Hey. I’m Matt Ruby (email@example.com). I live in Brooklyn and I'm a standup comedian and the creator of Vooza, a video comic strip about the tech world. This is Sandpaper Suit, a comedy blog about standup, filmmaking, and whatever else I feel like talking about. Established 2006. Phew, that's a while.
In The Cult of Originality, cartoonist Nina Paley writes, "We can’t know what’s original. We can only know what’s honest."
In my case, if something seems obvious and true, but I don’t see it reflected outside myself, then I try to manifest it. If I find myself arguing a lot, getting angry and angering others while simply telling the obvious truth, then I suspect whatever idea I’m speaking for would be better expressed in art. My most successful, “original” artworks were all ideas I’d discussed with others ad nauseum (the other parties’ nauseum, since they couldn’t see what I saw and rejected the concepts in conversation). Yet no matter how much others insisted said ideas were stupid, or crazy, or not worth thinking about, the ideas continued to press themselves on me as true. I wouldn’t need to give them a voice if I could hear them outside myself.
Seems like a good basis for what to talk about onstage. If you're constantly arguing for something that seems obvious to you but not to others, bring it to the stage.
Good advice on getting a tape that I heard from another comic: Never just launch into the material that you're trying to get on tape. Riff on the room or do a couple other jokes or something else just to loosen up and get a few laughs. Then take a pause and dive into the set you're wanting to capture as if you're just starting it. No one who watches the tape is gonna care (or even know) once you edit out the other stuff. And now you're starting with some momentum instead of starting from scratch.
In "Think Like A Fan," Twitter's Head Of Music talks about how Drake, Jimmy Fallon, and Kid Rock have gotten traction by using that mindset. And he even quotes Maya Angelou.
Maya Angelou said this “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” They never forget how you make them feel.
Seems like good advice for a standup set too. Laughs per minute might not be as important as the feeling you leave 'em with.
It occurred to me the other day that academics and businessmen are the opposite of standup comics in a way. They're always puffing themselves up. Dropping fancy job titles, where they got degrees from, trying to sound smart/impressive, etc. Meanwhile, standups lead with what's wrong with them. How they're fat, bald, lazy, depressed, neurotic, etc. They do it that way because they know these things build empathy and connection. They get the audience on your side. Once you do that, you can go wherever you want with them.