I find that the best way to find comedy material is to catch things I find myself reacting to whether in conversation with others, conversations with myself, or even emails I write. I have a series of questions below to help you remember things that had an impact. I’m sure if you have an intense reaction to anything in your day you can make it funny. How? Write about it for ten minutes or talk about it for five. It might not be hilarious, but it might open the door to a few laughs. You might want to try writing and or talking about any of the below topics to yourself as well as to a friend (i.e. have a conversation or maybe even write a letter). I find the comedic voice comes out best when communicating.
- What made you angry today?
- Who was rude to you today?
- Who was nice to you today?
- Who was an asshole?
- Does bad language bother you? Why?
- Or if not, why is your mouth so filthy?
- What did you see today?
- Did you learn something new? If yes, tell the rest of us. If no, what were you doing all day?
- What would you have liked to say today that you didn’t have the chance?
- Did you start the day being excited about anything?
- Did you have any memorable conversations?
- How do you feel and why?
- Who are your enemies and how do you fight them?
- Did anybody catch your eye today?
- Did you talk to them? What did they say?
- Did you see anyone that looked really ugly? What made them ugly?
- Did you talk to yourself in the mirror today?
- Did you have any conversations that really bothered you?
- Did you have any conversations that got you so excited you couldn’t shut up?
- Describe the state of the world today in no more than three sentences.
- Who did something stupid today?
- Who did something amazing today?
- Who impressed you?
- Who disappointed you?
- What went flawlessly today?
- What ruined your day?
- What saved your day?
- Any songs stuck in your head?
- Any people stuck in your head?
- Any pieces of dialogue stuck in your head?
- Read anything that bothered you?
- Did you say “oh shit” at any point during the day? What was it in reference to?
Take that, Master of Magneticism. Performed at the SuperEgo Open Mic at New York Comedy Club.
Here’s some choice segments from a standup set I tried at SuperEgo’s December 24th open mic at Broadway Comedy Club. I have deleted out for my benefit and yours my constant checking of my notes as well as other elements which may have cast me in a bad light.
I really enjoy doing standup and I think it’s one of those things that take a lot of time of actually doing it as opposed to studying how to do it. It’s such a brief art form and reliant on the audience that I I just have to do it. Over and over again. The open mics can be painful when you forget what you say or don’t get laughs but these failures–I HOPE–help me develop a thicker skin as well as a technique.
I’ve found out that I have more fun developing an “idea” of what I want to do as opposed to a script. The “idea” has to be detailed and rehearsed a few times, but I find if I try to memorize jokes, I get on stage and just recite jokes. It looks and feels stiff. if I go up there with a little bit of danger and room to breath I can “be in the moment.” I can think while I’m performing as opposed to just remembering. But this also gives me a larger chance of having nothing to say once I’m in front of people. It’s like life.
Wow, this youtube video description is really pompous.
Here are some clips of me working out some standup bits at open mics. I make fun of such sacred things as The Bible, President Obama, and Facebook.
I performed this open mic set at Superego hosted by Dale Sorenson and Michelle Dubrawsky. I’m still etting my feet wet with stand-up. In this set I told myself I wouldn’t try to memorize any jokes. In past sets I’ve felt that when I write out a set and try to memorize it for wording and timing it looks like I’m reciting a book report. I wanted to be more natural. So, this time I just scribbled some brief ideas and ad-libbed/improvised my way through it. I think kind of “discovering the set” as I’m doing it helped a lot. But can that naturalness then be reproduced? That is the question.
I didn’t realize the campaign flyers would take up the whole set.
Dear Acting Diary,
Above please check out a video of me at an open mic last night at The New York Comedy Club with SuperEgo Comedy. I had a lot of fun. I was pretty nervous, a lot more than when I when I’m usually on stage. I noticed being nervous made me hunch a little and wave my arm around a lot. Maybe I’ll be known as that “Stand-Up Who Waves His One Arm Around.”
If you’re looking for a list of open mics in New York, I found this list: http://www.badslava.com/nyc-open-mics.htm
To prepare my set I basically did a mental inventory of things I had been joking about recently in conversations, as well as things I caught myself being afraid to say in public. The set wasn’t totally written out but I mapped out all the jokes and kind of phrased them as I went along. I kind of wish I had written them out. I felt phrasing them on the fly led to some awkward speech and swallowed words.
I got this idea today: Al Pacino, Job Counselor. I’m dealing with some allergy issues, which might help with the impression.
A couple weeks ago I was bored at work and thought it would be hilarious if Jeff Foxworthy instead of doing “You might be a redneck” jokes did “You might have a bad back” jokes. At the time, they sounded hilariously similar (to me).