Thursday, March 31, 2011

Show #59: Illusions Magic Bar

I had a really strong 10 minute set at Illusions Magic Bar in Federal Hill, Maryland.  I needed this after a really crappy two sets last night.  The new jokes are hitting hard and I know what lines to cut now.  I feel like the good ideas and thoughts are now becoming good polished bits.  My new story that I started telling this week is getting a huge laugh... I need to find a way to make it shorter or add jokes within the bit.   Otherwise, the pay off is big with that joke. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shows #57 & #58: The Soundry and Potomac Grill

Despite Rob Maher telling me this would be a great blog, it is in my best interest to not acknowledge this night happened.  I might come back to the stories of tonight later but for now... it is best left untold.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Show #56: The Commons at UMBC

I did fourteen minutes at The Commons at UMBC tonightThis ended up being a fun show with Kevin Brennan and my friend Tommy Sinbazo headlining.  Ten of my fourteen minutes were the new jokes I've been working on the past few weeks.  I'm very proud of how quickly the jokes have accumulated and have become polished bits pretty quickly.  They still have some work to go but these jokes are going to end up being a great section of the bigger picture.  . 

Sinbazo is always great and absolutely killed.  It is always fun hanging out with him and watching him work.   In a related note, if anyone has seen Bill Monaghan... please let us know he is alive. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Show #55: 11th Street Lounge

Something clicked for me during my seven and a half minute set at the 11th Street Lounge in Arlington, VA.  It wasn't a great set.  It wasn't even the best set I've had in the past week.  Including comedians there were only fifteen or so people to see it... but man it felt good.

Jason Weems (if you don't know who he is, stop reading and look him up now) once told me that one of the first things a comedian should do is figure out what kind of comedian he or she wants to be.  This is a very true statement but a very long process as well.  It takes comedians years, if not a lifetime to find their voice.  However, I feel like I've recently taken a step in the right direction to finding it.

I've been getting more personal lately.  The new jokes I've been working on are darker, humiliating and for the most part misanthropic.  Tonight I told a story about something that just happened to me the other day.  This bit (and the rest of the new stuff I've been working on) represents where I want to go with comedy.  I doubt I'll ever be one hundred percent happy... but right now I'm telling the kinds of jokes and stories I want to tell.  It feels really good.

I'm wrapping up my night by watching "How do you know" with my tired wife to be.  This movie sucks hard... really hard.  It makes "The Room" look like "Limitless".  It also makes "Limitless" look like "Casablanca".  It makes "Casablanca" look like... you should get it by now.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Show #54: Magooby's Joke House

I didn't have a show scheduled tonight but really wanted to get some work in.  I asked Irwin Loring if I could get time on his show in College Park, Maryland.  Irwin was nice enough to put me on and I drove almost an hour to the venue.  Sadly, the show ended up being canceled because they (literally) did not have an audience.  I asked around and found out Magooby's did not have a guest spot planned for their late show.  College Park to Timonium is usually an hour drive but  I (not quite legally) got there in forty-five minutes.  You really have to love comedy if you're going to drive around this much.

I got the seven minute guest spot at Magooby's Joke House and it went really well.  My new jokes continued to work and take shape and I opened with a joke I hadn't done in a while.  R.C. Smith and Marc Unger were great comedians to work with and it was a good show all around.  I sincerely thank Andrew (the owner of Magooby's ) for putting me on the show at the last minute.  He truly is a class act and runs the best comedy club in Maryland.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shows #52 & #53: The Comedy Spot and RFD

I did two sets last night. My first set, which was about seven minutes, happened at The Comedy Spot in Arlington, Virgina. I used this time to work on brand new jokes and try out new premises. I'm starting to write more this way. Instead of coming up with an idea for a joke and then writing it... I will sometimes come up with a premise and try to talk it out on stage (in hopes of finding the joke or the punchline). I usually do this with one joke per set. With last night's small crowd, I tried out three brand new premises and the complete gutting and reworking of an old/new joke. I predict that two of these are going to turn into a great bit...

My biggest laugh came when I went after someone who kept going after comedians. Someone in the audience interrupted multiple times and mocked the comics on stage. I got a big laugh going after him (telling him to buy a car and drive it into an “aids tree”). The guy actually came up to me afterwards and apologized for interrupting me during my set. Talking to him only made me more frustrated because he turned out to be another comic. As I've stated before, I don't tolerate hecklers or people who interrupt comedy shows but I understand it (somewhat) if it is a regular bar patron or audience member. A person going to a comedy show is not always going to understand it (though they should) and he/she might not know how inappropriate their disruptions are. If you are a fellow comedian, you really need to know better. I expressed this fact pretty harshly to him...

My second set of the night came at RFD in Washington, DC. This was a great six minute set. I was the last comedian of the night and despite half of the crowd being gone before my stage time, I got big laughs. They were a tired audience that had been there for almost three hours and twenty comedians. I still killed and got big pops with new jokes. One of the new premises I tried at Comedy Spot ended up being a more polished bit by the time I got off stage at RFD.

I'd be remised if I didn't give a shout out and thanks to the very funny Nate Johnson, Ralph Cooper and Brad Ryan for running two very good rooms. I also have to mention the very funny Mike Way as well. Mike (who hosted the first open mic I ever did) is a very talented D.C. comic who is competing in the Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta next week. He did mostly new jokes last night and completely destroyed the room. Mike is a great performer and his writing is constantly getting sharper and sharper. On top of that, he is one of the more genuinely nice people you'll ever meet and very cool to young/new comics (like myself).

I once did a show with Mike and he brought a female friend with him.  During the show, Mr. Way got up for a minute (presumably for bathroom purposes) and left his date by herself.  While he was gone, another woman (who was a friend of his) went up to Mike's new lady friend and said "If Mike Way was a cereal... I'd buy him in bulk."  Can a guy really get a better endorsement than that?  And yes... I know I was eavesdropping. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shows #50 & #51: Potomac Grill and The Soundry

My Fiftieth and Fifty-first sets this year came at two different venues in two different states.  My first set was eight minutes long and occurred at Potomac Grill in Rockville, MD.   Overall, this was a pretty good set.  A few joke punchlines fell flat or did not fit the audience (maybe a little over their heads) but it was a great opportunity to work on crowd work and ad-libbing.  In fact, I got my biggest laughs on things I improvized.  That isn't normal for me... but nice to know I have it in my arsenal.

I followed that up with an eight minute set at The Soundry in Vienna, Virginia.  I found this set to be more consistent and better overall.  Despite a smaller crowd (made up of mostly comics) the jokes went well for the most part.  I used a combination of new jokes and crowd work to get laughs.  During the set, I used crowd work and messing with the audience to lead into a written bit.

Erin Jackson (who is really really funny) once told me to focus on individual people when dealing with a sparsely crowded room.  When a room is empty, people tend to be uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable people don't like to laugh... so it is important to engage them and bring them to a place where they want to have a good time.  This is great advice by Erin and something I have been working on.

Tonight was not spectacular by any means but it made me a better performer.  It wasn't the night where everything clicked... but it was very important to getting to that moment.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Show #49: The Wind Up Space

I did twelve minutes at the Wind Up Space in Baltimore, Maryland.  It was a pretty good set and I had a good time overall.  I need to clean up some of my transitions and sell some of my older jokes better... but it was a solid show.

Sometimes when I'm working on new jokes, I don't work as hard and loosen up too much on my older bits.  I need to stop doing that.  I'm going to spend the next few weeks polishing all of the jokes and figuring out the order of my longer set.  I'm doing twenty minutes or long a few times in April and I'd like to be ready for that.

A special thanks goes to John Bennett and Mark Miller for hosting a fun and quirky showcase.  The proceeds to tonight's show went to a charity benefiting juvenile diabetes.  It's always nice telling dick jokes for a good cause.

I also have to give props to my hetero-life partner Ben Rosen for a great set and pushing me to be funnier.  That guy makes me want to work a lot harder...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Show #48: Magooby's Joke House

I had a good six minute guest spot at Magooby's Joke House tonight.  It was a good crowd (two hundred people) and they responded well to my set.  With the big crowd, I stuck to mostly polished material but the one new joke I added hit very well.

My good friend Tommy Sinbazo did a great job this weekend as the featured act for the very funny Kevin Meaney.  This was Tommy's first weekend featuring at Magooby's and he crushed it for three straight nights.  It was a great to see a good friend do so well and knock it out of the park in a big spot.  It was even better to beat him at darts backstage.

Kevin Meaney also lived up to his reputation as a great guy and comedian.  Like Carl Labove a few weeks ago, Mr. Meaney was an incredibly warm and a cool dude to hang out with.  It was a great learning experience talking to such an experienced comic and a great storyteller.

I will be back hosting at Magooby's Joke House in a few weeks...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Show #47: Illusions Magic Bar

I did eight minutes at Illusions Magic Bar in Federal Hill, Maryland.  Overall it was a pretty good set for a good crowd (40ish  people).  Most of the new jokes hit but one joke bombed and I stumbled into one of my more established jokes.  That joke suffered because of my crappy set up.

I think I'm going to drop my new joke that bombed.  It's a good story that is great in conversation but lacks a strong enough punchline to be a stand up bit.  The story (which is true) is about a girl I know that went on a date with Michael Phelps (The Olympic swimmer).  At the end of the date, he invited her back to his place by asking her if she "wanted to watch a video".  She assumed they were going to have sex.  Instead they went back to his place and actually watched a video... of Michael Phelps swimming.

It's a funny anecdote but a weak stand up routine.  Maybe I'll come back to it in some capacity but I'm going to scrap it for now.  Telling that story/joke did help me lead into another bit that I'm really happy with and it has been killing for the past week.

The comedy night at Illusions is run by my good friend Ben Rosen.  It is a great space and the coolest looking room in Baltimore.  Ben is very generous with his time and does a really good and fair job running comedy night.  Yes.  I am saying this because I know he is reading.  Just kidding.... kind of.

UPDATE: Since I've been home, Ben text me and informed me that a woman in the audience complained to the owner of Illusions about language I used during my set.  First of all... the word that offended her was a slur that I aimed at myself.  I was the sole butt of the joke and no one else was put down or hurt by it.  Secondly... SHE WAS AT A COMEDY SHOW!  What else did she expect to see or hear?  Juggling?  In a weird way, I feel like I accomplished something tonight.

All kidding aside... It isn't my goal to offend people.  Ultimately I want people to laugh and have a good time if they see my set.  Even though it can be harsh at times, I (and I assume all comedians) want people to think as well as enjoy themselves at a show.  However, I do think that you, as an audience member, should know what you're getting yourself into when you go to see live stand up comedy.

Show #46: Potomac Grill

I had a really good eight minute set at Potomac Grill last night.  I worked on the new jokes I had been working on plus one bit I have never done before.  I think the jokes are getting more personal and have a little more bite to them than they used to.  A year ago, I was telling jokes about Tiger Woods and blumpkins (Sometimes seperately.  Sometimes together).  Now everything is coming from a more honest, introspective and hopefully a more funny place. 

Last night I decided to focus more on the performing and selling jokes in my set.  The first two comedians that went up (who are really funny) kind of struggled to get laughs.  The audience seemed to have a shorter attention span and were a little rowdy at times, hence me focusing on selling the material.  I've always said that I am a writer first and performing is still very new and sometimes foreign to me.  Being more comfortable and confident is where I need the most work as a performer on stage.  Selling and believing the joke is almost as important as writing a good joke (if not more).  Last night I focused more on the performing and less on the writing.  The results were good.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Show #45: Hightopps Bar & Grill

I did nine minutes at Hightopps Bar and Grill in Timonium, Maryland.  It was a last minute set and I mainly went to work on the new jokes.  It ended up being a tough crowd and a very frustrating night.

As I have stated many times before, Hightopps is one my favorite rooms.  When not doing stand up, I go there a lot to hang out and shoot the shit with my comedy friends.  Most of the time crowds are friendly and just want to have a good time.  However, like many bar shows... You get the occasional audience that doesn't want to laugh.

Tonight was one of those nights.  Comics that I see kill regularly bombed tonight.  My set got a handful of laughs but ultimately I sucked.  This was a crappy crowd and I'll admit that I gave up before I told the first joke.  That's not a good thing.  People can tell when you give up.  If you aren't into what you're doing... Other people aren't going to be either.

I got heckled by a drunken asshole during my last joke.  I went off on him.  I don't know why I have been going off more at hecklers.  The longer I do this, the less tolerance I have for people who disrupt comedy shows.  I'm not an angry guy but hecklers bring out every stitch of anger I have.  Trust me.  I'm not proud of it...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Show #44: Arlington Grill

I did seven minutes at the Arlington Grill in Arlington, VA.  This is a great open mic and I had a good set.  I screwed up the wording on a new joke and an older joke (that I should retire) fell flat... but two new bits I've been working on killed.  It was a great lineup, a great crowd and I was really happy to be a part of this mic

A big shout out to Randolph T and Andy Kline for running a great room...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Show #43: Potomac Grill

I did 7 minutes (5 were new) at Potomac Grill in Rockville, Maryland.  I focused on three new bits (two were brand new and one had only been done once before) and all of them did very well.  Overall, it was a really good set.  With a little shaping and polishing... this could be a good chunk of material.

It was nice running into good comedians and friends Rob Nelson, Michael Black, Joe Bruneel (fellow Orioles fan) and Mike Way.  It's nice knowing funny folks...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Show #42: Sonoma's Bar and Grille

I did eight (mostly) new minutes at Sonoma's Bar and Grille in Columbia, Maryland.  One new joke did great, one bombed and one is being scrapped altogether.  It was kind of a crappy audience and I went off at a heckler for a few minutes. 

The heckler came up to me after the show and told me how funny I was. He told me that he especially enjoyed me making fun of him and how I did a "great job" going off at him.  I explained to him that I go to open mics to work on new jokes and material and even though I got laughs off me calling him names... it's not why I was there.

For the one millionth time... I hate people that feel like they are "participating" during a comedy show. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Show #41: Capitol Comedy Connection

I did a five mintue set as part of the Capitol Comedy Connection in Rockville, Maryland.  CCC marks my first on air appearance and television taping.  The show was a lot of fun and I had a really good set.  Every joke I told hit and I got a great response.

I did make one mistake... when timing out my set, I did not take in account laughs.  Some of the jokes got bigger laughs than they usually do and as a result, I ended on a joke that I usually don't close with.  Ultimately,  that's a small thing... I still got a laugh on my last joke and had a great set.

Due to FCC regulations, I had to work clean for the first time.  This made me really nervous going into the show but I ended up being funny without cursing.  Cussing is still my favorite sport.  This guy still loves to say "fuck", "asshole" and the occional "c word".  It's just nice knowing I can get laughs without having to.

It was also nice hanging out with friends and comedians such as Ralph Cooper (who started a mosh pit with me), Emily Ruskowski, Jessica Brodkin and Will Hessler.  These guys and girls were very funny and did a great job at the taping.  I'll post the show here when it's available online.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Show #40: The Comedy Spot

I did eight minutes at The Comedy Spot in Ballston, Virginia last night.  I had a good set and worked on some new jokes.  The one new joke is more of a concept than a joke.  It's still a rough idea but it has a lot potential.  Overall, it was a much better set and much nicer room than I did the night before.  It was also nice hanging out with the very funny Mike Black.  Someday, him and I will be friends.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Show #39: Martini's Lounge

I did 12 minutes at Martini's Lounge in White Plains, Maryland.  I went first (with the host doing no time) and there were a lot of sound issues (a really nasty feedback for the first five minutes).  Despite that, it was a decent set.  Nothing memorable.... but it was pretty good.