Posts Tagged ‘Standup’
Altering one’s consciousness. Loosening up. Drinking alcohol. Let’s call a spade a spade: It’s easier to be free, to ‘vibe’ with people, to show your funny/sexy/sassy/groovy side… when drunk.
On the other hand, drinking can be messy, throw up-y, dependency-forming, relationship-hurting, and hangover-inducing… and I see no room for any of these items in my current adult life.
No big deal, right?
And yet… I dare you to go try standup comedy without a little liquid courage.
I did it.
Yes, gentle readers – readers, whom I sure would have laughed harder than the collection of corpses (to be specific: corpses who became animated for 3 minutes each, to grace the stage & tell horrifically misogynistic and unfunny jokes) did the other night at the Comedy Store (yup. I got up again) – I have now done a grand total of 6 minutes of what could loosely be defined as “standup comedy.”
In that I was standing up in front of a crowd and attempting to make them laugh.
It actually is as terrible as it sounds.
Terrible, and terrifying. And stupid. And not fun.
Why in the world do I want to keep trying this?
My jokes aren’t that funny (YET – I’m working on it, ya know?!) – but in front of THESE crowds – these Hollywood-y, comic-y-er than me, obsessed with sex and body parts and way raunchier-than me crowds – my poor little jokes don’t have a chance. The MC at the Comedy Store was harsh – he asked me if this was my first time ever doing standup, said he was going to “ream her, except I looked into her eyes and now I’m in love,” and then he announced the comic who went up after me as “The first comic of the night.”
I’m not saying he was altogether wrong. After all, it WAS almost my first time ever (it was my second). I was nervous again, I hadn’t rehearsed my opening jokes and they were kind of long and not so funny.
On the other hand… NO ONE (with the possible exception of the MC) was remotely funny either. Not the seasoned comics, not the guy who worked at the Comedy Store and supposedly just got back from touring with Pauly Shore, not the guy who opened the night whose name was “Sperm Douglas” (talk about a sign; I should have walked out right then and there), and not the drunk kid who went on after Sperm & before me –a kid who was heckled so obnoxiously that the MC shouted at the drunk kid to stand up for himself, then kicked the heckler out.
So I guess you could say I was in good company. Or, to be more accurate, terrible company.
Which begs the question… why am I doing this again?
I think I’ll go have a chocolate cupcake. Which is as close as I get to alcohol sugar these days. Sigh…
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
The very first time I attempted to do standup comedy, at The Improv, I wasn’t even allowed to grace the open mic for 3 minutes. Apparently, there are just too many comics and too few time slots, and my name didn’t ring any bells for whoever chooses the lucky performers.
The second time I attempted it, at The Comedy Store, I got there a half hour before the show, as instructed by their website, and waited a half hour in the freezing cold before I found out that I should have gotten there an HOUR AND A HALF before the show in order to sign up. In other words, I missed the signup. In other words, I would not be doing standup, yet again.
The third time I attempted it, again at The Comedy Store, I got there super duper early, signed up, and waited. I had been told by a regular that I’d probably get up since I was new. Yeah… that didn’t happen. Snubbed again.
The fourth time I tried, at The Improv again, my name… was put on the list! I got up! But… while I didn’t exactly bomb… I wasn’t exactly hilarious either.
I’m paying for babysitters I can’t afford so my husband can come with me these first few times. (Other comics can be slimy. And I’m tough but I feel much better with Aharon there. Plus he can film it so I can see what I did wrong/right.) I’m leaving my children without their mommy during prime parenting hours, so I can give this a shot. And so far, in the four days I paid for a sitter and left my kids for a collective period of seven hours, I did a grand total of three minutes of nervous comedy in front of a sparse crowd of fellow-comics.
I remember when I did my first open mic as a singer. It was at the now-defunct Highland Grounds. I was one of the lucky, “chosen ones” to get on the list. I did one song. It went great, and I was asked afterwards to come back and do a 20 minute set for the owner, from which he hired me to start doing 1 hour shows every month. I used those shows to get other promoters, as well as shows at different venues, and thus launched my singer/songwriter career.
At the Highland Grounds 20 minute audition performance, Kenneth Brian “Babyface” Edmonds watched my set. BABYFACE! One of the biggest music producers ever. He smiled as he watched.
I was sure it was all a “sign” – the fact that I got chosen immediately to be in the open mic, the fact that Babyface watched me sing, and the fact that I was immediately asked to come back to do more.
But when I look back on my singing “career” – a career in which I never made any money or had any real success – I realize I was looking at the wrong indicators.
For example, Babyface’s presence during my set wasn’t the sign. The fact that he didn’t offer me a record deal once my set was done… THAT was the sign.
Not sure how these first standup attempts measure up – should I take it as a SIGN that I wasn’t booed or heckled or ‘silenced’ offstage? Is it a SIGN that it took me four tries to get up on stage? Is it a SIGN that I did get one good laugh?
Or should I stop looking for signs and just keep one foot in front of the other?
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)
What’s a girl gotta do to get some laughs around here? Wait – don’t answer that. Allow me. A girl must – if she wants her laughs to be heard, specifically, by a non-paying audience of sketchy and possibly mentally unbalanced comics – a girl must stand in line for hours, put her name on a list or in a hat, and then NOT get picked to go up that night and do her 3 minute routine.
Let me back up.
A few weeks ago, my husband proposed that I try standup comedy. He knows I am a writer & performer, that I love to stand up in front of a crowd, that I love to make people laugh, and that I love to listen to comics perform, live or on TV.
I love my husband. So supportive! I had thought about it a while ago, but immediately negged the idea when i realized it would mean I would be out at night trolling for laughs while he would be stuck caring for our 3 kids (or else we’d have to pay a fortune in baby sitters and possibly therapists, down the line). But with his support… nay, his blessing… I decided to go for it.
I pulled some material from various blogs I’ve written and amped it up a little for live, in-person, public consumption. I practiced a few times in front of some friends to work out the material. Then I went to my first open mic!
…And didn’t get picked to go up.
Turns out, if you want to do 3 minutes of material for an open mic at The Improv or The Comedy Store, you have to arrive hours early, wait forever to see if your name gets put on the list, and brave gross overtures by drunk & stoned “comics” even with your husband by your side, and then – most likely – NOT get picked to go up.
Honestly, I have too much going on in my life to waste hours like that! Kids, work, husband… but something in me (that Leo that craves an audience??) wouldn’t give up.
And on my 4th try – yes my FOURTH – I got up.
It was at The Improv, on Melrose. Famous place, but at 5pm on a Tuesday, the only other audience besides the comics is… no one.
Turns out, that didn’t prevent me from being a bundle of raw nerve. Mostly, I was thrown off by the lights – I had completely not expected to be blinded by the stage lights & had rehearsed with the idea that I’d be able to see and connect with the audience.
Still… I was SHOCKED to learn, once I trembled my way offstage, that I had, in fact, NOT bombed! Aharon assured me that I didn’t even seem nervous at all (?????!!!!) – though he didn’t get some of my jokes, which I’m sure is because I was nervous & therefor my delivery & timing were a little off (couldn’t have been the joke, right? LOL).
You can be the judge… because Aharon video-taped it! So here it is, my first ever foray into Standup Comedy. Here’s to hoping I get another chance before too many other comic losers hit on me and/or I lose my momentum.
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)