Posts Tagged ‘Stand-up comedy’

The majority of the audience are 40 plus.
Therefore, keep the jokes relateable to this age range. Talking about things such as Mortal Kombat, Pogs or Boardwalk Empire may not go over with this audience so well as when doing stand-up comedy in a bar with young people. Young people will understand the references because they were there as well. Also, keep the material clean as older people do not gratuitous dirty jokes. Which is okay, because my jokes are generally clean most of the time regarldess who I am performing for.

One good rating can make your show extremely successfu.
My review from CBC was medicore and it while it can still be argued that I could still have had a successful fringe without a great review, getting 5 stars from the Winnipeg Free Press, allowed me to relax and enjoy the festival more. People do not take a balance of the two scores and go based on the average, instead a great review will run wild and drum up business better than one could possibly believe. Other groups had to work much harder, handbilling and promoting their show than I had to simply because I got lucky. There is both skill and luck in being lucky as I am not going to say I didn’t deserve the good score but the score from CBC shows that not everyone thought as highly of my show.

While Fringe festival can be lucrative, it may not necessarily help your social calendar.
This one is pretty self explainatory. There is no arguing that my fringe festival was a success and yet, after it was all said and done no girls flirted with me because I was a star of the fringe-festival and I still felt as uncomfortable talking to people my own age as ever.

Not every show is going to be equally strong, but that doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up over it.

Do not rush yourself, it only makes it that much harder to get back on course if you start off badly because of rushed lines.

If you say your show is going to be 45 minutes if you go under 35 critics will not like it.

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my 56 day challenge

Posted: January 25, 2013 in Uncategorized
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So I have been offered a position in the prestigious Winnipeg comedy festival hosting the show at the library. Last year I did it and it was a blast. In addition, I have been offered an oppertunity to talk to a group of parents in an informal session about myself and doing stand-up comedy. Which is what I have been working towards.
However, lately I have not been feeling really respected in the Winnipeg local comedy community as a performer. Therefore, I do not want to do the library show simply because I work at the library but because I deserve it. Therefore, I have given myself a challenge of working really hard for the next 56 days at writing as much as possible, going to as many local shows to watch other performers and doing as well as possible at open mics in order to get into the weekly showcase at the Cheer or the Loft. If I can’t get into either of these shows in the next 8 weeks at least once, then I feel like I should turn down the comedy festival because I do not deserve to be in it on my own merit and will feel crummy about being in it simply because I work at the library.
I have decided to write this post about my challenge because people who publicly announce their challenges for themselves and where there is some kind of punishment for not following through are more likely to not give-up on their goals after a couple of days or weeks.

That is a really weird confession to be making after doing stand-up for over three-years but I really am not sure whether I get comedy or not. There have been times when another performer has told jokes and the audience has loved them and yet due to being to literal I am left scratching my head, why what I just watched went over so well. For example, another local comedian has this joke where he does an impression of the Canadian flag. Every single time he has done the joke the audience has absolutely adored it. I on the other hand was waiting for the traditional set-up followed by a punchline. My literal brain is like that does not look at all like a flag, why is so funny? I have over time become a fan of the joke just because it is so goofy and fun but on the other hand I really did not get it. There have been countless jokes told in the local community or that I have seen on television that have left me scratching my head on what was so darn funny about what I had just seen.
This trait is not exclusively about others, however, as there are jokes that I tell that still leave me unsure why the joke went over so well with the audience. For example, I have a joke about not being the smartest tool in the shed, which is an old metaphor, and then saying I am sort of like a rake. At the time it was simply a toss-away joke and I never gave it too much thought about why it was funny until it went over really really well. Therefore, I have told it over and over again and yet I still do not know why the joke is funny but keep using it because every time I have told it, the audience has seemed to love it. Really, I like many people with Aspergers am too literal minded which has got in the way of my having written many more jokes at this point than I currently have. On the other hand the pure randomness of how I view the world and the things that confuse me is devoured by the crowd as hilarious. This is not something I can count on, however, because when I go up with the strategy of just talking about my confusion about life and it does not follow any kind of stand-up pattern this strategy often backfires as the crowd does not enjoy it.
All of this simply leaves me with the realization, that I in fact do not know how stand-up comedy works. I enjoy stand-up comedy but I don’t truly understand it. Therefore, sort of keep it at an arms-length distance, which is the same relationship that I have with the rest of the world created by NTS.

It’s been a tense couple of weeks as a result of weeks for the Asperger community. So to remind everyone of how hilarious Aspergers can still be I posted this video.

 

One of the common characteristics of Aspergers is the inability to block out unnecessary information which leads to sensory-overload. Having to deal with all of this information can be extremely distracting and probably feels the same as ADHD, which has led to people with Asperger’s being misdiagnose.d Some people with Aspergers avoid going anywhere where there is really loud noise because all of the stimulus can be overwhelming and make them feel sick afterwards. I am fortunate, unlike many people with Aspergers that I am able to deal with this stimulus; otherwise I would not be able to do stand-up comedy. Looking out on the audience when I am on stage can often make it very difficult to focus on the joke I am telling if I have not planned it well in advance. I will start telling a joke and then suddenly be like huh, that guy has a nice baseball cap, wow that girl in blue is pretty. Hmm, why isn’t that guy in the second row second from the left laughing. I wonder if I can win him back. Some people you can’t win over because there is something else going on in their lives that they are distracted about or they are just tired. Then again, comedy is subjective so I can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I can also be completely thrown off when two people are having a conversation during my set.  They don’t think that they are doing anything wrong because they are being quiet, therefore, it shouldn’t affect the comedians set. However, unlike many comedians, I have a harder time focusing and tuning out the unnecessary sensory information.

Receiving all of these stimuli is a double-edged sword when I am performing. On one hand, it forces me to interact with the crowd more than other people and a crowd that is involved; is usually a happy crowd who enjoys themselves.  On the other hand, receiving all of this information makes it harder to focus on the material that I have written. At times, when I am trying out a new joke the sensory information can be overwhelming and make me forget how the joke I have written for the show goes. Therefore, when I focus on the message I am trying to get across I sound like I am reading the joke off of a page and it looks extremely awkward and wooden. Stand-up comedy often is not about telling jokes but is about sharing observations or insights. Therefore, if you are drawn out of the moment because you have to focus on the joke, you often run the risk of alienating the crowd. Many comedians can actually bring their notebook up onto stage to remind themselves of how a new joke goes and still come off as more natural than I do with a joke that I have been working on all weekend. As a result, I generally try to keep my jokes simpler and shorter than comedians who are able to go up there and tell whole stories. I also leave out doing funny voices for my jokes because it is just another tangible to focus on, and when you are already stretched thin, something has to go.  Even then, in the end, after coming off stage I often realize that there were several jokes or tags that I wanted to tell but simply being up there led me to being so distracted that I cannot remember them.  I am not going to say having Aspergers is a hindrance to stand-up comedy, but it definitely plays an important role in shaping who I am as a comedian.

A constant on-going issue that this blog tries to address is how having Aspergers affects my stand-up comedy. One way, that it plays a part and that most people don’t think about is sensory-overload.

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When I went to the Mis En Scene last night, as soon as they got off-stage, they had a million well-wishers wanting their time in order to congratulate them on how well they did. As soon as I saw this I thought how exhausting. When performing anything in front of a live audience, whether it is comedy, acting or music, you are expected to give the crowd a lot of energy and focus. While on stage you have to be completely focused one hundred percent of the time. In stand-up this focus is often on the crowds, in order to make sure that they are laughing and that you have their full-attention and that they are engaged. There is  alot of sensory information you are taking in, from the noise of the audience laughing to the visual information of people laughing, to focusing on trying to engage the audience members who are not engaged and draw them in. While, mentally focusing on which jokes work, which need to be modified and which need to be dropped.  I am perfectly okay with this when I am on stage, no matter how long  my set is, but, when I get off-stage I can’t be my usual charismatic self and talk to everyone until I have had at least 10 minutes to myself to disengage and deal with sensory overload. It is just too exhausting and I need this time to relax my brain and get ready to go again. I am not one of those performers who can get off-stage and immediately greet my well-wishers and thank them for taking the time out of their schedule to support me and for giving me their attention. I don’t mean to be rude to anyone I just can’t  do it. Give me time and I would love to talk to everyone there, but without this time I would simply be a mess. Therefore, I am always amazed when performers are able to do it.

You can find out more about misen Scene and listen to their music at www.miseenscenemusic.com

 

“A wise person once said that writing and performing comedy is the easy part the hard part is the off-stage part.”

I completely agree with this sentiment. Every time I get on stage I do well enough. Heck lately I have been making serious progress in my stage performance and have been having the best sets of my career, thus far, but it doesn’t make a difference I still have not been offered any more stage time.  Since being a talented comedian is not enough when it comes to all of the off-stage drama. A person can work their tail off and put in many hours working on their jokes but if this work does not get acknowledged by people who have comedy rooms it is all for naught. That is one big difference between writing a blog and stand-up comedy. I can work as hard as I want on my blog and my fate does not rest in the hands of a few people but getting acknowledgment from anyone is equally valid. Also there is only so much work you can do on your stand-up comedy without a stage to stand-up on. 

   In the battle of off-stage drama I feel I am poorly equipped as I am not the most charismatic person as a result of my Aspergers.

Therefore, this is a frightening trend and I am worried at this point of time.

As someone with Aspergers fashion is often the furthest thing from my mind. Usually I will just grab clothes and if they are clean then I’ll wear them. Also this seems like a futile gesture, however, because my clothes quickly get dirty when I wear them. You could say that I am not the neatest eater.I am horrible with color coordinating, or figuring out what is the newest fashion. I should be dressing better, meaning wearing less t-shirt and more shirts with collars. The only fashion trends that I have noticed creeping up is wearing Lou Lou Lemon Yoga pants to activities that have absolutely nothing to do with Yoga. Apperently, they make women’s derriere’s look better. Wearing pants that fit and are not to big or small do this just as well, nevermind buying fancy pairs of sweat pants. Another fashion trend that has started, who knows how long ago, is pre-teens dressing like they are going to the bar. When has it become acceptable to let your 12 year-old daughter to dress up like a hooker? I would assume its the whole Tracy’s mom let’s her line of arguement and Tracy is a 50 year-old mother who still dresses like she is ready to go to the bar and views her 10-year-old daughter as her best friend not her daughter. Parents, children do not need you to be their best friends (not true in your case Kikky but you still act like a parental figure not my peer) they need you to be their parent who sets rules and stops them from wrecking their lives and becoming teen moms or worse. Parents fun activities you can do with your children is reading books together, going to Stellas for bread pudding and tea, activities you should not do with your children prowl for creepy men. See who can drink more tequila without passing out.

Aspergers on comedy. If you have been following this post you may wonder why I do stand-up comedy, because I am extremely self-conscious and insecure. However, for some reason I always want to be the center of attention. Which seems like a contradiction because if your standing in front of everyone they will see your flaws and your inadequacies. Perhaps I figure that if people are laughing at my joke it means they like me and accept me for who I am. Maybe if they see how funny I am they will want to be my friend. Even this seems contradictory like saying this is how I am messed up don’t you still want to be friends with me. Some people are really clever and are able to make statements about the outside world like Matt Nightingale and get their laughs that way, it definitely seems like the better way to go because you are not holding up your flaws in front of people, however I cannot, most of my laughs come from poking fun at myself.

I have always known I was funny or that at least people laugh with/at me and when your on the stage you definitely cannot tell the difference because a chuckle is a chuckle and a laugh is a laugh. I figured doing stand-up comedy would be easy just opening up a wound and letting the humor flow out. That I would be making money at it in no time. I was sadly mistaken and that it is much harder than it looks. It takes years before you can make a somewhat steady paycheque if you ever get paid at all. The only way however, is to charge forward in it as if you know you have talent that you may or may not have. Another interesting thing is it is impossible to know ahead of time what will work, there is no reason or rhyme to it.

Having Aspergers sometimes my sense of humor does not match the rest of the audience and sometimes things that I don’t think will be funny are hilarious. It’s impossible to understand what will get laughs and this is horrible for someone who wants the world to make sense and can’t just go with the flow. Therefore, you are constantly on the edge of quitting because you just want the world to make sense and are fustrated because some joke that killed in the past is bombing with the audience only to get back-up on the stage one last time and to become addicted to the laughter all over again. I guess that is why I do stand-up comedy.

Many groups of disabled people such as deaf people do not think of themselves as disabled. They think of themselves as “otherly” able. They form their own languages and have strong communities.

People with Aspergers tend to not think of themselves as “otherly abled”. For example, Spiderman and Superman can both do the same job but in different ways. Therefore, are differently abled, people with Aspergers do not have qualities that make up for their shortcomings; instead they are more like Rudy from the football movie about Notre Dame football, Rudy.

No matter what we work really hard but we are not as big or fast as the others playing the game. We have our own strengths such as being the hardest working people and we see the world from the perspective from the underdog which gives us advantages in certain areas but unlike the deaf community if you asked anyone of us if we would rather be normal we would jump if given the opportunity. Part of the problem why we do not establish the same strength of community is that we fit in different places of the spectrum for example, some people lead normal lives despite receiving a diagnosis of Aspergers, get jobs get married and have normal lives. Other people need more assistance. I am on the higher end of the spectrum and the only place my disability has a large impact on my life is with women. I still have not had my first relationship I have come close a few times but no success. I have had my first make-out session with a bride who was about to take the dive and get married the next day. She was also dressed as a hot pirate as was the rest of her bridal party. After the girl kissed me, however, none of them wanted anything to do with me and the experience, alas came to an end. While the deaf community on the other hand are united because they have their own language and are more separate from the rest of society.

Most articles about Aspergers in the newspaper are about how they do not have imaginations and lack a sense of humor. Therefore, when I say that I am the sexiest person with a blog out there, you can take it as a fact. This lack of imagination is one reason why people with Aspergers struggle with irony because they cannot imagine that something is true which is not. I am a stand-up comedian but how funny I am is up to debate, after all I did only make it to the semi-finals where I lost to Ben Walker, in my fourth year of the Rumors Funniest comedian with a Day job contest. This series of blogs, however, is to prove to the contrary that some people with Aspergers can understand humor and that there is more to us than you read about in the newspapers or in most books that are out on the market right now. Ultimately having Aspergers sucks but if I did not have Aspergers than I would not have this opportunity to prove how wrong you all are about our lack of imagination, sarcasm and sense of humor. We are in fact much more capable and less capable than others give us credit for. In case, you needed another example of our imagination I still think I am going to make a living as a travelling comedian. Maybe my problem is the opposite that instead of not having an imagination I live in my imagination and have no grasp on reality. At least that’s what my mom tells me every single day.

It’s annoying when people think of other people with disabilities as disabled people but it is equally annoying when people with disabilities and others think there is nothing wrong with disabled people and that they are just as good as everyone else. Yes we can accomplish the same things as “able-bodied” individuals but it is much harder to do so, do not delude yourself.