Tomorrow will make it 6 months since I started pursuing comedy in earnest through a 6 week course at Sparkarts. Taking that class gave me a great foundation that allowed me to meet a bunch of new people, get good feedback from an established teacher, and provided me an outlet to perform in a graduation showcase. It was easily the best investment that I made during 2014. It eased me into the comedy scene and gave me a great foothold to pursue comedy, and in the four and a half months that I have been performing since then I have grown even more and gotten more comfortable on stage. Now I want to explore what comedy has become for me.
I suppose that the best way to start out is to look at why I wanted to try comedy in the first place. I have always been told that I am funny and that I make witty comments, but I wasn’t sure if it would translate to the stage. I wanted to give comedy a try but was always intimidated by the thought of breaking into a scene, which is why my class was perfect. I had taken a short one day class with the same instructor a few months prior and said that I wanted to give an open mic a shot, but as predicted I kept postponing it until 3 months later I decided it was time to put up or shut up. I just so happened to stumble onto the Sparkarts website on the final day to register for their introductory standup class, I suppose that it was fate.
I went into the class knowing that I could do 5 minutes of material no problem, and I did. In fact by the end of the 6 weeks I had 15 minutes of rough material, which I have since hammered into mostly polished work. I was able to tweak things and and make adjustments so that my B level material from the class is actually parts of some of my strongest jokes. There is a recording of my performance that shows some of my A material, but because I was so uncomfortable on the stage I am embarrassed to do that material again. I suppose one of these days I will have to work it into my set, but for now I just have it back burnered. It is fun to look back at a post I wrote just prior to my first performance and how my approach has changed and how the things that used to terrify me are becoming second nature.
People always want to know what style of comedy I perform, and I am always kind of at a loss for an answer. I suppose that I am an observational comic with a very autobiographical storytelling style. I am still working to find my stage persona, and am just using my own persona turned up to 11. I want to come off as a smart guy who winds up in stupid situations and can laugh about it afterward. I know that a lot of people aren’t fans of self deprecation from comics, but I feel that I am able to walk the line between seeing myself as I really am and laughing at my own mistakes. I want the audience to hear my jokes and feel that they know someone who could have wound up in the same exact situation. I want to make it real and give the audience a glimpse of who I am and what I am about, kind of like my goals for this blog.
The past few months have been a great journey. I have driven thousands of miles to perform in bars, creperies, bowling alleys, bakeries, pizza places, speakeasies, coffee shops, and living rooms all over Vermont and the Albany area. I have had the chance to meet a whole lot of people that I would not have met before, and hear a lot of great jokes. I will never do an impersonation of John Mayer covering Gin and Juice, or rap about having Bernie Sanders’ Baby, or tell jokes about being a feminist, or a black guy, or a jew, but I certainly enjoy hearing lots of comedians from diverse backgrounds do their thing week in and week out. That is totally worth driving all over, and spending money on beer in hope of grabbing some stage time. It is a time consuming hobby, and after months of performing I have made less than what I make in 2 hours as a pharmacist, but it is a very fun diversion so it is worth it.
Someone asked me what my goals are for comedy, and what the end game will be, and I didn’t have an answer. I want to enjoy comedy and stay involved with it, but not make it my entire life. Lets face it if you want to make it big you need to move to NYC or Chicago or LA and work those bigger cities nonstop until you get a break, and that is not in my plans. I don’t have any expectations of becoming the next Louie CK and I am entirely fine with that. I don’t want to leave Vermont and if I did I wouldn’t leave for comedy. There are some very funny people in the Vermont comedy scene who will take that leap and I look forward to seeing them on tv soon, but that isn’t very appealing for me. I want to hang around and make people laugh. It would be nice if I can make enough to pay for my gas and beer, but that is my only real goal. I suppose that I can branch out whenever I get a chance and put my name out there in clubs around New England in hopes of becoming a regional comic, but that is just an abstract goal. When I am traveling I like to find an open mic to perform for my friends and family so that they can see me doing what I do, which is why I am doing an open mic at the Dunedin Brewery tonight. Maybe someday I can turn them into paying gigs, but for now it is worthwhile for me to just make my friends laugh. I want to keep getting booked into shows and doing open mics and working hard to hone my act into something that sounds professional. I want to make people laugh and ride that stage high, and I suppose that will have to do.
Since I started performing a few months ago I have met and exceeded all my goals. I am being booked into a few shows a month and continue to make it to open mics. I have gotten better and better each time I step on stage, and hopefully I will continue to learn from my mistakes and my successes and continue to improve. I may not look for my name in lights, but I certainly enjoy what I am doing, and hope to keep it up for a long time to come.