Performance Critique 8: Jan 19th

This is my set from an open mic on Jan 19th.

This is a different open mic than most in that you get multiple 3 minute segments, and you get a choice of “riff, rant, material or heckle”. Just in case you don’t know, a “riff” is when you talk about a subject off the cuff. At this mic, someone from the crowd throws out a word or phrase (i.e. beer, Obama, celery sticks) and the comic tries to say something funny about it. When you make a comment about the comic that went before you, that’s also called riffing. A “rant” is just going off about what bothers you. It’s usually not that funny, but isn’t your written material either. “Material” is any stand up you’ve written before hand and intend to say again. Riffs and rants can both be turned into material if they’re funny enough. This is the way some comics get all of their material (usually without the audience participation). “Heckle” is when an audience member says something to you while you’re doing your material so that everyone else in the crowd hears you. It can be a joke, an attempt at a joke, or sharing an opinion like “you suck”.

I started out wanting to practice my material for a showcase on Thursday Jan 22nd, but wound up doing some riffing and heckle practice as well. All of my sets for this week were very similar because I’m practicing the material I want to present when a club owner comes to watch me at the showcase. This means that I think these are my best jokes right now. Make of that what you will.

I’m posting 3 clips in one post because they were part of the same open mic. Also, there were about 5 puerto rican comics in the room, so we were all playing off of each other’s material… so don’t think I’m a terrible person for a couple of my references to puerto ricans… but do know that I’m just a terrible person in general 😛


0m10s Don’t start material until after the mic stand is cleanly out of the way

0m15s If the volume feels that loud, get the mic further away from my mouth… this remains true for the whole set

0m20s Wait longer after giving the look of “what, you don’t think I should be a model?” Possibly mouth something to that affect.

0m55s Pause for one second longer after “creature in the corner”

2m29s At most open mics and all real shows, the MC will give you “the light” when you have one minute left. I knew I had to be close to having one minute left and didn’t see a light, so I asked. This isn’t a professional thing to do as the audience starts thinking about something other than what you’re saying. This is less bad at an open mic that consists of just other comics, but is better to avoid.

2m49s What other comics find funny and what an audience finds funny tends to overlap by about only 30%. This pulling out joke is part of the 70% that an audience wouldn’t find funny. If any reader wants to try to rewrite my little improvised joke into something the audience might find funny, I’ll try it out at a real show.

Part 2


0m39s Take longer pauses between punch lines to force the audience to laugh. Believe each punchline is funny. “You don’t send your kids to a spa” (wait 3 seconds) “And when you go on the second honeymoon, the kids don’t get a hotel, they get grandma” (wait 3 more seconds).

0m55s I stumbled over my words. This is why I try to practice out loud at home every day.

1m13s I looked down after the punchline. I’ve been consciously working on looking up after I deliver the punchline. I think looking down is a terrible body language cue that you don’t think your joke was funny.

1m33s I looked down again. I wish I could buy an electric collar that would produce mild shocks in me every time I looked down after a punchline.

1m50s Shock collar!

2m03s Give the audience 2 extra seconds to process “that takes tits” and look around at them, like “why the hell doesn’t anyone say that?”

2m53s Notice how I kept staring at the guy giving me heckling practice after I finished my comeback. Maybe I should just pretend I’m responding to heckles from the audience the whole time.

Part 3


0m24s Look at my hand when I say “the blabber” and maybe let the hand keep talking while I look at it for two seconds

1m45s I actually like being heckled. I’m not saying to come to my show to heckle me, but I have fun with it because I’ve always loved running my mouth and talking trash. What I hate is when people talk really loudly over your act instead of interacting with it. I’ll have a separate heckling post shortly.

2m19s I may have taken the whole improv concept of “Yes, and…” too far

Overall: I liked practicing responding to hecklers. I still sway too much on stage and can’t figure out a way to stop it, and while keeping my head and eyes up is getting better, it still needs work.

Please help me out by leaving a comment about whether the amount of swaying I do distracts you from hearing and processing the material.

4 Replies to “Performance Critique 8: Jan 19th”

  1. Loved the improvised joke at the end of the first video, I laughed at that. Trying to think what could be funny to add to it… Maybe if you stay up there too long the audience has to pay a visit to Planned Parenthood the next morning.

    I actually had the sway problem too whenever I had to make a speech, but then someone told me to just start walking in that direction whenever I felt my hips shift. It fixed the problem but I don’t know if the stages you’re on are big enough to walk back and forth.

  2. Haha that’s a great follow up. I was thinking of a way to incorporate the pulling out on my set joke for a real audience but have yet to think of setup that would resonate with non-comics.

    The stages I’m on vary, usually I can take 2 to 4 steps in either direction without falling off.

    I’ve tried walking before but received the feedback that it was really distracting because I was pacing like crazy. What bothers me is I’m not ALWAYS swaying, so it is physically possible for me to stand still. Maybe I’ll try walking again and hope I can do it slower. My delivery has slowed down, so maybe my walking can match it.

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