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Goals For This Year

This year I have a few goals.

  1. Have more confidence on what I have to offer as a comedian.
  2. Be on at least 12 shows (that’s one a month). Check spots count.
  3. Write more. Way more. Seriously, what is wrong with me.
  4. Continue expanding my presence in the NYC stand up comedy scene.
  5. Maintain this blog!

These are all practical goals. I definitely play it too safe, I’m ultimately frightened by my own success and potential. Which is why I was a solid B+ student my entire academic “career.”

I don’t want to be a mediocre comedian.

“Anyone here fly recently? Planes be all like, in the sky and shit”

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Year One*

I started going to open mics October 17, 2009. Or October 25th, 2009. I’m not sure, there are some discrepancies in my notes.

Factoring in some time lost due to a nasty case of strep, January 1st, 2012, marks a year of stand up. (To be clear, one year in comedy is nothing. A drop in the bucket – one best forgotten at that). I think I have had a fairly successful first year.

My goal was to be booked on a show, to be asked to tell my jokes. I met my goal in a weird way: I wasn’t “booked” on a real show. Instead I was offered two check spots at a comedy club. For those who don’t know, a check spot is the time during which the audience pays for their drinks. They are distracted, talking, and realizing comedy clubs charge 10$ for beer.

Check spots are a notch above being booked in a bar show because they happen in an official comedy venue. It is common at this moment in comedy for people to work their way into clubs from independently produced shows – and it’s not uncommon for them to get started with check spots as well. I am starting at the bottom of a ladder that I want to climb, I don’t have to switch ladders (go from bars to clubs).

The check spot is also like a stamp of approval from an official comedy institution.

I also started hosting an open mic at Stand Up NY (Tuesdays). I remember watching the hosts at their Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mics and wondering how they got that. Now I know – they asked.

And lately I’ve been having some really swell open mic sets that were winged.

I feel as though I accomplished a lot during my first year. It’s been insane watching a new set of inexperienced, green stand ups come out – another thing that has made me feel like I made some progress. I’m no longer new to stand up.

I had a successful first year, though it is scary to think that THIS is the closest thing I have to a career.

*This post is guaranteed to be better than that movie, Year One.

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Check Spot, A Week Later

Based off the “success” of the first check spot, I got another.

Stand Up NY is very good to me.

It went well. I was less nervous, but still a little stunted. I’ve reached levels of energy and enthusiasm in open mic performances that I have yet to reach in a real show. I have to get there.

But people laughed, and I left to the biggest laugh of my set, so, showmanship points. I’m not totally comfortable in front of a paying audience yet. I’m still very green (as in a year and change isn’t long for a comedian at all) and I need more real stage time. Being a year into comedy is like being a year old baby, I’m starting to get a handle on being coordinated but I can barely function and I tend to shit myself. This check spot showed me the value of open mics.

I don’t stumble when the audience doesn’t laugh at a joke or isn’t paying attention. I don’t get mad or distracted. And my material works. I just need to sell it. I need to bump up the performance.

If I had to have a game plan on how to do that it would have to be running around the Lower East Side, trying to get on as many real shows as possible. I need to learn to work a crowd and sell my jokes hard. I have to figure out how to get the crowd pumped up on the front end, I’m confident that I can work that energy after that. I’ve done it before.

Maybe I’m just saying I need to open with a super strong joke. Comedy 101.

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Check Spot

Today I had my first check spot.

They have a reputation for being terrible. Just extremely tough spots where the audience is too wrapped up in paying the check to pay you any mind.

That being said, I did the spot in one of the best clubs in the city. Stand Up NY is generous with the comics who preform there. The staff really pushes to create a great atmosphere where comedy and having a good time are the focus. They succeed. And as far as check spots go, the wait staff and hosts do an amazing job at making it as easy as possible, people actually pay attention (though they do talk).

It was my first time in front of a legitimate paying audience in a comedy club. It went well. I’ve seen comics eat their ass during this spot, and I didn’t (thank god). But I didn’t kill. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do so. That was stupid because now I can’t be happy with doing fine.

I didn’t preform my jokes, I told them. Comedians that hold your attention preform their jokes as they tell them. It’s a balance that takes a while to own, I’ve only just started to do it at open mics. The crowd laughed where they were supposed to and I told every joke I wanted to (not being able to remember each joke was a fear I had). I Even ad libbed a little, so I had solid victories. But I didn’t carry the energy from joke to joke. I was a little stiff. I was a little nervous.

I felt as though the audience mirrored my energy.

Now I know what to expect and I will kill the next spot. I had fun, I can’t wait.

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die Blog, die.

I’m terrible at having a blog, I always forget about it. Or get to busy and convince myself that I can’t put in the time.

It makes me scared of if I’m capable of ever having a real job. Something where you go in, day after day, year after year, forever and then you die. Maybe It’s a good thing I can’t handle a 9-5.