Treat it like a job

After Sunday’s show, a few of us grabbed some drinks and started discussing how each of us goes about writing.

One comment which I can sympathize with was that writing is a “little guy talking to me”. This is what Steven Pressfield would call your “inner muse”. Basically, when you’re sitting (or standing) and writing (or coming up with material aloud), you feel as if it’s someone other than “you” that’s giving you the ideas.

Another interesting thing I learned about writing techniques was most comics there do the standard suggested technique of writing premises down, then coming up with punchlines, then cutting down on words and finding the funniest part. While one comic comes up with punchlines first, then writes the premises. I think I’ll try this method soon to see if it works for me.

The last thing that struck me about the conversation was how a few of the comics put in 2-3 hours a day writing. One said, “If you want to make it, you gotta treat this like a second job.”

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Using New Material

I decided to do a set of all new material I wrote yesterday. Two things I learned about doing new jokes:

1) Try to embed new material in the middle of an older set which you know gets laughs, you can never be sure how new material will do, and if it’s all new, flat out bombing isn’t out of the question

2) Make sure to say your new material out loud a couple of times, even if it’s to yourself to ensure you have a flow, you don’t want the stage to be the first time anyone has heard it aloud

*The comments after my set are from other comics, this is a “writer’s room / feedback” type of mic

One liner day

I received a lot of really positive feedback after this set. It seems that shorter jokes are working better for me. The downside of this is shorter jokes mean I have to remember a longer list of jokes for my set. I suppose as long as it’s getting laughs….

The facetime and the laid vs laid off jokes need to be reworked. I’m thinking of trying, “I don’t understand some of the intracices of the English language. Why is it when you’re a jerk at work, you get laid. When you jerkoff at work, you get laid off?” I’m still not sure how to tighten the facetime joke. I think saying “40 minutes” instead of “40” could’ve helped. Suggestions welcome…

Too Dirty?

“Great job, but you gotta clean it up. Cmon. I can’t have you talking about coming in girls on stage.” Some places will let you know what kind of material you have to avoid before hand, others will end your set early if you say something you weren’t even aware was dirty. 

As you may have guessed that’s what happened last night. I found out while taking a leak in the bathroom that this particular place doesn’t like you to do many jokes about female anatomy or if you’re gonna do them, you gotta go as metaphorical as possible.

Question: Will changing “coming in a girl without a condom… the first night I meet her” to “Not using protection for a one night stand” or “Going raw when you first meet someone” take the laugh out of this bit? Or is even that still too dirty?

Practice and Being Loose

I did two sets yesterday. The first was at Helium: it looks better on film than it felt in person.

Note to self: until you’ve heard yourself say the material 300 times, make sure to practice your full set outloud twice before you get up on stage. While you don’t want to sound overly rehearsed, you don’t want to forget any major setups or punchlines either. 

Helium was also weird in that everyone was in the back of the room. There were 40-50 people there, but not a soul in the first 3 rows. It felt weird hearing laughs but not seeing anyone or even an outline of people. I’d love to hear some tips on how to adjust in such a situation.

The second set was at Raven Lounge, my Philly comedy home at this point. While it was a pretty sparse crowd, I was interacting with the audience really well and addressed all the interuptions that came up. I think it was my best crowd/situational work to date, which isn’t saying too much, but you gotta start somewhere.

[Note: YouTube has a 10 minute clip limit, so I’ve had to cut up my Raven act into 3 parts. The place is really dark, so there’s no video, just audio. I added an image so it could be stored on YouTube.]


  Part 1                  Part 2                  Part 3