Sunday, January 30, 2011

Show #21: Hightopps Bar and Grill

I did ten minutes at Hightopps Bar and Grill tonight.  I had a really good set and enjoyed performing to a packed room.  It was Seaton Smith's last area show and over one hundred people turned out to watch.  Crowd wise, its the biggest turn out Hightopps has had for comedy so far.  It was a great show and came at a good time after a few rough spots this week.

It was my twenty-first and last show of the month.  I set a few comedy goals for myself at the beginning of the year.  One of them was to do one hundred and fifty to two hundred sets in 2011.  Right now I'm on pace for two hundred and fifty.  With my wedding and work schedule, who knows if I can keep it up... but I'm really enjoying doing as much time as I can and writing about it.

So far 2011 has been really good to me...


I deleted a previous blog I wrote about last night's show. When I wrote the post, I was very frustrated and angry towards one person in the audience (who happened to sit four feet away at the table in front of the stage). I did not mean to make any generalizations or mean any ill will towards the The Laff Lounge, it's patrons or it's staff.

Bill Herold owns and runs a great business. He is a great ambassador and friend to comedy. The Laff Lounge provides the best comedians and entertainment on the east coast to greatest fans and people in Maryland. I have performed there four times and have had some of the greatest and fun shows there.

The heckler that got my attention in no way represents the Susky or the people of Port Deposit. This unfortunate person could have been in any club, anywhere on any given Saturday night. My negative thoughts towards her were childish and quite frankly should have not been said publicly. Furthermore I should not have generalized her as a patron of the Laff Lounge. To do that would be 100% false.

I can not stress how well I have been treated by Laff Lounge, it's staff and patrons. I'm truly sorry for my comments I made.  The comments are more of an accurate representation of my inappropriate behavior than anyone at the Susky.  They were written in jest by a neurotic and frustrated comedian that should have focused on the hundreds of great people that pour into the Susky River Grille every weekend.  I hope to return soon as a fan, if not a performer.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Show #19: Terra Cafe

I did eleven minutes at Terra Cafe's Monthly Comedy Show in Baltimore.  It was a good time and I had a solid set.  I'm still struggling with the wording on a new joke. I'm also working on the order that I tell some jokes but overall it was a really good set.  I told the story of last week's show where the DJ played Wham! as my intro and outro music... it went over well.  Tonight's DJ got the last laugh when he played me out to Billy Ray Cyrus.  Good times...

Shows #17 & #18: RFD and Brittany's

Did two sets last night... It was almost three sets but I had to settle for a mixed bag of two shows.  My first set was at RFD in DC.  With the exception of one tag and a joke that went about one line too many, I absolutely crushed this set.  Got two applause breaks and did really well. 

Brittany's in the Virginia did not go as well.  It was a shitty, shitfaced and red neck audience combined with me just flat out sucking.  It was a recipe for something....well pretty shitty.  I was tired.  It was my third room I went to and second set of the night.  But quite frankly, I should have been able to over come it.  I can't blame the audience... I should have been able to find a way to squeeze laughs. 

I had a good run of shows for a while... so bombing felt like a big punch to the stomach. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Show #16: Laughter in the Basement

I did eightish minutes at a new open mic at Balls Bluff Tavern in Leesburgh, Virginia.  It was a pretty good open mic with a decent bar crowd.  It was nice running into Seaton Smith (who in my opinion is one of the best comics working right now).  He is about to move to New York full-time, so it was cool shooting the shit with him and talking movies for a bit.  Aside from being enormously talented, Seaton is one of the nicest dudes you will ever meet.  I'll be performing at Hightopps Bar and Grill this sunday, where Seaton is making his last area appearance (for a while).

As for my set, it went pretty well.  I got a lot of laughs but it was mostly with crowd work and improv.  The downside was I screwed up the wording on the one bit I was wanting to work on the most.  So yeah, that's why that bit still needs work...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shows #14 & #15: St. Mary's & Baltimore Comedy Factory

I did two shows tonight with mostly great success.  The first show was at St. Mary's Restaurant, which has a weekly comedy show run by Aisha Gunn and Henry Jonez (a.k.a. Misfitz of Comedy).  It was a pretty small venue, but good sized crowd (fifty or so people).

I did ten minutes that went over pretty well.  It was definitely a set that got better as I progressed and got further into it.  I made a rookie mistake by telling a new(ish) joke first.  The bit still got a laugh and is going to end up being good.  It just wasn't tight or polished enough to open with.  The rest of my set went really well otherwise.

The room was very urban (which is what white people call black rooms when they are afraid people will think they are racist) but very receptive.  I always have fun in those kinds of rooms.  The DJ used Wham! as my intro music...which I found really fucking funny.  Overall I have to say Aisha, Henry and Henry's wife Marcia are really nice people and run a fun show.

After my set, I stopped by Baltimore Comedy Factory.  The very funny Rob Cantrell was headlining and I wanted to stop by and catch part of the show (and hopefully get some time).  I've done work with Comedy Factory before so Alabama (a very funny comedian and resident Factory feature) hooked me up with a guest spot.

My spot was on the late show at 11, so I got to hang around and watch Rob's set from the middle show.  It was a packed house and a great set to watch.  Rob is a really good story and joke teller.   He is a hell of a nice guy and definitely a great comic to learn from.

My guest spot went really well.  I've heard horror stories of the third show on a saturday night.  The 11 pm show tends to be rowdier and drunker.  Overall this was a good crowd.  However one drunken heckler tried to give me crap during my last joke.  I let him have it a bit and won that one.  If I wasn't doing well with my set, I might not have won the battle.

As a general statement, I hate hecklers.  Stand up comedy is tough and heckling a comic is like sucker punching someone at their most vulnerable moment.  Even the worst comedian doesn't deserve to be heckled.  It takes a lot of courage to try stand up, so even a really terrible comedian deserves your respect.

That being said, if you are going to be tactful as a heckler, don't go after the comedian that already has the rest of the crowd on his side.  It's not smart.  Also, if you're going to go after a comedian who is doing well, the last thing you should do is stick up for Maroon 5.  Not only are you a lonely asshole in this venture... you come off as very obnoxiously not hetero.  You are a minority within a minority within a minority and you are never going to win that fight.

So I have to say it was a very good night for stand up.  I feel like I'm building some momentum and doing well in situations that I would not have done well in just a few months ago.  Its becoming more and more fun and I feel like I'm enjoying the maturation process as a comic.

No planned shows until next Sunday... but I'll definitely be hitting open mics this week to work on some jokes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Show #13: Clare and Don's

My second set of the day was at Clare and Don's in Falls Church, Virginia.  It was a packed house and a really fun show.  My buddy T Brad Hudson featured and Graham Currin hosted.  Graham is a really good writer and runs a great show at C & D's.

I calculated how much stage time I've done this week and it ended up being 170 minutes of stand up.  It turns out that doing stand up in thirty minute chunks adds up very quickly.  So after a long week of stand up, the marathon and working a day job, I didn't have enough energy to play jazz and experiment with my ten minutes at the show.

For the most part, I did my tested material and jokes that I knew would work.  It went over really well and was a nice end to a week of stand up.  A shout out to Graham, Bryan Paul, Tyler Richardson, E.J. Edmonds and a very tired T Brad for a good show.

I'm off (from stand up) tomorrow but have another show with the Misfits of Comedy in Baltimore on Saturday.  After that, I'm back to hitting open mics and working on new jokes for the next few weeks.  I also hope to see my very loving and patient significant other as well.

Show #12: Magooby's Joke House

My run at Magooby's (soon to be world record breaking) 81 hour show finished this morning.  I did my third and final set in front of fifteenish hung over comedians and audience members.  I didn't do much written material... I mostly riffed and played off the audience.   It still ending up being a lot of fun and a good time.

The owner of Magooby's asked me to host a weekend run next month.  We had a long talk where him and his brother (Comedian Marc Unger) had a lot of really nice things to say about my comedy and writing.  It was a great confidence boost and nice to here from those guys.  They are sleep deprived and stressed from running a four day show and really didn't have to talk to me or give me feed back of any kind (let alone five paid gigs next month).

Overall, the marathon was a fun and fantastic experience.  I got a chance to do what I love with my friends and help raise money for a wonderful cause.  It really was an honor and very humbling to play even a small part in such a big event.

I have another show in Northern Virginia with my friends T Brad Hudson and Graham Currin tonight.  Should be a good time.  I'll be writing again soon....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Show #11: Sonoma's

I did a second set today at Sonoma's Bar in Columbia, MD.  I'm happy to say it went very well.  Erik Myers (who is enormously talented) performed one of his last area shows before he moves to Los Angeles and I was lucky enough to drop in five minutes.

Erik is from Columbia, so he had a lot of friends and family come out for the show.  It was a great crowd and I ended up having a really good set.  I mainly wanted to work on two new jokes I just started workshopping.  The bits ended up going over well, marking the end of a good day in comedy.  Most importantly, it was great seeing good comedians and hanging out with my good (and talented) friends Ben Rosen and Rob Nelson.  And that's what we call "good times all around."

Until next time, I leave you with this....

Show #10: Magooby's Joke House

Just did thirty-three minutes at Magooby's Joke House as part of the marathon.  I realized that if you put comedy and sunlight together and take away an audience... You get really interesting and mixed results.  I still had fun.  I recited Old Dirty Bastard lyrics and admitted that I like Coldplay.

I followed Erin Jackson... I've seen and opened up for her before and think she is one of the best comics working now.  She is a great writer and talent and hope to be as good as her someday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Show #9: Magooby's Joke House

A little background... Magooby's Joke House is the biggest and best comedy club in Baltimore.  Last month Magooby's decided to attempt breaking the world's record for the longest comedy show.  At the time, the record was fifty hours.  Magooby's started making plans to break the record by planning a fifty-five hour comedy show.  Around the same time, the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles beat its own record by doing a show that lasted eighty hours.  Not deterred,  Andrew at Magooby's scrambled and planned a show that is going to set the Guinness record at eighty-one hours.

The show started at 2:30 on Monday afternoon and will end this Thursday night at 11:30.  I did my first of three sets (originally it was four but I gave up one of my sets due to my work schedule) early this morning at 3:30 am.  I have to ending up being a blast.

There were about fifteen audience members (plus another fifteen comics and staff members).  I thought it was going to be tough trying to entertain a handful of people (who had been there for hours and was tired), but it ended up being a very freeing experience.  I ended up having a lot of fun during my thirty-one minute set.  I did about three-quarters of my planned set and worked in some stories and crowd work.  The set felt comfortable and spontaneous.  I worked on a few new bits and would like to expand on some new ideas that came up.

It really was great practice and fun being part of this show.  Not to mention, all proceeds from the four days will go to the Special Olympics... so its something to be proud of on a lot of different levels.  My next set is tomorrow afternoon and I hope it is as much fun performing and hanging out with comic friends.

Anyway, it is 5:46 am, and I should try to get some sleep before my day job.  Until then, take care of yourself....and each other.


P.S. Tommy's sister is a whore.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Show #8: Sullys Comedy Cellar

The saturday show was way better than the friday show at Sully's.  The crowd was still small but it was a much younger and more of a comedy audience.  I did 27 minutes, and felt a lot more comfortable during my set.  I missed a punchline of a new joke and want to change the order of two jokes...but start to finish I think this was one of my more consistent sets.

This week I'm doing four sets sets during Magooby's 81 hour Comedy Marathon.  I'm doing a half hour each set, which I'm looking forward too.  It's going to be great practice.  More importantly the show(s) is going to benefit the Special Olympics....which I'm definitely down with.  The show is attempting to set the world record for the longest comedy show of all-time.  So besides great practice and a great cause, it would be cool to be part of a world record in the Guinness Book.

Besides those 4 sets, I have a gig at Clare and Don's in Northen Virginia.  I'm also hitting a few open mics to tighten up the newer jokes.  After that...I sleep.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Show #7: Sullys Comedy Cellar

Featured at Sully's Comedy Cellar.  Audience of 25 (17 of them were part of a 65 and over Jewish Singles Group).  I wish that was a joke.  Yeah....That's all I have to say on the issue. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Show #6: 11th Street Lounge

I just did a feature set at the 11th Street Lounge tonight.  It was a small but great crowd and I had a really good ten minute set.  I worked in some new jokes (that went over really well) and some old jokes (that also went over really well).  It was the most comfortable and the most at ease I've felt performing in a while.  Overall it was a great show and a big confidence boost for my cluster of shows coming up.

Hopefully my feature sets at Sully's Comedy Cellar will go as well this weekend.

Show #5: Potomac Grill

My fifth crack at stand up sucked... I did (the very funny) Rob Maher's room in Rockville, Md. I've always had a good time doing this room but tonight there was no audience and a group of people talking at the back of the bar. George Carlin could have come back from the dead and still bombed on this night in that room.

All of that being said, it was still a good experience and good to practice new jokes. I have about ten minutes worth of new material that I'm trying to shape and polish. So any chance to practice it is a good thing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Show #4: Magooby's Joke House

I did an eight minute guest spot at Magooby's Joke House tonight.  It ended up being a really good set and great show all around.  My friend Mike Storck headlined and the very funny Jimmy Merritt featured.  With about two hundred people in the audience and a great line up, I ended up doing my tested/solid material.  I had a really fun set and got really good input from Storck afterwards.

I'm still a newbie when it comes to stand up, so doing shows in front of crowds that big is rare.  One of the things I have to work on is stepping on laughs.  I listened back to my set tonight and a few times I got a really big laugh or an applause break and jumped into the next joke a few seconds too soon.  I need to remember to slow down and let the laughs ride out a bit.  Pauses can sometimes be a good thing.  That's a valuable lesson your Uncle Mike here needs to learn. 

My next scheduled show is Thursday, but I'm going to work on new material Monday and Wednesday at open mics.  Until then, here is a reel from my recent headline set at Harry Browne's.  I picked a few clips from the show that were not already online and posted it on youtube.  That show was my first headline show and at thirty minutes was my longest set to date...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Show #3: The Big Mouth Club

Drove an hour to do seven minutes at an open mic at The Big Mouth Club in Waldorf, Md.  It ended up being one the better sets I've had in a while and I pretty much killed all the way through (including a brand new bit).  It was also a good night for networking because I got asked to do two other shows and hung out with Graham Currin (really funny comedian/screen writer and all around nice guy).  So good times.

I'm not doing stand up tonight.  I have a gig at Magooby's Joke House tomorrow with my friend Mike Storck, so I'll hang out with my very patient and loving wife (almost) in the meantime.  Next week I have featured spots at 11th Street Lounge's and Sully's Comedy Cellar.  I'll probably try to hit some open mics in between to stay sharp.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Show #2: The Resurrection of ODB

Second open mic of the new year went alright.  Ras Restaraunt and Cafe in Washington DC just started doing an open mic in December.  It was a small crowd (15ish) and the ratio was about two comics per audience member.  Every comedian had a rough set.  It is hard making invisible people laugh... and even harder making apathetic bar patrons laugh.  All of that being said, it was a good set overall.

I'm still struggling with one of my new bits.  Part of it is the set up and part is selling the joke... Fair to say, the joke is very much a work in progress.  Highlight of my set was a semi-adlibbed bit which involved reciting Old Dirty Bastard lyrics.  It was fun and got a big laugh.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Show #1

I've decided to keep a log of every show I do on this blog.  I like this idea for a few reasons... First, it gives me material for this blog.   I really enjoy writing this but I rarely have decent material for it.  In part because I'm lazy but also because I don't have the time....and I'm not as creative as I'm given credit for.

I also like logging stand up appearances because it helps me keep track of how often I'm doing stand up and how I'm hopefully progressing.  It will be fun to see how many times I'm actually getting up to do time, and what I'm working on.  I also want to give an honest depiction of what its like to try to be a stand up comedian in an area that doesn't have a lot going on in the stand up comedy community.  

Some blogs will be shorter than others, but every blog will say where the show/open mic/appearance took place and how long of a set I did.  So here is the first installment....

My attempt at stand up in 2011 took place at the 11th Street Lounge in Washington DC.  I've never done this open mic, but I wanted to check it out before I featured at a showcase coming up next week.  There was also a new bit I really wanted to work on and try out.  I did seven minutes, and I have to say it was a very strange set for an other wise receptive crowd of 15 or so.  

My first and second jokes killed, but my tag on my second joke died.  There is nothing worse than having a great joke that dies with a tag.  The tag, a reference to Lethal Weapon 2 (the classic scene where there is a bomb on the toilet and if Danny Glover moves his house is going to blow up) ate a dick.  It was a younger crowd  might have been too young for the reference because it worked really well the other two times I tried it.  I guess I'll have to wait and see.  

My new bit I wanted to work on followed that and died.  I killed it half way through because it wasn't hitting.  I really like the idea of the bit and think it has potential to be really funny.  I also realize it could work better in written form and if it bombs again I might use it as a blog, and retire trying it in stand up.  My friend and comedian Mike Storck tells me to give a bit three tries, and if it flops three times, give up on it.  This bit has two more tries.  

I ended up going out on two polished bits because I wanted to go out on some laughs.  My bit about guys who listen to Maroon 5 are pretentious, wear skinny jeans and have a vagina got a really big laugh. My usual closer that I like to refer to as "Office Date Rapist" helped me go out on a big laugh.  I like giving bits names like that, so one day I can forget my nope book and some random dude can find it.  I love the idea of some random guy in a Starbucks finding my notebook, a series of bullet and going "'Gray pube'!?  'Maroon 5'!? 'DATE RAPIST'!? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!?!"

So in the end, 11th Street Lounge wasn't a bust.  I did drive over an hour to get there and the one bit I wanted to work on failed... but it's always good to get up and do time.  I really do think there are always things to learn and experiences that make us better.  My log/blog entires probably won't be this long, but I just want to paint a picture of the thought process and what goes on in trying stand up comedy.  So until next time... 

Be well,
Mike Finazzo

P.S. Watch The Town.  It's pretty awesome.  It's like The Departed meets Point Break.