Comedy Horror

After work last night, I dropped in on the CBC Hubcap Comedy Open Mic at the Pumphouse here in Moncton. For those that aren't familiar with it, amateur comedians get a chance to do short stand up bit in front of a live audience. The winner of the event gets to perform at the Hubcap Comedy Festival.

I have always wondered what it would be like to be a stand up comedian. I even sometimes think that I could do it well. After meeting me, many people have said "hey, you should be a stand up comedian". This advice, I assume, is pretty universal among people that want to try it. After all, if you're not generally acknowledged as being funny you probably aren't likely to get in front of an audience for laughs.

Which leads me to believe that, generally speaking, people are liars.

I arrived late and left early, so I was only exposed to portion of the evening's line up. Let's call it eight comics. Two were funny. Not "oh my god I'm going to wet myself" funny, but funny enough to get laughs on a regular basis. The rest ranged from amusing, like when the CEO of your company tells you a joke, to horrifying in a way that I can only believe that people not only lied to you but they also hate you.

Here are some comedy do's and don'ts that I cobbled together based on last night's experience.

  1. Do watch other comedians. Preferably professionals, but definitely the rest of the line up. You'll figure out what the audience likes and what draws a silence like Schindler's List.
  2. Do not think you are those professional comics that you have just watched. You are not. You know how everything that comes out of a pros mouth is funny? Almost everything that will come out of your mouth will not be. But that's okay. Just recognize that fact when you are writing your set.
  3. Do write your set. Write your jokes down and put together a set list so you know which jokes you've told and what the punch lines are. Doesn't matter how much you practice, even the pros blank sometimes.
  4. Do not write your set list on your hand, and do not put your set list somewhere where you cannot see it. Even if you are the most calm and collected individual with no fear of speaking in public, those lights are HOT. Also, if you write your list on a piece of paper, don't then put that paper on a ledge behind you.
  5. Do have a schtick. Have something that sets you apart so people will remember you.
  6. Do not have a disturbing schtick. People do not like clowns. You know who you are. Stop it.
  7. Do feel good about the fact you have the courage to do this. Not many people do. I haven't gotten the courage yet. Someday, I will, maybe. But for now, I'll just write snarky lists.
  8. Do not feel good that the courage you gained came in a chemical form. I have no doubt that you'll think that you were awesome last night, and that you had the crowd eating from the palm of your hand. I can only pray that you have good friends that will support you and guide you away from trying to do this again, and not bad friends that might allow you contact with children.
That's all the time I have right now, gotta get ready for work in the real world where I don't make people laugh for a living.