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.
Labels: about standup
Permalink | 7/30/2009