I co-headlined Hightopps Bar and Grille with my good friend Ben Rosen on Sunday. I was not very happy with my twenty minute set...
Issue #1: I stumbled through two jokes I haven't done in a while. I have been working really hard on new jokes lately and ended up being rusty on a few of my older bits. I realized that lately I've been working so much on selling and performing the new bits, that I have not put the thought and performance into the old jokes.
Audiences can tell when you're on autopilot or going through the motions. As a comedian, you never want to feel like you're just saying or even reciting a bit. As I've stated before, selling a bit is key and I haven't been doing that enough on the older bits lately.
Also... I should have opened with a different joke. My usual opener (which in my Iphone is labeled 'sponsorship') works great in clubs. It's a slow burn and works well with a comedy audience. At a bar show, you have to hit the audiences hard and fast. You can slow burn on jokes at certain points, but it is important to get people's attention early. If I would have opened with a quick hit, it would have set a different tone for my set.
I ended up pulling a few audibles and changed a few things during my set. This was the big positive for me. Some bits were't working and I went to other jokes that I thought that particular audience would like. I'm happy that I have enough material to do that now.
I got my biggest laughs and reactions during improvisation and jokes that I did not plan on doing. I don't really improv or change things up a lot but it is a skill I'm developing and working on. I'll never be a comedian that flies by the seat of his pants... but doing these things successfully during a set makes me feel more confident about using that particular skill set.
Ultimately, this show was not a disaster. In baseball terms, I went into Hightopps wanting to go four for four with a few homeruns. In the end, I went two for four with a double, a walk and a strike out. Ben Rosen and Mike Moran on the other hand had awesome sets. These guys are good friends and it was nice to see them do as well as they did at that show.
Speaking of that adorable Hebrew... I had a long conversation with Ben Rosen before my show at Sonoma's last night. This conversation with Ben pointed out and reinforced some of the things I've been working on (listed above). It also forced me to focus on some of the positives I got out of the Hightopps show (that were also noted above). This talk really helped me refocus and feel better going into my next set. Talking to comics you respect and admire is always helpful and productive... Not to mention a lot of fun. Ben is definitely in this category of people that pushes me to be funnier.
I feel really good about the twenty minutes I did at Sonoma's. I really tried and worked hard on selling the jokes better. I had a focus and conviction that I didn't have the other night and this helped me engage and work the crowd better.
I stumbled into one joke that I hadn't told for a while and still need to tighten up a few things... but overall it was a strong set. In fact, I think it was my most consistent twenty minute set from start to finish (so far).
Ben raised the point of "If you want people to watch you, you have to watch yourself". As much as I hate watching myself... he's right. With that in mind, I filmed my latest set (and plan on filming all sets now). I know I can write a good joke but my biggest weakness is still the performance part. Having game film is going to help me. There are always going to be things to tweak and fix so watching myself will make the things to work on more clear.
I'm going to get back to work. Until next time... Did you really make it to the end of this long ass blog?