Too much stage time makes you boring

So yeah, get as much stage time as ya can. We all know that. But I do think there's something to be said for having a life too. The best way to be an interesting performer is to be an interesting person. And the best way to be an interesting person is to have an interesting life.

In NYC, you can spend all your free time bouncing around from show to show, mic to mic, getting multiple spots a night, attending shows, etc. And while that certainly helps you, it comes at a price: You stop living a normal life. You don't have normal friends. You don't have normal experiences. You're just around the same people at the same venues doing the same things all the time.

And that's bad for a comic. If your whole life becomes an insular bubble, it hurts your ability to relate to the outside world. You turn into the equivalent of a rock band that writes songs about how tough it is being on the road. Yawn.

I like to make a point of taking nights off and hanging with civilians. 1) It's fun and helps me maintain my sanity and 2) I've found it's even good fuel for my standup too.

A lot of my fave bits have come not from a writing session or experimenting onstage but from a good conversation with a close friend. One who's not a comic and doesn't feel any pressure to be "on." Have a genuine conversation with an interesting person over drinks for a couple of hours and you're bound to get some good bit ideas out of it. (Don't forget that notebook.)

In fact, it's kind of become the holy grail for me. If I can take a real topic from a real conversation and turn it into a bit that I do onstage, it feels like a real victory. You hit a sweet spot when you do that. If your conversation with an audience is like your conversation with a close friend, you're a lot more likely to get them on your side. You don't have to pretend that what you're talking about is interesting. You don't have to manufacture anything. You're onstage and you're genuinely speaking about what you also think/talk about offstage. And that brings a whole different energy, tone, and openness to a performance.

I'd argue there's also a lot of value in taking time off to do other stuff like traveling or going to see other kinds of art/performers or having a relationship or anything else that gets you out of that "my whole life is about being a comic" rut. Plus, you get to actually live a life which, ya know, is a kinda worthwhile thing to do anyhow.


Abbi Crutchfield said...

I agree with Matt. Talking about owning a dog and actually owning a dog are two different things. And let's be honest, by merely talking about it, you never learn to properly cook it.

myq said...

I don't know, Matt.

No matter how many shows you do, you still have to eat, so you'll always have hilarious observations that you can make about various restaurants, waitstaff, people in line in front of you or behind you (or next to you, if they're edging up trying to jump ahead of you), etc.

And you'll always need to sleep and wake up, and these are topics that can be great fodder for standup material as well (for example, you can talk about how you hate one and love the other, but I won't decide which is which for you, so you get to be an individual with a unique perspective). Plus, when you sleep, you dream, and in your dreams you can do ANYTHING (hopefully, unless you're a boring dreamer like me, in which my dreams are all very real life-like, or I don't remember them at all, like my real life).

Oh, forget to mention going to the bathroom--with all that eating, you'll also have a goldmine of material waiting for you just a short time after each eating session (literally, if you've ingested gold either accidentally or on purpose like in that David Cross joke--so you can't have that one, but there are plenty of other opportunities to be had, think about other metals you could consume, for example).

And if your shows go really well, you might get to have sex, and then you can talk about that sexual experience the next night, ensuring that that person probably will leave you alone again so you can impress the NEXT girl or guy or third option to make this a joke.

So, I'm totally opposed to the idea that having a real life outside of comedy is necessary--see? That's the whole reason I'm typing all of this instead of living my life. My life is comedy! It's all right! You can make any topic funny! Remember Louis CK talking about airplanes? It's fine! Real life unnecessary.

Just kidding, everyone. Matt is right. You don't need to get stagetime ALL the time. Sometimes blogtime is plenty. For example, I'm typing this while at my friend Zach's house and we're about to have a dinner interaction (dinneraction), so I get the best of both worlds: comedy and reality.

If you read this whole thing, thanks! And I hope you can have a real life conversation about it with someone which will lead to your creating more jokes for you to use on stage in the future.


Mo Diggs said...

Hope you use that JFL clout to make Dinneraction a show, Myq.

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