Keep Tightening Material

Last Saturday was the first time I got consistent laughs throughout my set. The laughs weren’t as hard as when I Killed (I think it was due to a smaller audience), but they kept on coming.

In comedy, “to tighten material” means “to shorten it”. And that’s what I’ve been doing. The constant laughter in the video is a direct reflection of that. Editing myself down to fewer and fewer words about a topic is one of the most painful things for me (and many writers) to do.

I have an irrational emotional attachment to my words, especially to punch lines that I find funny but the audience doesn’t react to. Although it takes me longer to dump extra words than it should, I have been doing it, and I’m going to continue to do it, even if it feels like I’m murdering one of my children every time I hit the delete key.

Here’s the set:

The Comedy Business: Types of Shows for Beginners

People are always curious how a comedian gets onto any given show, especially a newer comedian. The three main types of ways for getting on stage as a new comedian are:

Bringer shows

What is it: Each comedian has to bring X number of people (between 2 and 15 at most places) who are willing to pay a cover charge, order at least 2 drinks and listen to a lot of different comedians, a good amount of whom are not that funny. There are usually a couple of professionals in this kind of show to ensure that the audience gets at least some laughs.

Pros: You get a real live audience, and since part of the audience knows you, they’re more likely to laugh at your jokes, which may help the people who don’t know you to start laughing as well, that whole laughter is contagious thing.

Cons: You run out of people to invite to shows really quick, the audience can be too supportive to the point that you don’t learn what’s truly funny, and you end up stressing about all your people showing up instead of concentrating on your act.

Barking for a Spot

What is it: You stand outside of the club, usually on a busy foot traffic corner, trying to stop people, hand out fliers and convince them to come watch stand up. You usually stand outside or “bark” for 1-3 hours in exchange for 5-10 minutes of stage time.

Pros: You don’t have to stress about bringing people, most clubs will pay a couple of bucks for each person you successfully convince to come to the show, the audience doesn’t know you so the laughter is genuine, and you learn cold calling skills, which can be useful at winning over a tough crowd (and lots of other situations).

Cons: You have to stand outside for 2-3 hours, you get rejected 99% of the time (although learning not to take rejection personally is good), and if the club has more than one show that night, you’re outside the entire time except for when you perform, so you can’t learn from / listen to other comedians.

Open Mic: 

What is it: You pay $5 for five minutes of stage time. Some places say you just need to buy a drink instead, and most cities outside of New York / LA / Chicago don’t charge you money to get on stage. Actual stage time ranges from 3 minutes to 8 minutes depending on club.)

Pros: Anyone can get stage time and if you plan it out, you can do 2-3 mics a night (in NYC at least).

Cons: Anyone can get stage time. You know those guys that weren’t funny at the bringer show? Well they’re better than many of the people at the open mics (this varies from city to city though). Also, in NYC the only people that come to watch open mics are other comedians, who are not very helpful when you’re trying to learn what a real audience will find funny.

Wanna try stand-up comedy yourself? Consider taking my NYC Comedy Class or booking a private one-on-one comedy coaching session (in person or via Zoom)

More Stand-Up Comedy Tips:

Three Mics One Night

No this isn’t exactly a parody of two girls one cup. Tuesday night, I met up with a fellow comedian, Joseph James, and we got the brilliant idea to do three open mics in the span of four hours. At first we thought we were doing it as a form of self flagellation, but it was actually the most fun I’ve ever had doing open mics. For anyone interested in seeing how jokes evolve over time, this is the sped up version. I feel my New Years joke in particular really evolved from the first time to the third.

Me at Mic One


Me at Mic Two

Me at Mic 3


Joseph at Mic One


Joseph at Mic 2

Joseph at Mic 3

New Camera and New Dates

Great news for all of you that have been complaining about the video and audio quality on my recordings: I got a new high definition 1080i digital video camera. Recordings from now on should be much better quality… until someone swipes the camera at least.


Also, I have three great shows coming up in the next few weeks:

Sunday December 7thRutgers University: Perry Hall on Cook Campus (I’m hosting and it’s free) (map)

Flyer for the Rutgers Show

Thursday December 11th – 10 minutes @ The Grind (free show) (map)

Thursday December 18th – 10 minutes @ New York Comedy Club ($10 cover + 2 drinks) (map)

Come see me live, it’ll be even better than seeing me in high def!

I Killed

“Stand-up comedy is more a sport than an art — like a boxer, you know exactly how the fight went by the time you get off stage.” -Jerry Seinfeld (poorly paraphrased)

“In football, you’re never as bad as you seem, and you’re never as good as you seem.” -Greg Schiano, Rutgers Football Head Coach (less poorly paraphrased)

On Saturday I had my best response from a crowd to date. I was so pumped with how well I paced myself and how many laughs I got that I spent the rest of the night drinking to the point where I couldn’t speak.

The next morning I reviewed the video. While it confirmed that I did great, I noticed a bunch of places where I could’ve done significantly better. I’ve heard top notch professional comics say that if you can get big laughs at 80% of your shows, you’re doing great. My long term goal is still 100% but 80% is the new road marker.

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