Thursday, March 6, 2014

CVP 3/2/14: "Crowd was dead, I felt comfortable"

LATE UPDATE AGAIN! (I am reliable!)

Sunday at Charles Village Pub was the first time I had done comedy in over a week after a less than stellar excursion at Sidebar.

The crowd was mainly comics and a few drinkers, I assume because there were warnings of a massive snow storm that would strike us at midnight. The only heckler left after Luke Marshall's bit about Baltimore's Holocaust Memorial. As she left, she let Justin Hancock know that as a German she doesn't find Holocaust jokes funny and that he should let Luke know.

I know we all make mistakes and don't like to be reminded of that fact, but c'mon. Sometimes you just have to admit "my bad" and try not to repeat them, German Girl. By the way, your American accent was very convincing.

Since my last set was dying on stage and trying to get a reaction of any kind; my focus this time was to not freak and be as calm as possible on the stage. Besides not really having any material worth talking about, I feel confidence on stage is my biggest weakness. That and not being funny.

Before my set I went to the bathroom and was walking to the sink to wash my hands when a guy entered the room. He looked at me and assumed that I was going to just walk past the sink and off on my merry way, so he held the door for me.

And that's how I opened my set, that despite that I've trimmed my hair to look less like a derelict, people still assume that I have no personal hygiene.

My next bit was about how my cat gets better health care service than I do. Several parts got laughs and I think it has some legs, I look forward to streamlining it out.

To close out I did two of what I consider my A material and they did well, Justin said later he really enjoys the Happy Harbor bit which is pretty cool. I like Justin's brand of silly/gross/self degrading humor so it's nice to hear he likes a bit of mine. In the end, I sounded pretty good on stage and I consider it a success.

Chris Colletti told me about his experiences doing the New Comedian contest at Magooby's and the story of his biggest bomb on that stage while doing a guest spot. If you're a comic and don't know what I'm talking about, you really need to ask him about it the next time you see him.

Future goals are to do Jon Yeager's Friday open mic Friday at Benny's Bar & Grill in Potomac and try to get to Ryan Neser & Tok Moffat's open mic Tuesday in Frederick.

Here is a picture of a duck:

Thank you.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sidebar: Omar's last night and the crowd mourned.

I'm dreading this one.

Seriously, I'm going to need some seriously upbeat music to trudge through this recap.. hold on a sec..

There we go.

If you see a commercial before that starts, I wonder if it's going to have the guy with the long beard in it. He's been in all the ads lately.


So Monday at Sidebar was weird. It started off decently, but after seven or so comics the crowd just stopped caring. It wasn't straight out heckling or anything. There was definitely some side conversations as it seemed people were more interested in talking to each other than pay attention to who was up on stage; but that seemed mainly focused in the back alcove.

But even then, it wasn't like they were over whelming the audio, it was just like speaking to a brick wall.

A brick wall that mainly laughed at video game references, comics expressing regret that their jokes weren't going over well that night and little else.

Let's back up a little bit. I'm making the night sound bad, but it wasn't a total wash. I commuted for the first time with other comedians (Joe Greenway and Chris Colletti) and got to talk shop. It's reassuring to hear other people voice the same concerns and dreams as you, makes you feel less insane for wanting to get up in front of a crowd and try to make them laugh.

As we all slowly funneled ourselves onto the stage and then off it to retreat to our compatriots and discuss our feelings on what just transpired; I realized while my anticipation was rising, my fear was not. That was pretty uplifting. I was comfortable on that stage, in front of these people.

I began my set by giving Luke Marshall a shoulder massage while he awkwardly introduced me. Kathy Carson shouted at him to relax and let it happen. The crowd was laughing and I tried to amp it up higher by channeling energy straight into the mass of humanity in front of me.

They weren't buying what I was selling.

I didn't feel it was fake energy.. listening to it, I feel like I sound genuine. By the way, this is excruciating to listen to. I've had to pause four times so far and I'm only two minutes into a four minute recording. And besides my own voice, all that you can hear is silence from the crowd. The only laughs are from the intro and the reference to video games.

Attempts at telling jokes are abandoned about halfway and I tell them about Twitch Plays Pokemon, which they approve of. I then express sadness at Omar Shaukat's impending move to NYC but I think he was outside smoking. (Good luck again, buddy!)

The light is given. Luke Marshall comes to announce the next comic. I remove my shirt.

Pandemonium results.

The people did not want comedy this night. No, they wanted nipples with eyebrows.

So in the end, what did I learn?

Beats me.

Nice farmer's tan, you cracker.

Monday, February 17, 2014

CMF@CVP: Recording entitled "Am I talking too fast?"

Last night at CVP was a good one. A crowd primarily made of comics but the room was full. Now that I think about it, I should probably take photos of these places. A little visual aid, if you will.

The crowd was discerning, I felt. They weren't giving out free laughs, you had to work for it but if you had something good they definitely rewarded you. A lady in front of me had the best laugh and you know someone struck gold when she would clasp her hand to her mouth and moan "OH LAWD!"

When you can make a person react like that, it's got to feel amazing.

A lot of people signed up so it was 3 minutes per comic and as a result I focused on trying out a few new bits: Moob fight, Italian restaurant and Flower delivery. I think they did good for the most part, but afterwards I was wondering if I spoke too fast. The finish of Italian restaurant didn't have the heft that it did the first time I tried it and I'm wondering if it was because the speed was too much and I lost the crowd or the finish is too easy to see coming.

Moob fight is becoming a favorite and looking back on it, I think it'll segue easily into my wasted youth bit. I really enjoy it but I'm betting it would only work on a  younger crowd, I don't know how many people over the age of 40 would understand a Street Fighter / Dhalsim reference.

That is the face of comedy, people. Get with it.

My biggest problem lately is when I run out of the stuff I'm focused on for the set, I just stand on stage and wrack my brain for anything and just grind the show to a halt. I need to stick something in the back pocket, a simple bit that's killer and not bigger than a minute. That is my next goal.

Special thanks to Color Me Funny's Joe Greenway, Justin Hancock and Thezz Grimes for the fun times!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CMF@CVP & Sidebar: The Manic/Depressive world of Open Mic Comedy

It's hard to write a recap of your set when you get home after midnight, so here we go.

Sunday: Color Me Funny's open mic at Charles Village Pub - Towson:

For the last few weeks there has been a decent crowd at CVP, I'm guessing left over from people watching the final games of the football season. This weekend it was just us comics and while I knew most of them, I felt really separate. I wanted to talk to people, but I just couldn't seem to connect with others. It was really awkward.

I tried out a new bit about about my household financial situation which I was uncomfortable doing because it could come off as bragging or possibly bring unwanted attention to myself. For me the funny aspect of it was finding out how well you're doing when everyday you're worried about being one step from sleeping on a curb.

It didn't go over well, until I really started pouring energy into it. Legitimately expressing my confusion and self-loathing at the situation. The comics seem to respond well to it, so that was nice.

Monday: Sidebar open mic - Baltimore:

And then for whatever reason I was OK at Sidebar! I was able to relax and have really great conversations with Valance Michael, Stavros Halkias, Umar Khan, Ryan Nesser, Leeland Clayton and a special shout out to my fellow "Garbage Time Warrior" Chris Hudson! I really felt like a part of the scene and not just some creepy guy standing next to the wall. I got my first "I'm looking forward to your stuff" from Ronald James.. which is the nicest thing some one's ever said to me that wasn't related to me or married to me. Everyone had some great stuff even if there was talker during the majority of the show.

That kind of behavior mystifies me, especially since my behavior most of the time can be compared to a beaten child. Don't call attention to yourself, stay to the side, observe everything quietly and be prepared to run at a seconds notice. But this girl kept talking after being shushed and asked to be quiet numerous times and STILL KEPT TALKING. Eventually Kathy Carson shouted at her to shut up during her set and the entire room broke out in applause. It worked for like, a minute. When she finally left it was in an indignant huff, like we were the ones who were raised in a barn. Amazing.

The financial situation bit out was tried again, and it didn't do so great. I don't think it's worth the potential drama it could bring, so I'm shelving it for now. But I did have a great off the cuff bit about fights inspired by the guy that was with the talker. I also tried out a bit regarding a story about an ex and an Italian restaurant that became a bane to her existance but modified it to involve myself and my wife. It went over really well, but later discussing it with the spouse she didn't like it being attributed to her or the negativeness of the story.

I like the way I told it because it's easily explained. If I have to add in words to explain the relationships of the actual people involved with the situation, that's more time for an audience member to get bored and lose interest. I'll tweek it and see if I can get some mileage out of it.

Big thanks to the Color Me Funny guys, Luke Marshall and Omar Shaukat for running these rooms and giving me a place to express stupid thoughts!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Last Laugh at Sean Bolan's Irish Pub: Color Me Funny closes their first room.


It's been awhile. I was going to use this blog to keep up to date with how I grew in stand up comedy; chronicling what a person might encounter if they gave it a try.

I was going to do it because I hated reading famous comedians' biographies and the section where they got their feet wet and learned the ropes was glossed over. It's always, I was a funny kid and I tried it and hey I ran into these other famous people that weren't famous at the time and we all made it and then I got my first show..


People want the nitty gritty. Maybe. I think.

Ok, I wanted the nitty gritty. And then I never updated.

Let's do what the famous people did and gloss over what happened in the last year: I did some open mics. I wouldn't practice, I'd go up and wing it and fail. Get frustrated. Not go out again for a month and then just repeat the process.

What did I learn in that year?

1) Go out as much as you can.  I think this is the cardinal rule, It's the one that can't be glossed over by talent or having a connection. Every time you go up, you get more comfortable. You get more used to the words you want to say, less likely to flub or forget. People get to know you, your name gets out there. You make connections or fans. Sitting on your couch and thinking jokes in your head cannot accomplish these things.

2) Record your set and review it. This is really hard for me. I'm pretty good about recording myself but I hate hate HATE listening to myself afterwards. After I get off stage I'll name the file how I felt about the set and even if I think I had a good one, I will be annoyed and frustrated at myself.

But you have to do it.

Not everyone is going to get better at the same speed as someone else. All you can do is try to be better than the last time you went up. Have a little goal such as not get mad at the crowd if you don't do well, or break a string of words you keep using out of habit. Sometimes, you'll ad-lib something that becomes a killer tag on a joke you're working on. Reviewing the tape makes you better.

3) Don't judge other comics. Be nice to everyone you meet. They're going through the same stuff you are, trying to get better, find some stage time. You never know who's about to hit their stride and move up the food chain. And it's better to have another person you can talk to get leads and opportunities than have burned a bunch of bridges.

This stuff you can find out in any "How to Comedy" book. But that's because it's true. I decided to be hardheaded and had to learn it the hard way.


So let's get to it. I want to do with this blog like Mike Finazzo did with his; write about a set afterwards, how I felt about it and what I learned.

The last set I did was at Sean Bolan's in Bel Air. It was the last night that Color Me Funny would be hosting a show there. They've outgrown the room and wanted to focus their time on continuing to improve.

Even though I work Tuesdays and open on Wednesdays, I really wanted to go. I've done a couple of sets there before and have always bombed. This time, I had bits I believed in and that had done well in other shows.

I will now listen to my set and pass judgement.


Ugh. Wow. It's a set I've been working on for the last month, cherry picking some of my best bits and cobbling them together so they flow into each other. The last 3 times I've done this set, I've gotten a lot of laughs.

Last night? Ugh. I remember one girl in the front who looked so bored that I had to force myself to not look at her or I'd lose focus.

I talked too fast from lack of reaction, my bumper sticker bit died in all but one spot (the reveal of the job) and there is  much pruning I need to do to get the overall set under 5 minutes. There's a bit I have where I talk about my mistake in career selections that I think goes better with another joke, so I need to stop telling it with this bit.

And once again, I shouldn't be upset with the audience if I don't do well. My sign off was "Well, you've been a barely conscious audience.."

Oh well, live and learn.

Friday, August 10, 2012

First Final 30 Feet podcast

As part of an online class I am taking, I made a podcast.

It's horrible. TRULY HORRIBLE.

But it will get better.

I hope.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Who am I to judge?

Blogging is a lot harder than I imagined it to be.

I had made one other post, which I apparently forgot to publish and then accidentally deleted it when I realized it never went up. So not only have I failed to update weekly as was my original intention, I wasted extra time making up a heartfelt update and then weeks later sending it to a virtual trash can without giving anyone a chance to see it.

Also, I am too dumb to figure out how to get said update out of the virtual trash can. Meh.

My plan had been to update by watching each set I've done, linking it here and then critiquing it. Where I was and how I was able to preform there. What I thought I did wrong and what I thought I did well. 

That's going to have to put that on the back burner for now. Something else is rattling around in my brain at the moment.

I'm not sure how to go about doing this; I am no great writer. I don't want to mention names because things like this have bitten me in the ass before. But I just have to get this off my chest, send it out into the void and see how it resonates with those who read it. 

The other day, a local comedian asked other local comedians to help him out with a simple favor. He wanted to do a 5 minute guest spot for Patton Oswalt when he came out to Virginia later this year. He had already contacted the venue, but they said they don't do guest spots unless the headliner requests it. So this young up and comer asked fellow up and comers to tweet Patton Oswalt, hoping to get a chance.

Oswalt was recently lauded by the comedic community for the keynote speech at the Just For Laughs comedy festival, in which he wrote two letters.  One was for young up and coming comedians and the other for those that he called "The Gatekeepers", the managers, the agents and the development executives whose decisions open or close doors for those who reach for the brass ring.

I'd already been a follower of Patton's for awhile and I greatly enjoy his tweets and every time I stumbled onto an appearance of his I had a good time. I really enjoy what he does! The documentary behind his "Comedians of Comedy" tour had been inspiring and educational for me. The message I had taken from it is "Comedians are just people too. People trying to succeed at what they love."

I quickly sent off a tweet. Something I thought would be a little funny and help get that message out there:

"Hi, you don't know me or (other comic's name here), but he would like to open for you in VA. I just want to smell you. That's cool, right?"

I honestly didn't expect much to come from it. I felt good because I might've helped another person get a step closer to their dream. I knew the chances were slim to none, but what did it hurt?

Later, another person in the Baltimore comedy scene mentioned how they had been blocked from viewing Patton's twitter feed. I then wondered at how my feed, which is normally dominated by Patton, had been very quiet. I had a quick moment of fear and then had it realized. I had been blocked as well.

Here's where my brain has trouble figuring out how to feel. On one hand, I didn't know I had done anything that wrong.. just one tweet. But I realize that most likely anyone else that had lent their support to this endeavor had been blocked as well. I can see that it might be annoying to see a spam of one message flooding your connect tab in twitter, but the guy has over eight hundred thousand followers. It couldn't of been THAT out of the norm, could it? I acknowledge the fact that any positive response could start a very annoying precedent, soon anyone that had aspirations would recreate this activity when Patton comes into their area. 

I just feel it could've been handled a different way; perhaps a tweet saying something like "Hey, I heard you but I'm afraid I can't do what you ask. I already have someone else I promised.. I don't want this to become a regular thing.." Or just scroll past these voices on the internet. But I got blocked. I got blocked for tossing out less than 140 characters for someone I don't really know directed at another person I don't really know. Maybe I shouldn't of asked to smell him.

I can still read Mr. Oswalt's tweets on his webpage, if I want to. It's just that I feel confused that the guy who said that the rules of comedy are changing and we can do it on our own if we try became a gatekeeper and shut the door on a group of squeaky voices that called to him.

He told me, "Hey, you. You don't matter to me. And I don't want you to read what I think."

And really, who am I? I'm just some schmoe that's done four open mics. He's been doing this for twenty three years. I guess after gaining eight hundred thousand followers, one person just doesn't mean that much.