Are Stand-Up Comics Losers?

What motivates you to become a stand-up comedian? Is it that you are a loser?

Last week I attended an Open Mic night. This open mic took place in the back room of an improv studio, inside of a mall at 7:00 in the evening on a Thursday. I knew that it was going to be bad before I got there.

The first question the emcee asked the audience was, “How many of you are not comics?” Five of the 20 people in the room raised their hands. He then wondered, “So why are you here?

The first comic told a story about asking his high school teacher out on a date after graduation. Then he stared at the audience for a few minutes. He was high.

One performer paused after a series of bad jokes and pleaded with the audience:

“Why aren’t you laughing?

How could I make that joke better?

…I guess pedophilia‘s not funny.”

The next entertainer ran on stage singing a lively song about watching bad comedy in a mall. Then he confessed that he’d drank four beers during the show. He could tell that his life was on track because this was exactly where he wanted to be on a Thursday night – telling jokes in an abandoned mall. A few seconds later, he became agitated that the audience had “lost energy” and stormed out of the room.

We were laughing at his jokes.

This open mic was an emotional roller coaster for the audience. More than one unstable “comedian” would abruptly cut himself off and berate the audience for not laughing loud enough or at all.

It was awkward.

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One guy did his set in a French-like dialect (?). He was the only comic who completed his set without incident. He didn’t care that no one “got” his jokes. He even politely told us to have a nice evening as he left the stage. He was definitely my favorite.

Hopefully, now you understand why I asked my opening question. All of the aspiring comedians at that open mic were high, drunk, depressed, or [insert uncomfortable adjective]. I understand that this was a substandard comedy show, but all comics start at the bottom. It makes me wonder whether everyone who pursues a career in stand-up comedy is fueled by intense psychological issues.

Obviously, I will attend another open mic before committing to an opinion. Probably not the same one, unless I need something to write about.

I Attended a Seminar! And then I Published a Post about it!

I hit Publish!! After a solid 14 day absence, I finally posted on RAEZYN again. I didn’t stop writing for those two weeks, I kept pumping out jokoids. Regardless, yesterday I wrote a thrilling account of my first time on stage!

As everyone is aware by now, I am new to stand-up comedy. I need guidance: How to write jokes, how to structure a set, and how to avoid fainting on stage. So last weekend, I attended a stand-up comedy seminar taught by comedian Joe Matarese. It was well worth driving 2 hours one-way to Baltimore MD.

I met some local comedians that were not only funny, but supportive as well. I had some time on stage during which I was *supposed* to perform my act (read what actually happened). Instead of rolling their eyes at the newbie from Virginia, the comics gave me some helpful suggestions on how to develop my act and they even laughed at some of my jokes!

In order to become successful, you need the support of your peers. And as it turns out, comics are willing to support each other because they’ve all started at the beginning. Experienced comedians know that they wouldn’t be where they are in their careers without the encouragement of supporters. Therefore, this group of funny Baltimore comedians welcomed me, the confused beginner from Virginia.

On Saturday evening, I dragged my husband along with me to watch Joe Matarese headline at Magooby’s Joke House. Paul Spratt had the guest spot and Ayanna Dookie was the feature. Together, they reaffirmed the fact that I love comedy.

Raezyn’s on the Mic

My life changed last weekend! I attended a Stand-Up Comedy Seminar and my 12 classmates were privileged to behold my premier stand-up comedy performance.

The seminar was taught by comedian Joe Matarese. When he called my name, I jumped up and pranced to the center of the stage. I looked up at the microphone, looming in the stand a foot above my head.

After a moment’s consideration, I grabbed the mic and squinted through the spotlight to see the hazy outlines of my classmates.

I spoke.

Hello. This is my first time on stage.

I don’t have anything to say.

I had nothing. So I started rambling.

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I explained my desire to perform comedy because I hate my job.

I shared my enthusiasm for attending BrickCon and my appreciation for all things LEGO.

I painfully recalled how my dreams of fighting professionally were crushed the day I was beat up by a competitive boxer.

Overly specific details flew out of my mouth and were broadcast throughout the club at alarming speed. As it turns out, I reveal embarrassing information about myself whenever I am on a stage with a microphone in my hand and a spotlight in my face.

It was the smoothest set of my career. Coincidentally, it was the awkwardest, shortest, longest, suspect, winningest, most boring, roughest, intriguing, hostile, best, worst, funniest set as well.

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Perhaps in addition to my notebook, I should carry a microphone and flashlight around with me at all times. I would probably earn a friend or two with my newly discovered ability to entertain on demand. Then I could write jokes about the experience.

I may have perceived those five minutes on stage differently than anyone else in the room did. Regardless, the experience taught me that the stage is not a scary place. The mic, the cord, the lights; they are all harmless. The audience is more terrifying than the stage could ever be.

Notes After Dark

In my desperate efforts to put together a stand-up comedy routine, I have been carrying around a notebook to record every funny idea that I have. I write down everything that even remotely strikes me as amusing. At bedtime, my notebook and pen lie within arm’s reach. This is a brilliant strategy because I am most creative late at night, in between dreams.

One evening, I wrote:

Unexpected diarrhea is the best diarrhea.

Followed by:

But that’s the worst, when you look like your act.

I remember writing those comments down. I remember laughing about them. I don’t recall why. If only I’d had the presence of mind to clarify the joke. It’s been a week since I wrote them and I’m still perplexed. Trying to piece together the context of these statements is fun. Over time, I’ll hone my skills to figure out what they mean. If I ever have to solve a crime committed by my evil alter ego, I’ll be ready.

My last note of the night was:

I’m still more sober than some of you have been in years.

This tells me one thing. I am an unnecessarily mean person late at night. First of all, who am I berating here? I must have dreamt that I was an AA group leader and I showed up drunk to the meeting. This is the only scenario that makes sense to me.

If this is the case, then why did I only write that one line? I’m still more sober than some of you have been in years. Brutal. Once I start performing at open mics, I’ll have to convince the bookers to put me on stage early. After a certain time of night, I become inexplicably hateful.

I’m Too Hot to be Funny

I’m too hot to be funny. This has brought me great distress as an aspiring comedian.

Some of the funniest humor is self-deprecating. If you want people to laugh, make fun of yourself. People find it hilarious when you bond with them over the mean things that they’re thinking about you.

I recently learned that comedy is truth and pain. If you were born with a big forehead or creepily small hands, all you have to do is talk about how much of a freak you are. Then your audience will stop staring at you and start laughing at (with?) you.

Unfortunately, I was not born with free comedic material. My complementary genes, good health and reasonable fashion sense will always put me at a disadvantage. It’s just not fair. My good looks don’t cause me pain in life, but they are a huge handicap on stage.

“Laugh at Me”

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Nobody wants to laugh at the hot girl. Picture this: a 5’3″ tall man walks on stage and asks to have his mike lowered. Hilarious. Look at how comically short he is.

Now picture this: A gorgeous 5’3″ woman walks on stage and asks to have her mike lowered. People get annoyed. Women think, “I can’t believe she’s not wearing heels!”

Another example: an obviously overweight woman walks onstage and asks a guy in the front row if he’s going to eat that last cookie. Mean laughter ensues. I walk on stage and ask the same question. Awkward silence. Judgment. Maybe a “boo” or two.

Why do people find such entertainment in others’ pain? Maybe I could complain that I get hit on too often. Is that funny?