Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Speaking of...

Obviously, I'm thinking a lot more about crafting my comedic persona and in doing so, I've come to realize that I don't really need to craft one. I don't know why it's taken me so long to realize this. But, as I've slowly discovered, I don't need to be someone else onstage.

I've been performing on a far more regular basis these days, which is both good and bad. The good: it's ALWAYS a good thing for a comic to perform on an almost nightly basis. The bad: not all rooms are equal and not all shows are ... ah, helpful.

Last Saturday, I had a great time (and a great set) at the Comedy Studio. The previous Wednesday, I tanked so badly at a late night open mike, I can still taste the bitter dick I chomped. Now, granted, the circumstances were not the greatest. I was the 347th comic to go up. It was well after midnight when I finally did my 5 minutes of monkey-dancing. And a large black "comic" slumbered in the back of the room, snoring loudly for most of the show - rousing only briefly from his cacophonous sleep to lumber onto the stage, deliver his witty barbs and race-baiting rants, answer some questions from around the room in some half-hearted attempt to improvise with the audience of comics, only to lurch to an abrupt halt at the end of his time, of which he went over.

But, it was only an open mike. So why shouldn't I have rocked the place? I should have no trouble being funny for a bunch of comics, especially when the 2 sitting up front are dressed identically and look like they just walked out of a Harry Potter convention (an observation that fell on deaf ears). And yet, there I was, stumbling through my set, watching helplessly as both new and old material alike struck out worse than Mark Bellhorn on a 3-2 change-up.

Dont get the wrong idea here. I'm not examining my comedy techniques because of a bad set at an open mike. After that cluster fuck of a show, I did 2 more sets which went fine, culminating in a pretty solid taped set at the studio. The real issue is, I KNOW what I need to do. And I know how to do it. But when I get uncomfortable or nervous, my mind freezes up and I'm on autopilot. It might not always translate to the audience, but I know the difference. Moreover, I've seen some of the best comics around have off-nights. Yet, even when their stuff isn't always working, they still exude confidence, as if to say, "I'm a professional. I know what I'm doing." They don't let the audience reaction rattle them. Or, if they do, they certainly don't let it show.

That's where I need to be. That's where I want to be. And that's where - hopefully - I'm going.

It's just the nature of the beast, man. Work, work, work. They can't all be rock star nights. But man, those open mikes can be brutal. I believe the good reverend is right: I need to drink more. A LOT more.