:

    Let me get this straight. You were asked to perform for a show in which audience members had to pay to watch you perform? Who would do that? I saw your material, people should not be paying $20 to watch you peform and you should not be getting paid to perform either. I’m sorry. Anways, how did you get asked to perform?

    • Hey Rex,

      First of all, thanks for commenting. It means a lot that you’re sharing your opinion with me, regardless of whether you’re a fan of my comedy or not.

      And yes, you had it straight: I was asked to perform in a show where audiences had to pay to watch. I’ve done that at the Hard Rock twice (two more coming up) and now the Comedy Bar. I got asked to perform because Rene Payes, who hosts the show, has seen me do well. So you may not like my comedy, but it’s clear that there are people that do…comedy producers, no less! 🙂

      Don’t be sorry. You’re clearly not a fan of my material, and that’s OK. I’m not bothered that you’re not a fan. In the end, I’m going to have more non-fans than fans…that’s how life works.

      Look, people can hate on Dane Cook all day and all night, but the fact of the matter is, he sold out Madison Square Gardens TWICE. So there are obviously people that like him. Like, a ton of people. I’m sure a ton of people don’t like Quinn C. Martin, but there he is, selling out shows at the Hard Rock Cafe in the heart of downtown Toronto. I’m sure there are people who don’t like that guy with the puppets, but he sells out shows.

      What I’m saying is this: don’t ever jump to the conclusion that because YOU don’t like something that other people shouldn’t like it.


      • Rex says:

        Dane Cook sells out Madison Square Garden to 13-20 year old girls and other comedians don’t like him because he steals material and makes a 30second joke into a 5minute retarded rant. They only like him because he is “hot”

        • Dane cook had a million followers on Myspace before any of the stealing stuff came up. I’m a fan of Dane cook’s material. And just because you don’t identify with an audience or think they meet your standards doesn’t mean he’s not still doing comedy.

  8. Marvin says:

    Hey, so where did you meet this Rene Payes and Quinn C Martin? I want to get in gigs like that, but I don’t know where to go and see them. I was going to try either Yuk Yuks tonight or Comedy Bar, but they have a lottery for 4 spots. I tried booking a spot with Evan Des….whatever but he totally ignored my email and tweet.

    I’ve only been doing stand up since last month. So I’m VERY new to the Toronto Stand up scene, but my friend who’s a pro in NY, Nikki Glaser, says I’m hilarious and should be a comic. Sorry to name drop hah

    • I did my first ever open mic spot at Rene Payes’ Spillin the Beans open mic at Full of Beans Roastery on Dundas West (every Saturday at 7pm). We were on a few shows together and he asked me to do the show for him at the Comedy Bar.

      I met Quinn because I did a set on his show, ‘Toronto’s Talent’ for RogersTV. He liked my material and booked me on one of his Hard Rock shows, and then he liked what I did there and booked me on another one. To get a spot on the Toronto’s Talent show, simply call 416 446 6606 or email talent at

      Don’t feel too bad about producers not responding by email – most don’t. They get so busy running shows that they give preference to the people that proactively come out, introduce themselves, and show that they support the shows that the producer himself/herself is putting on. By simply showing up, you’ll leverage Zajonc’s mere exposure effect (the more we’re exposed to a stimulus the more we like it; i.e. Top 40 radio) and they’ll end up liking you.

      Hey man, glad to have you aboard as a fellow comedian grinding it out! Have fun man…the end goal is just an excuse to go on the journey. 🙂

      Michael Jagdeo

      • Marvin says:

        Thanks for the tips. I would be going to a lot more comedy shows just to watch if I didn’t live in Oakville. This place sucks.

        • Damn. Oakville is far man! Gotta GO train it or something. I like that you’re close to nature though. I’m in the concrete jungle that is Malvern…

          • Marvin says:

            Yeah, but it’s not too far. I always drive or go-train in. The distance isn’t the problem, it’s the cost per trip that is. I have no idea where Malvern is, but sounds… interesting

            • Yeah, Malvern is in Scarborough. It’s the place out of towners don’t want to go, lol.

              On stage tonight?

              Michael Jagdeo

              • Marvin says:

                Nope, not on stage until June13th so far. I got booked at corktown then, but I’ll try for comedy bar and yuk yuk’s next tuesday. Ever been to Corktown? I like performing in big places like Yuk Yuk’s, but I feel like I think Corktown might be small. I like big audiences because there are only like 2 or 3 people who would laugh at my jokes. They’re all dark/taboo and on the alternative side.

                How about you?

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