Hitting the stage every night

Question from a reader:

What are the advantages of performing every single night? Yes, that gets a person lots of exposure and shows that s/he is in demand, but why is it better than just doing a few shows each week and spending the rest of the time developing new material or networking? Doesn't it get exhausting? When does the madness stop...where does it take you?

Mark Normand is always hustling to do spots all over town so I asked him to answer. His response:

The advantages are practice, practice, practice. The more you get up, the more experience you're getting. It's common sense. Plus, you never know what you will come up with on stage at any given moment. What are the advantages? You answered your own question in your question: "That gets a person lots of exposure and shows that s/he is in demand." What more do you want than that?

Also, you should be working on material also as well as getting up. Write before you go out. Face time is important too but not as important as being on stage. "When does the madness stop?" It never stops. If you really want to be a comic, then you'll be trying to get up every night for years to come.

Good answer. I think the "you never know what you will come up with on stage at any given moment" thing is a big part of it. Great comedy is a conversation with the audience. You can't have that conversation alone.

Sports analogy! Let's say you want to be a great tennis player. You need an opponent. You can't just hit a ball against a wall all day and become great.

And yes, it gets exhausting to constantly haul your ass to shows, watch bad comics, etc. But getting great at anything can be exhausting. You have to love it so much that it doesn't seem like work. Getting onstage should bring you enough joy to justify the effort. If it doesn't, it's gonna be tough to get very far.


Hank Thompson said...

Yeah, this one's kind of a no brainer. As in, the reader who asked that question obviously has no brains! (I kid, I kid)

The daily grind, the hustle, the fact that going out every night to do comedy is OPTIONAL... it all works as a very effective selection process, akin to evolution. Those best suited to survive in a particular environment get to pass on more of their DNA than those with less favorable traits. Perseverance, determination, and follow-through, traits you need to survive the grind.

Or maybe doing this shit is NOT optional for some of us. I was exhausted after a long day of work one day last week and didn't do comedy and I felt shitty about it. It hurt to NOT go. It's become a compulsion, one I hope never goes away.

myq said...

Everyone who is right is right.

But, I will say that I can envision a world (easily, because it is the one I live in) wherein there may be a night that you have a choice between going to an open mic that you know will be poorly attended, say, and going to watch an awesome night of comedy elsewhere.

And sometimes, I would say, you should make sure to go check out the other comedy, because especially when you're developing, it's good to see REAL comedians doing REAL sets in front of REAL audiences (as opposed to just other open mikers all the time in emptier rooms), because that can be a great part of the learning process as well (as well as providing potential networking opportunities, but the main thing is, watch good standup, see how it's done, learn more, but then get out there the other five or six nights a week and learn by DOING... also learn how many days in a week).

And to specifically answer the question of why performing as much as possible is better than doing fewer shows and using the other nights to develop more material?
Shows only happen at certain times--developing material can happen ANYTIME. Always be writing and developing new material for the shows that you are always performing on.

Writing doesn't require an audience; performing does. Audiences are only available at certain times. Prioritize accordingly.

Of course, you CAN perform at whatever rate and intervals that you want. And some people can and do succeed NOT performing every night, but until you know you're one of those people, it's a numbers game. And if you want to up your chances of succeeding, statistically, do it as much as you can.

Or just do it as much as you want. But know the costs and benefits.

And to add briefly to Mark's accurate response to "When does the madness stop?"
... the madness is what it's about.
Don't let the madness stop.

Now get out there and have fun, whether you like it or not.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

Real anec dote of Mark Normand in action: we just had a gig in a bar in Queens. There were a lot of factors working against him, so he switched to chatting up the audience instead of doing bit after bit. It was fun watching him get info from the audience and turn it into a joke. "You work for UPS? I hope your delivery is better than mine."

I doubt he'd have the wit or inclination to push through and have fun with it if he weren't determined to be on stage so often.

myq said...

Word, Abbi.

And see? If Mark had been at home writing, that never would have happened, or if it did, it would have just been him being a dick out of context to a guy delivering him a package.

londin calling said...

Shouldn't this blog be re-titled
"Myq said " just a thought !
Heard you did great in montreal .

passive agressive hugs to you all .

myq said...

Thanks, londin.

(See? I can write short comments.)

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