I also became a reader around this time, which is so important for a writer. If I read a story in The Atlantic, I would be in a daze afterward. It just meant so much to me. When I later taught writing at the Art Institute, I could very easily spot the students who never read. Their stories would be shit. I would point to their work and then to a published work. I’d ask, “Do you see a difference between these two things?” A lot of students couldn’t see the difference. For them, there was no hope…
I feel similarly about standup. You've got to be a fan to be great at it. I see a lot of aspiring comics at mics and I don't think they really love watching great standup. Maybe they like talking into a mic, but I don't get the feeling they go to shows, listen to albums, obsess over why the greats are great, etc. I don't sense they love this guy or hate that guy or watch YouTube clips or soak in what else is out there.
I feel like you've got to be at least a bit of a student to really excel at any artform. That doesn't mean you should drown in the ideas of others or ape someone else's style. Just saying if ya never input great standup, it's gonna be tough to output it.
Permalink | 5/13/2009