Taking Risks: Acting Out

This might be my favourite joke to date:

Why? Because it takes a risk that I’ve cowered in fear from for a long time now…

Acting Out

When you act out a scene and nobody laughs, the stage can become a VERY uncomfortable place. It’s probably because at that point, you’ve done just about everything possible to make a joke funny. Accordingly, my early experience bombing my ass off made me shy away from writing jokes involving extravagant body movement.

Thankfully, my perspective changed when I remembered a quote from Rodney Stephens’ Stepping Out of Self Deception:

…We feel restricted and defined within our pain, yet something inside us knows we are more than what we have taken ourselves to be. We would like to think that we could leave all the pain aside and go directly to the payoff of interconnectedness, but for most of us that is not the case. One of the hardest lessons on any spiritual path is to understand that interconnection comes from the wisdom discovered through exposure to our pain, not in turning away from it.

And man did it feel great to act out that final, ‘Troubleshooting!’ at the end! The next time, I’m going to relish it longer!

Apparent Spontaneity

The best jokes always come when something happens unexpectedly, whether it’s on stage or through interacting with the crowd. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you can create the illusion of spontaneity, it can take your jokes to another level, which is what I was trying to achieve in the above clip.

I’m trying to seem like I’m naturally digressing at 0:27 when I make fun of my basketball shot. I don’t think I sell it enough, but that’s the first time I performed it on stage. As I get more experience with it, I’m sure it will come along.

Advice From Ayanna Dookie

Before the set, Ayanna Dookie, an awesome comic out of Baltimore, gave me some sage advice,

Ask yourself: What’s my point of view? Just stating something that everyone agrees with is great, and might even get laughter. Now, take it a step further and figure out why YOU find it funny, not why you SHOULD find it funny, or why the audience finds it funny. What is funny about it to YOU?

So last night, I stopped and thought, ‘Why does a guy bragging about his expensive adventures bother me so much? Well, it’s because I’m broke and therefore feel inadequate.’ That emotional context allowed me to feel my material more than I ever have before. Thanks Dookie!

Who? Me? Aw shucks…I’m just a guy,



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.
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8 Responses to Taking Risks: Acting Out

  1. The terrible physical attempt at a shot when talking about ‘real’ bball is funny when you clearly can move like the real thing for a video game. Can you take the mic away and use both hands for thr ‘real’ shot? Ties the whole bit together, and brings us into your world perfectly. And some of the best laughs I’ve heard at standup gigs are the ones that make the audience laugh just by having them remember something you said or did earlier – and this, while not perfect yet, does do that. My thought is that a bit more verbal distance between the initial sad hoop shot and the perfect 3-pt score would make it more of a memory for the audience and a bigger laugh. I’d try to elaborate on the brown part – you’re not black (not in the USA meaning) and not white – so why is brown not able to do anything? Maybe brown can only be mediocre, until it comes to videogames… Yes, more movements!
    Um. You don’t have to listen to me, I know SFA. But lawsy me, I spent a lot of thought on this comment! I need beer now.

    • HTBS…

      you get EXACTLY where I want to go with this. Excuse the language, but I want to relish the fuck out of the perfect 3-point shot . In fact, I want to do it just like Michael Jordan at 0:31:

      I’ve been trying to imitate him, but keep losing my balance when on my tippy toes. That’s not a joke; I can’t keep my balance.

      I wonder if I can yell, ‘Troubleshooting!!!!‘ loud enough and long enough so that the microphone doesn’t even need to be close to my mouth for the audience to get the idea? Aww man…can you imagine if I do the shot, watch it go through the net, and then do the jog away from the mic stand like Jordan does?

      And yeah, you’re right about there being more to explore in that bit regarding the indian expertise in video games, i.e.

      You guys think you’re hot shit at the YMCA, eh? Well I’ll take you to the post, put you on a poster, and sign it for ya on NBA Jam…Boomshakala muthafucka.

      Now we’re having fun. I think we’re crowdsourcing comedy. Neat-o!

      Thanks a million for your thoughts on this. I’m going to start practising for tonight’s show RIGHT NOW.


      PS – that Crowdsourcing of comedy is an idea that deserves much more than a sentence in a comment after a blog post…it’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now…actually, what it is the creation of a Mastermind a la Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich…we’ll have to explore this further!

  2. Ah, thank you for paying attention to my ideas. I got all freaky and wide-eyed when I saw such a positive response. I’m a clumsy fucker too, so good luck with looking like MJ! Oh am I allowed to say fucker? Ah, you can edit. Is NBA Jam the biggest and most popular game on platform? I’d want to go with whatever game everyone knows. I did catch in the video that the geek references went over well, so that’s an avenue to explore as well. Could you be the Canadan Geek Comic? has that role been taken?

    • Of course! We’ve known each other for so long that you have a sixth sense for what I’m trying to do.

      NBA Jam is the most memorable basketball game, for sure. Yeah, when I said, ‘31 lives and shoots lazers and spreads‘ I got a good reaction. It was a quiet night, with 2 non-comedians in the room, so I’ll take it! Boomshakalaka comes in at 1:09:

      Yeah, when it comes to the nerdy references, K Trev Wilson (recent winner of the Just For Laughs Homegrown Competition) told me that accuracy in comedy is very important. The thing is, I feel the need to tread the fine line between being accurate and being accessible to the people who aren’t familiar with the NES game Contra.

      I’m not sure if the role is taken…I’m more of a nerd than a geek, i.e. I stopped playing video games after N64 came out, but last night fell asleep to Survivor on audiobook by Pahlaniuk.

      You’re in the will now…:)


  3. Oh now I’m lost, am I a nerd or a geek? I’m a huge Chuck fan. Ever read Bukowski, or listen? He is so honest it scares me a bit. I do know I’m pretty damn drunk -yay me, for being able to imbibe when I wanna, such a benefit of being “of age”. I’d have to research myself what game is most popular, and as an investment, because it’s worth it, go and test-drive games at the local big-box retailer. ‘Feck off, geek-child, this is for WORK!’ You’re single so I can’t say the investment is a real financial one that ya have to pass off in order to buy the game/platform.

    • I’ve never read Bukowski. Which book would you recommend that I begin with?

      Yeah, I’ve been reading a lot of mythology lately, because I want to expand (remind?) my mind when it comes to the possibilities available when it comes to writing. I also like when I take different points of view on the same subject, and I want to see how other writers get into different characters’ heads.

      Bernard Evslin is an absolute master at this:

      The way he recognizes that a child would struggle with the word, ‘Sphinx’ is magically genius.


  4. Pingback: Having Fun By Any Means Necessary | Diary of a Toronto Stand-Up Comedian

  5. Oh dear. I’d say his first full novel, Post Office. I’ve still not read all the novels – since he’s dead and there won’t be any more, I savour them. He wrote a shit-ton of poetry but I just don’t get into poetry. I’d rather read a cereal box. Yer man Bernard sounds decent, thanks for sharing that.

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