If you do not know who Jason Weems is... I highly recommend looking him up. Jason, a Baltimore comic and finalist on Last Comic Standing is one of the best comedians working and a really nice guy to boot. When I started doing comedy in February 2010, Weems was one of the comedians on the line up at my first open mic at the Topaz Hotel in Washington, DC. Jason was already a headliner at that point and his career has gotten even bigger since then.
I'm also proud to call Jason a friend in comedy. Since we met, he has been extremely supportive and gracious with his time and resources. Always kind and open to giving advice, Weems has provided a bit of a road map for me in my budding comedy career. The dude became a headliner and legitimate working comedian in less than four s(something I aspire to do). He is a respected locally and nationally and is one of the hardest working people in the industry. He does all of this while gracefully balancing a busy schedule that includes a full-time job as an elementary school teacher, a wife and his first child on the way. The way he balances his life and career is inspiring and one that should be appreciated by anyone in or outside of the comedy realm. With a wife, a job and comedic aspirations... I certainly do.
My fourteen minute set (that featured ten minutes that were performed for either the first time or only a handful of times before) went extremely well. Obviously, there was stumbling. I'm still figuring out what some of the new bits are and shaping them. I told two jokes incorrectly by telling parts of them backwards (switching the set up and the punchlines). I also forgot to tell two jokes that I wanted to polish. Overall, this was stil a really good set. Not my best or most polished, but my deliveries and salesmanship of the bits were really strong and I got laughs on every joke but one (that has been dropped since that show).
I followed up Hightopps with a set at Potomac Grill in Rockville, Maryland on August 3rd. I drove two hours roundtrip to do 7 minutes in front of eight comedians and two audience members. I didn't make these ten people or the invisible folks in the back of the room laugh but neither did anyone else. I will file this set in the "character building" folder.
On August 5th, I did a friday night showcase at Vespucci's in Fairfax, Virginia. This was a very interesting night that opened with a twenty minute performance by a belly dancer. This middle aged woman put the belly in belly dancer and made me feel like I was a lead character in a Christopher Guest movie. I ended up doing fifteen minutes that was made up of a lot of crowd work (something I could not have done a year ago) and I got laughs through out my set. Overall, it was a fun night and I have to give special thanks to my friend Jessica Brodkin for setting me up with the show.
I was at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virgina the following night. This was a really good experience and a very strong seven minute set (which included all polished/established material) in front of one hundred and fifty people. The State Theatre is a beautiful venue and it made me feel like a legit performer. I entered the venue through a side door that read "Artist Entry". I didn't know that telling masturbation jokes made me an artist.
|A classy picture Will Hessler took back stage|
at the State Theatre in VA.
I performed ten minutes at Sonoma's Bar and Grille in Columbia, Maryland. I used this set to continue working on new material. One of the bits I'm doing now incorperates jokes within jokes and has become a four minute bit. It has been getting a great response. I worked mostly on my transitions and remembering the order of jokes/bits during this set.
Despite the jokes still being raw and not polished or in their prime state, I'm getting laughs. I think my comfortability and joke selling is getting better and I am becoming more engaging on stage (I still have a lot of work to do on this but I'm light years past where I was at the beginning of the year). This was a set where I feel like I got by on being a good performer and not necessarily telling the best crafted jokes (something that happens when you're working on new material).
Tonight I did a set at the Red House Tavern in Canton, Maryland. This is quickly becoming my new workout room. I can just kind of show up and do time and throw out new ideas. I did fifteen minutes of the new jokes I have been working on as well as new concepts I was throwing out for the first time. It was a lot of fun.
I finally deleted a joke that I tried out three times and it never worked (that is a general rule in comedy... try something out three times before you judge it for better or worse). I still like the joke but in three attempts... it never got a laugh.
The aborted bit in question talks about wishing I was as excited about anything as my dog is about everything. For example: My dog wakes up in the morning and is excited to be alive. She wags her tail and is amazed by a life of eating, pooping and scratching her imaginary balls. On the other hand, I wake up every morning and am I mess. I'm groggy and tired. The first thing I say in the morning is: "Damn... well that happened again".
They all can't be winners...