Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comic Strip Live lottery and getting "discovered"
Here was the scene at the Comic Strip Live lottery last night. They're going to "find the next Eddie Murphy or Jerry Seinfeld in this group." Good luck with that Comic Strip Live.
Random draw determined dates. How it works: Everyone gets a five minute spot on a Tuesday 11pm show where the owners will watch them perform and give feedback. I guess the best get a callback to do another spot. And then maybe they get passed. Mine's on October 20. Viva advance planning! Talent ranged from people who have never done comedy at all to people who have been on Comedy Central.
Oh, and by the way, you get the date of your spot on the back of a flyer promoting CSL's bringer show. Just in case you wanna, you know. The cynic in me is looking for the angle here: Is it just a marketing stunt? A way to promote bringer shows? A way to get people to bring friends to a Tuesday, 11pm slot that would normally be empty? Or maybe they sincerely are looking for new talent to bring into the room? If so, how come they're the only club in NYC that actually seems to reach out to people in this way? Hmm.
I got a late number and had to stay the entire time. Man, I hated the scene. I hate cattle call stuff like that. 200 comics in one room ain't a pretty site. Neuroses overload. As Mark said, like pigs in a trough.
Funny how everyone thinks they just need a break. They just need to be seen by one person. They just need a manager. They just need to get on this one contest. They just need this or that and then their career will take off. I was there too so I'm throwing glass stones or whatever...but what happened to just being hilarious? You know, being funny every time you perform until it gets to the point where people want to book you on shows or whatever because they know you'll make the audience happy. I know, that takes a while. But this "American Idol" notion that ya just need to be discovered doesn't feel healthy. Seems like it's often the refuge of people who are lazy or delusional.
Anyway, after that I did a spot. First time on stage since Saturday (I was out of town). Felt rusty. Funny how just a few days off can do that to ya. Show was rather strange too. I went up first. Crowd was six comics in front and then the audience in back...and by audience, I mean a table of four senior citizens and a couple of gals in the back row, one of whom would yell out stuff like "You sure talk a lot." And "I came here to laugh." And "It's ok, I like you."
Great. Tried to do some crowdwork upfront but nothing. That's when she yelled out "I came here to laugh." So I went to material. Got some laughs along the way but whole thing was a letdown. One of those nights where ya leave feeling "I shoulda done something different but I don't know what." Anyway, the night got even worse for comics (surprise: she started talking even more!) so I guess I should be thankful.
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The room definitely had a "when my number comes in" feel to it, but I'm not as cynical about it as you are.
Maybe that room didn't have an Eddie Murphy or a Jerry Seinfeld in it, but I bet we both think that the room had at least a handful (and maybe more) of Laurie Kilmartins and Dan Naturmans. Those are people it is in a comedy club's interest to get to know and to grow with. If it can do that at the same time it promotes its bringer shows, well, the Strip is a for-profit business. You don't get angry at a magazine for having advertisements mixed in with the articles.
I've never seen that much desperation in my life, but it's nice to know I'm not alone.
At best you get mixed into what is probably going to be a clogged rotation of people passed at the club and perform once or twice a week late nights and work your club muscles and at worst you'll get feedback from industry professionals.
And while a lot of those people at the audition last night rarely do mics or shows, it'll make those of us who do work hard look better. Experiences like the one we had last night at that show are great preparation for what might be a crazy audition.
They make really good fries at the Comic Strip. I recommend them.
"You don't get angry at a magazine for having advertisements mixed in with the articles."
But my friend Dave DOES get angry at the Cheesecake Factory having advertisements throughout its menu.
And I think that's a more apt comparison.
A for-profit comedy club DOES (or should) already make money on its non-bringer shows.
And there are many successful clubs that work with new talent, DON'T have bringers, and still thrive financially.
Bringers are not a necessity, and I think it's fine to be mad at their existence.
PS As far as the "notion that ya just need to be discovered" being "the refuge of people who are lazy or delusional"...
I think it's "lazy AND delusional," or at least "and/or."
It's like if the NY Yankees or Dallas Cowboys invited athletes to try out for their team... but ONLY if they bring 5 paying people to watch them try out.
(Re: the Comic Strip) You're right, it was like a cattle call and you could cut the pretentiousness in the room with a knife.
I thought it was fun running into a lot of comics I know and really like.
No magic is going to happen. No substitutes for hard work and time.
...gotta admit though, I've never seen 75% of those people in my life. Where do all these comics come from?
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