Saturday, June 30, 2007

Comedy Rules of Etiquette

...don't piss off your fellow comedians...

Comedy Rule of Etiquette #1: The "Host - Comedian - Host relationship".

When attending most any booked show, as an audience member, you may not notice the subtleties that carry on amongst the comedians throughout the show.

For one, "the handing off of the mic," like a baton in a relay. You can't just hand it off when you finish your set and jump off stage. You can, but immediately you're telegraphing to every comic in the room that you're an amateur. (And believe me this is a habit I'm trying to work on.) But you need to think of the mic as a very fragile Fabergé egg. In essence, you, as a comic, need to always hand it off with a lot of soft fluffy pillow in between.

Think of it as filler.

The host introduces you, "Hey, and now for your next comic..." [The audience claps.]
Then the comedian walks up to the stage and gives props to the host, "Give it up for your host..."[The audience claps.]

Pay attention, this is what most amateurs miss!
Then when you finish your set, you re-give it up for your host, "Once again, give it up for your host..."

And your host obliges by showing respect for you by giving the audience your last acknowledgment. "[Comic's name], everybody!" [Again, the audience claps.]

By this time, I'm saying in my head, as an audience member, "Alright, alright already. Enough with the ass-kissing. We get it. You're all great, friendly, and courteous comedians." But actually, I don't think it's fair to say it's ass-kissing. Just space filler.

Just in case you missed that, here's the sped up version, the pattern you'll notice throughout the night at a booked* show:

Host: Give it up for our next comedian!
Comedian #1: Give it up for our host! [Finishes his/her set] Give it up for our host!
Host: [Comedian #1's name], everybody! [Host may or may not tell jokes] Give it up for our next comedian!
Comedian #2: Give it up for our host! [Finishes his/her set] Give it up for our host!
Host: [Comedian #2's name], everybody! [Host may or may not tell jokes] Give it up for our next comedian!

...and so on, and so forth...

What I mean to say about the ass-kissing is that I believe it's a falsified notion. In actuality, I believe it's filling the space in time when no one is speaking. It's like radio. Radio stations don't like any dead-air. But this is all just speculation. I haven't done the research yet. I need to ask hosts why they do it.

I, personally, hate excessive and superfluous clapping--like at awards shows. It could be just plain indolence on my behalf. (I don't like having to do more than necessary.) But again, it fits in with the false compliment post I mentioned early. I may have enjoyed the set. But do I need to clap twice to show my appreciation. And what does my clapping prove?

As a comic, when I approach the stage, I enjoy the silence. It lets me know people are paying attention and it's time for me to get "into the zone."

Ahh, the zone! I miss the zone. I used to enter the zone in basketball, soccer, and other sports in high school. And of course you can do no wrong when you've entered the zone. You're in lockstep with that special vibration in the air. It's like you hit all the electromagnetic waves and they do the work for you. The magic just happens and it flows out of you. I can't wait to do this enough times, where I can "enter the zone" on stage. When it happens, watch out! You'll be hooked!

Rule of Etiquette #2: Watch for the light!
Don't go over the allotted time given to you. More specifically, watch for the light! (Again a habit I have yet to ingrain into my comedy persona.) If you go over your time, the people in line after you, now have to wait even longer (the difference of the time you went over by) to get on stage. This "running over your time" can become extremely irksome if other comics have another show to head off to or have a job they need to get to early next morning. My point is, just be conscious of this. And you can even ask, "How much time do I have?" in the middle of your set just to make sure.

Again, I'm still learning. So to avoid this I always try to be the "headliner," which if you haven't figured out the irony by now is fairly funny to be called at the open mic. In open mics, I ask to be last on the list. That way if I go over, no one really cares because they've already their time on stage.

It's very necessary that you don't piss off your fellow comedians. This also goes for club owners, GMs (general managers), and Hosts, respectively. Hosts may very well be your fellow comedian buddy that was coming up the rankings with you at those many open mics you attended.

Rule of Etiquette #3: Stick around after your set!
Make every effort to stay after your set. Every comedian needs an audience to perform in front of (even if the audience is comprised of other comedians). Note: Comedians typically make the worst audience because they're so cerebral and partly because they're probably not even paying attention to you on stage. (They're probably thinking about their own set.)

But once you head off stage, stick around. Say you can't stick around the entire show, but you do have the flexibility to stay a little bit. Comedy etiquette says "3 comedians after you." What does that mean? Stick around and wait until after 3 comedians after you have performed. Simple is as simple does.

* I mention a booked show versus an open mic, which are two completely different structures all together.

Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

All the makings of a comedian...

...mental imbalances and lost souls...


1 bitter or oppressive upbringing with a smattering of no viable emotional outlet.

Mix in nuanced phrases and societal pressures

Sprinkle mental imbalances and lost souls

Stir 'til boils over

Serve Hot, preferably on a warm well-lit and well-mic'd stage.
Serves: Millions of adoring fan and viewers


Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Categorizing comedians...

...Grow a backbone...

I'm not a fan of categorizing comedians. Like she's a "black female" comedian. Or he's a "gay" comedian.
It's smacks of Brown v. Board of Education. Separate is inherently unequal.

So the minute someone approaches me and says, "Hey, you should do our Women's Comedy show," already I'm thinking, "You're comedy show probably sucks."

You're basically saying, "I don't stack up with those guys, so I need to create my own playroom where no one will hurt me." And it's the whole 5th grade "Boys have cooties" theory. Am I right? Do I have any takers?

So you're no longer playing with the big boys. You can't hold your own. If you feel you need your own separate category, you're probably not that great a comedian. The way I see it, you're a comedian who happens to be gay. Or I'm a comedian who happens to be female. That's it. No special category. No special show. The uniting factor is that you're a comedian, first--adjective later.

How many times do you hear, "Man, I want to see/hear some good Latino comedy tonight? Any good Latino comics on tonight?" NO! But you do hear, "Man, I'm up for some good comedy! Any good comedians on tonight?" No qualifiers. No modifiers. Just comedy.

This is the same mentality that the parents of kids on little league teams have---where EVERYONE goes home with an award. No! NO! Little Billy isn't good at baseball. And he needs to know that, he doesn't have to be good at everything in order to exist in this world. Grow a backbone and move on!

I like to think of myself as the Tori Amos of comedy. For those who aren't familiar with Tori Amos and her bout with Lilith Fair--she refused to join the tour because she thought it was limiting.

"I'm not into the all-male, all-female thing," says Amos with growing agitation. "Where's Dionysus? Where's Hades? You can't cut out the testosterone. And we need some pansy-ass people, too, like little camp Hermes. Even though I'm sure some of those women have more testosterone then Hermes," she adds with a slightly unsisterly roll of the eyes. Quote from June 1998 Rolling Stone Article: Her Secret Garden.

"I don't think women and music are going to take the next step if it's got to be a constant comparison," she said. "It's hard to be individuals when you're grouped together all the time, and it bugs me that there's so much comparison going on."
Quote from a 1998 Iowa State Daily article: Cornflake Girl Tori Amos Overcomes The Odds.

I COMPLETELY and whole-heartily agree. More power to her.

And to all comedians... Do your thing, and don't limit your surroundings. Conquer all mediums and platforms. Take them all on, so that no one can say she's the best female comedian, she's the best black comedian. She's the best comedian-->period.

* I only use the spelling comedienne because I think it looks cute on paper. In all honesty, I think it's sort of feminist and stupid. (I personally think any "ism" or "ist" is stupid.) You're placing yourself into a category and in essence into an 'extreme' when you say, I'm an "ist." To me, it's everything in moderation. Except for recreational drugs--- I think ultimately drugs desensitize you from the world.

** Really life should be like Star Trek: The Next Generation, where we didn't really acknowledge sexual orientation, or gender, or whatever other modifier. They were all on a mission, and it didn't matter what they looked like (I mean c'mon look at Wharf-- (And I have to bone to pick with them because he was a black actor-- that's for another rant) They were only divided by what they did--what their position was on the ship, not what they looked like. I know... I know... weak analogy, but it clarifies my point.

Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

Am I angry enough?

Larry David is such a curmudgeon! You know in real life he's an evil-spirited unfulfilled and angry human being.
But I love him. I think he's the cat's meow--well, sorta.

I always say, if you're going to be an asshole---BE an ASSHOLE! Don't hold back. I appreciate honesty and integrity.

You're thinking,

Lucy, there's no honesty nor integrity in being an asshole.

All comedy starts with anger. -Seinfeld

You're mistaken! You cannot be any more honest, than in being a total and complete asshole. There's no fluff or crap to sift through. You know Larry David's not going to bullshit you, he's not going to blow smoke up your ass, he's not going to fill your head with compliments and make you think you're better than you are.

This is what I love about him. You get to the core. I don't like social niceties. I don't like false compliments (which in effect are most compliments.) We all know that compliments are just another means of a playing up to someone to get something you want out of them. That's why I sparingly give out compliments. I'm still, in essence, a nice person. But if you hangout with me long enough, you'll notice that I'm stingy with my compliments. I don't like having to 'play the game.' I don't like pleasantries or platitudes. What's the point?

Here's a great short interview with Larry David on, Sit Down with David Steinberg.

...pleading ignorance isn't an excuse...

My friend pointed out to me the other day, that I'm "too deep."

Friend: When I get on the phone with you, it's never 'how's the weather?' you always start deep, like 'the meaning of the universe is'...

She mentions that the average person doesn't have the capacity for 'depth' all the time. In fact she said, it's too demanding to be "deep" all of the time.

I intensely disagree on two counts:

1) I'm not deep all of the time. I just don't like "small talk." My conversations on the phone usually start out with "Where should I meet you?" or "What time does the party start?" or "When can I get my book back?" Those aren't deep, just to the point.

I don't have minutes to burn (whether those minutes relate to cellular or life... both are precious!)

2) I believe people DO have the capacity for being deep more often in their lives, but are too afraid to get to heart/meat of the matter. Or they never learned that there was 'meat' to attain. But as they say, pleading ignorance isn't an excuse

...I want to make a lasting impression...

I'm pledging to do comedy that gets to the 'meat of the matter.' The sh-t that really gets to me, the sh-t we all ignore. And from my perspective--as a black person---as a female---as a black female--- as an educated black female-- you catch my drift. And I don't want this to be loaded comedy or dark comedy. I want it to open up some eyes, brains, and horizons--and make people think! I want people leaving the venue thinking 'damn, she blew me away.' I want my comedy to be dinner conversation. I want it to be broadcast over radio morning show airwaves. I want it to be the reason for someone to start a cover band or for it to be a theme at the next Gay Pride parade. Yes, I want drag queens dressing in tribute to the subject matter I bring up. I want to make a lasting impression. Catch my drift?



Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

Evolution of the comedy set...

...When is the next great standup going to come along?...

On Home Box Office (which I am allowed another week of, before it gets shut off), a Seinfeld Special, an award show specifically made for Seinfeld was aired. I love anything Seinfeld appears on. If Seinfeld shows, I'm there. (If they would only invite me.) I happened to steal front row seats in my shack apartment to watch Jerry Seinfeld: The Comedian Award, hosted by Anderson Cooper. The guests were Robert Klein, Chris Rock, Garry Shandling.

Here's a clip that is straight out of bootlegger's assemblage.

My impression of comedy after watching this award show has again changed. Not in a good way or in a bad way---just an emergence, a bit of a revelation--perhaps a different glimpse of what comedy really is. Like any other form of entertainment, comedy is evolving. It's constantly changing--constantly morphing into different forms.

After watching this 1/2 - 1hr show, I was inspired. I love to hear the "inside scoop." What are comedians really thinking? What do they think of [fill in the blank]?"

According to Jon Stewart, there's nothing more un-funny than hearing a comedian break down (explain) a joke. But to me, it's fascinating!

Speaking of Jon Stewart, I also saw not one, but two interviews with him. One was more comedic based than the other, so I'll make mention of that comedic one here. (Perhaps I'll mention the other in a later post.)

Jon Stewart, when he's not in character, is soooo charming. Within a moments notice, my pants would slip right off if he even accidentally glanced in my direction. His charm is evidenced in this clip, Sit Down with David Steinberg, a TV Land cable show. [You'll have to excuse the web ads--hey a business has to thrive, right?]

There's another great interview with Seinfeld on Sit Down with David Steinberg. Seinfeld asks the question, "When is the next great standup going to come along?... Where are the guys trying to push us out?"

But at the same time, I remember having conversations with comedians during my comedy runs, and they would bring up the same topic but argue it on a different slant--mentioning that comedy is saturated. There are too many comedians out there. This says to me that maybe you aren't that good, or that your comedy is basic and not though-provoking. Perhaps, you're not pushing the envelope. So in essence, I agree with Seinfeld-- who's comin' up?

It's my mission to be the one to fill their (the great's) shoes.


Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

Monday, June 11, 2007

NYC Nudist

My foray into the depths of comedy, without a map...


Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Completely unrelated to comedy

Okay, okay... I'm allowed one entry a month that detracts from the theme, right? I found this description on Weekly The depiction of this woman really moved me--enough to make want to post it. It's the MOTHER OF SWORDS - MYSTERY Tarot card.

Complex intelligence. She appears to be strong and balanced as long as you don't peck behind the curtain. She will use her intellect to cut through illusion. She will appear to be on top of her mental abilities.

...She is easy to love, but difficult to love deeply...

Her perceptiveness will amaze all who ask a question of her. She runs from the scrutiny of others because she fears judgment from having dropped her sword of intellect into the waters beneath her. She doesn't yet realize that she doesn't need the sword to exercise her keen mental attributes. She will run if you try to get too close. She is easy to love, but difficult to love deeply. She often appears sad and a bit lonely even if there are people around her. Behind her smile are tears. This is someone who would be a great psychologist, counselor, or social worker. Often absent from important engagements either physically or mentally. She is quick-witted and funny. She is completely honest with others even though she will judge herself in a harsher light.
My God if there was ever a description that I could relate to, may this be the definitive quote.

Other notable women characters I greatly respect:

Kate Minola (of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew) [Katherine and Bianca Essay | Field of Essays | SparkNotes| Wikipedia ]

Atalanta (Greek Heroine)
[The Story of Atalanta | Carlos Parada's page | Mythology ]

Feel free to add to the list if you are familiar with any other characters

Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Holy distraction, Batman!

So according to this post, I've established some order. But we all know how much I hate routine, riiiight? It's mundane and ordinary!

Anyway, I have aptly shucked the 'daily agenda' out the window. I will eventually have to work on retrieving it and ferreting it back in the house. But to use the commonplace phrase as an excuse, "Life is getting in the way."

...What could possibly go wrong?...

I've decided to work for this promoter for a comedy club, which every established comic knows is a dicey situation. (Laughable at best!) You, as a comic, are more likely to get screwed by putting way more time and effort than you're going to receive in return. I guess that's just the chance I'm going to have to take. And I think I know that. But I'm a naïve schoolgirl when it comes to opportunity--ever the optimist. What could possibly go wrong? And nothing has gone wrong, yet...

With regards to my natural ability to shirk my duties owed to myself, I'm putting more time into studying. My weakness: lack of discipline and overindulging in one activity while neglecting the other.

For some reason, the overindulgence is landing in the LSAT prep category rather than the Standup comedy. Weird, huh? Maybe because one is more predictable and I'm able to 'control' the results. And we all know what a POWDERKEG open mics are. Ugh! This motivation thing is frustrating. I need time to sit and FOCUS (I can hear Todd Barry's hallowed advice now). I need to focus on nothing but jokes. I do get inspired and I've had a few bouts of inspiration (what I think are really good ones) over the past few weeks.

Game plan: I need 2 hours of focusing on jokes. And then another 2-4 hours of heading out to open mics-- "at least 2-3 times a week." AHHHHH!! I need premeditated, predictable, measurable results from these open mics. It's there. It's here. It's somewhere.

...It's magical when it does happen...

Okay, I digress.
New topic: Comedy Run
Yesterday I had a good friend report back to me about a comedy class he attended 2 weeks ago. He received some solid, solid advice from this class. And he was kind enough to share it with me. I'll try and post them once I get ahold them. To sum it up in one sentence, it's was basically a bunch of wise comedy adages compiled from older more experienced comedian's mistakes. I was grateful.

And last night was jam-packed with meeting people from all over the scale of acquaintances. From meeting people I never met, to people whom I've know for 7 years time. All in a matter of six hours. It was a sort of a rush, but at the same time very normal for me, perhaps even expected. It's never a dull night with me around. I hold that as a promise to whomever gets the pleasure and joy of meeting me. Spend a night with me, and you'll wonder 'how she does it.' I don't even know. It's magical when it does happen.

You (in a medieval accent with a skeptical undertone): What is this magic that you speak of, Lucy? This chicanery?

Me: Well, hold tight and I'll explain.

Here is what ended up happening last night:

6:30 - Study Session at Starbux with Classmate (whom I've only known for about 3-4weeks)

8:45 - New person, whom I've never met before, meets up. Studying slows to a halt and we all chat about racy topics that one normally does not first talk about upon first meeting (i.e. race, politics, religion, capitalism v. communism - one of us is is card carrying communist party member)

9:15 - I made an appt with the local tarot card reader whom makes this particular Starbucks her home-office.

9:30 - My studybuddy also signs up for an appt with said Tarot card reader

10:20 - Studybuddy splits and we (new guy and myself) stop for a bite to eat (pizza) with which you can only buy by the pie (wise business move)

10:45 - We are at the ITU show, enjoy the last set by Leopold Rufus Allen, and meet up with friend I haven't seen in 7 years at the show. We get reacquainted and I meet the two friends she brought with her.

10:51 - We decide to hit up another show, "School Night" at UCB.

11:35 - New guy decides to leave, wishes us a good night, and splits. Long time friend (along with her long time friends) decide to forge ahead (in painful heels) to the UCB theatre.

11:36 - We get snubbed by a cab. LTF is furious and decides to take her complaint the authorities (which just so happen to be at the next corner--what a great city!)

11:45 - We arrive at the show, which started at 11pm, enjoy some really random Improv. But it was FREE, so who could complain?

12:30am - Show ends, we part ways, with a more reasonable cab driver, and promise to meet up again soon... especially when that meeting involves me being on stage... (ugh, no pressure!)

Pretty neat, huh? Well, I thought so.

~ Lucy

Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Strike while the Iron's hot...

An email to a friend:

"Anyway, I've only been doing this comedy thing for about 2 months, as
you can see from my blog. So I'm striking while the iron's hot, while
I have the motivation, and the lack of consciousness... completely
unaware of the self-mutilating that I subject myself to onstage. (I
think this might be worthy of a blog entry.) Basically, my feeling
now is that I've come to a precipice, where I don't seem to care
anymore what people think, nor do I edit what comes out of my mouth
anymore (that last sentence is sorta true.) But I can say that my
ego/id has disappeared. I am more motivated by the message than by
what people think. Perhaps it's the Zena Warrior Princess / Joan of
Arc in me."



Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.

To all my readers -- comment once in a while

Okay, perhaps I don't have ALL these readers, but there are definitely people who check back here often. And by 'often,' I mean EVERYDAY. (It's cool person from KAPLAN in D.C./New York. I'm not blowin' up your particular spot.)

Maybe because I'm not controversial enough. Maybe because you all agree with what I'm saying. Maybe you're a passive observer. Maybe you just want to remain in the shadows and simply watch the inevitable ascent to stardom. Understandable.

I have other passions, like movies, and music. But I don't want to detract from the original goal---muddy up the waters, if you catch my drift.

Anyway, I would appreciate a comment here or there, so I don't feel like talkin' to the wall. You take all the time to visit this web locale. Make your voice heard. After all, I am. Perhaps, that's a moot point.

~ Lucy

Did you enjoy this post? Buy me a warm cup of joe.