Just be yourself...I say the same shit to my friends who are African-American or Middle Eastern, who constantly try to pander to the lowest common denominator when they feel intimidated by an audience that is of a different age or ethnicity. Be yourself. Don't use your culture and skin color as a filter, drop the filter and don't be afraid to bomb, sometimes bombing is cool, as long as, you're being genuine and not dumbing your shit down.
To each his own. I think it's silly to think you're going to do the same set no matter where you are. Maybe if you're doing shows in front of the same demographic all the time. But I get up in front of different crowds. Sometimes it's a hipster room, sometimes it's a room filled with foreigners, sometimes it's an urban show, sometimes it's a clean show for a church group, sometimes it's an older crowd, etc. The idea that I should go out and tell the same jokes no matter who is out there seems silly to me.
I think it's part of a comic's job to read a room and respond appropriately. (I'm talking about picking which jokes to use, not changing your existing material.) To me, it's a good challenge to figure out which of my jokes will work best in that room at that moment for that crowd. I don't feel like that's not being myself. Every joke I tell represents some side of myself. It's just a question of which side I want to show at that moment. And which side I think will do best.
And I don't think bombing is cool. I think bombing is failing. The idea that you just stick with the ship even if it's sinking doesn't feel right to me. I think the audience is always teaching you. If you just keep spitting jokes at them no matter what, you're ignoring the lesson they're giving you. If shit's not working, I'd rather abandon my set, riff, and live in the reality of that moment than just be tone-deaf and plow through with jokes that no one in the room cares about.
Permalink | 5/27/2009