So far, seven months have come and gone in 2013. So far, I’ve been on stage six times. Ugh.
Long story short, a ton of personal issues have come in the way. Don’t worry! Nobody’s pregnant, and I’m far from depressed. However, things have gotten to the point where I’ve cancelled all of the shows that people have booked me on because I need to stay close to my family.
Have I given up on my stand-up comedy career? Quite the contrary. In fact, I’m creating more now than I ever have before, and I owe it all to the idea of Serial Rituals.
Rituals In Action
The Power of Full Engagement tells us that only 5% of our daily activities result from conscious decision-making. Everything else is automatic.
This has lead the authors to posit that creating rituals, step-by-step activities aimed at helping us live out our values on a regular basis, is the key to leading a purpose-driven life.
After finishing the book, I realized that one of my core values was Humour. Accordingly, my major goal was to be able to kill eight out of every ten times that I stepped on stage. What I needed was a Serial Ritual, that is, an activity that I could practise with increasing intensity on a regular basis, something that encouraged me to both write and practise comedy.
So, three months ago, I started a daily ritual where I’d sit down twice a day, 30 minutes each time, to write and rehearse comedy. Each week, I’ve added a minute to each session. Fast forward to today, I’m now writing and practising stand-up twice a day, 43 minutes each time.
With the help of my serial ritual of Daily Writing & Practising Comedy, I’ve created more in the past 3 months than I have in my first 1.5 years combined.
But am I moving closer to my goal, which is to have a killer set eight out of every ten times I step on stage? Yes, but only in one aspect. On one hand, I feel that I need about an hour’s worth of material in order to be able to have consistently great 8-10 minute sets, no matter who’s in the audience. However, the crucial aspect that I’m missing is the practising of crowd work, improv, and overall stage presence.
They say you are praised in public for what you practise in private, and I honestly feel like my Daily Writing & Practising Comedy ritual is going to be one of the major competitive advantages that I have down the road.
But, can I really call myself a stand-up comedian right now? Nope. Stand-up comedians get in front of crowds and make people laugh. Right now, I just stand in my living room with a mic in my hand (well, it’s more like an empty water bottle), doing crowd work with a set of IKEA end tables.
Are there any scientists in the room?
[To the end table] You sir? What’s your name?
Shügendügen? Great. Where did you go to school?
[To the rest of the furniture] Um, are there any ACTUAL SCIENTISTS in the room? Ryersün doesn’t count. You can’t be a scientists with a college certificate created using a template from MS Publisher.
Oh really? It’s a university now? Well, a thorn by any other name, I guess.
|BULLSHIT, Mike. Utter horseshit. Six times in seven months?? You know what your problem is? You’re afraid of the stage. You’re afraid of bombing, you’re afraid of failure, AND you’re terrified that all of this ‘wonderful’ material that you’re manicuring at home is gonna fall FLAT.|
Yeah, you’re right. I am afraid. I’m placing way too much weight on writing comedy and not enough time on executing comedy.
That said, I decided a few months ago that I wanted to have a 30-minute arsenal of material prepared that I could use in my stand-up , rather than just having five minutes. Therefore, I wanted to take more time to rehearse so that the material would flow like water. If it’s one thing that I’ve learned from doing these acting auditions, it’s that if I haven’t rehearsed my lines a million times, I’ll be too preoccupied with trying to think about what I have to say next, instead of just being.
|WHOO WhoOOOoo!!! ChuggaChugga ChuggaChugga ChuggaChugga ChuggaChugga! All aboard the Excuse Train!!!!! Now boarding for Pussyville!
Just kidding, Mike. Well, kind of. So you’re saying that, in part, you haven’t been on stage because you’ve been focused on rehearsing your material? Is that what you think being a comedian is?
What about learning how to deliver material? Is that important to ya?? More to the point, you think you’re gonna learn how to deliver material at home? If you don’t set timelines around when you need your material ready for an open mic, your work is going to fill the time allotted, and you’ll never be ready.
True say, homie, true say. But keep in mind that unlike the first part of my stand-up career, I’m now:
- Applying to eight acting roles per week, rehearsing, and going to auditions. This is crucial so that I can develop the skill necessary to get union roles which will lead to an ACTRA membership.
- Meditating 4 times a week.
- Making a conscious effort to spend more quality time with family, something I haven’t done in ten years. Right now, my family needs me more than they ever have.
- Doing a mixture of walking, yoga, and P90x to try and get down to 180 (I’m 188 down from 215 right now).
Alright, alright, I get it. We’ll start with two open mics per week, and every two weeks we’ll add one more. How’s that sound?
|Sounds like you’re a pussy, pussy.
Look, just remember that you have a habit of being a pussy, and that it’s a habit that you’re trying to break. Sorry to be the one to give you the eyeball poke.
Nah, man, it’s good. It’s good that you did that. I can sometimes use writing about life as an excuse to avoid living life.
|Shut up and dry yourself off, pussy.|
Lol, ok ok I get it…jeez! Lol.