Archive | October, 2012

Touchy touchy…

11 Oct

In comedy everything should be fair game.  Any subject, any person.  The trick is you need to make it funny. And that is the rub.  Recently I had two tweets (Follow me on Twitter at @stumccallister.  Shameless plug there.) that had a little to do with cancer.  The first being ‘My friend told me she needs to get a mastectomy. I found out cause she said she had something to get off her chest.’  If you look at the joke it is CLEARLY a word play joke.  It talks about the unfortunate experience of having your breasts removed but having it done with the expression of unloading of a burden.  No fun was made of a person or the procedure.  However, there were people who felt it was insensitive to those with cancer.  Hmmm….. I am just not seeing it.  I have family members who have died from cancer and more than likely if I live long enough it is gonna get me too.  Just the way it is.  A few people did find it funny.  One said her mom, who had a mastectomy, bought a shirt that said ‘Yeah, my boobs are fake. My real ones tried to kill me!’ Awesome. Someone who understands that you can take something tragic and have a little fun with it.

The other recent tweet (Follow me on Twitter at @stumccallister. Another shameless plug.) said ‘I’m beginning to wonder if Lance Armstrong even had ball cancer. #Liar #Cheater’  Again, cancer is mentioned but cancer is NOT the meat of the joke.  The joke stems from Lance being busted by just about everyone in the cycling world as a cheater and using steroids.  Lance is quite the liar and cheater so how is he to be  trusted?!  So the joke is about how he possibly could even be lying about having had cancer.  Tada!  Again, no joking about cancer but rather cancer is the segue used to get to something else.

I have a joke that I wrote years ago where I ask the crowd if the know the difference between having a kid and having cancer.  My answer is ‘No one stares at you in WalMart when you beat cancer.’  Again, cancer is used in the joke but really the joke is about parents beating their kid.  Inevitably some people will grown and I will say ‘If you’re not laughing at this joke it means you beat your kids cause that is a joke you could tell at church.’  And that usually gets people to lighten up some.

There are other touchy subjects out there that get a lot of press (abortion, rape, etc).  I don’t have any of these jokes in my arsenal.  And that isn’t to say that I wouldn’t tell one in the future.  I just know I need to make sure that it is funny.  Cause you know that people will once again latch onto a key word and block out the funny.

Anyway, follow me on Twitter at @stumccallister and complain about my jokes there.  I love you all. And lighten up.

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Lets give it up for…

6 Oct

During comedy shows lots of things can go wrong. The sound system cuts out, the lights go off, some heckler steps on your punchline, the fire alarm goes off, etc. As comics you get through it cause in the end you just make light of things, make people laugh, and move on.

One thing that happens at comedy shows that is standard protocol is the ‘intro.’ This is what the offstage announcer or the mc will say about the upcoming performer. It is just a way to give the crowd an idea of what this person has done in the past. It will inevitably consist of TV or radio credits. All fine and dandy. In the long run, lets be honest here, the audience really doesn’t care. No audience member has thought “I thought this guy was gonna be shit but he was on the Tonight Show?! He must be good.” If they know the comedian they already know what they have done. If they don’t know the comedian they just don’t care what they have done. They only care about laughing NOW. It really is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ scenario. At times I think that the credits are just for bumping up the comic’s ego.

With this being said, I know I have messed up comic’s intros. I have said a word out of place, left out a credit, just done something wrong. I have even forgotten a comic’s NAME! And this was a guy I knew. Shit happens, your brain freezes sometimes, and you feel like a dick. Life goes on, the comic tells some jokes and the audience laughs. Just like you want.

However there are times when the comic gets pissed that you fucked up an intro. I’m talking MAD. (It wasn’t like I did it on purpose.) And this confuses me, because as I mentioned earlier the intros don’t matter to the crowd. If we were to survey the crowd, after the show, what the comic’s credits were I am sure a small percentage would even get half of them right. The ones who get mad are the ones who seemingly are compensating for their lack of talent. The credits prove their worth and if the crowd isn’t laughing there must be something wrong with the crowd. ‘I’ve been on this show and that show so I MUST be good…’ No Mr. Comedian, it just means you were on a show. Now make us laugh.

And drop your A+E Evening at the Improv credit. That shit is old.

Up, Up, and Away!

3 Oct

I did a bit of traveling last week.  Flew out to AZ to do some time at the club in Tucson.  Not gonna lie but I lost a lot of money on this adventure.  Why?  Because it is part of the ‘paying your dues’ culture.  Part of doing things like this is to ‘audition’ and prove your worth and abilities.  I’m still not sure it was worth it.  I went to MC with the hopes of featuring there in the future. This is generally how a lot of clubs work. You put in time and move up the ranks (even if you have moved up the ranks in every other club already).  It is frustrating to me.  It would be like the CEO of Coke moving over to Proctor and Gamble and starting in the mailroom.  Just because I haven’t done your room doesn’t mean I can’t do the job.  Regardless, it was on me as I accepted the gig.  And I had a GREAT time!  The shows were full, the crowds were good, and I was hilarious. What more could you ask?! Would I go back? Probably not.  It is hard for me to justify losing money on something where there is not at least some financial gain. You can’t keep going back to something with the ‘hopes’ of an eventual reward.

When the weekend was over me and my buddies Grahm Reinhard and Andy Beningo drove on over to LA for a few days.  Andy has aspirations of getting on the Tonight Show and had some talks with some people.  I just had aspirations of getting stage time.  I thought I had some stuff lined up but everything fell through.  I was bummed but what can ya do.  I was kind of amazed at how little time was available there.  I probably just need to research and plan better next time.  It did afford us the time to see some shows though.  We managed to catch the showcase ‘What’s Up Tiger Lily’ which has some great people on it.  We caught Jamie Lee’s set 3 days before she performed it on Conan.  And we saw Rich Hall there.  I saw him in the crowd and thought “Man, that looks like Rich Hall but he lives in England so it can’t be him.’ But it was and my life was better off for it.

We also saw a taping of the TV show ‘The Set List’ which has comics come on without any prepared material.  A topic is shown on a screen behind them and they then have to come up with some material on it.  That concept makes you work quick!  Lots of great comics were on the taping- Rich Hall (again!), Paul F. Tompkins, Hannibal Burress, and Greg Proops to name a few.  Look for it if you ever get a chance.  My buddy Grahm wants to try the theme at his home club with open micers.  That reeks of disaster to me as new guys generally don’t have the chops to pull off good material spontaneously. 

On the whole I found LA to be a LOT different than what I am used to.  And I am just talking the comedy.  The 1st night we were there we went to the Comedy Store and we were only there briefly.  The reason being I HATED what I was seeing before me.  It was open micers just doing this weird rambling story stuff. Not much of a setup/punchline routine that I am accustomed too.  It made me cringe.  Some of the pro stuff we heard was like that and I found it all strange.  It made me realize that I can go into different directions with my comedy (which I probably should).  I talked more about this on my podcast Stu-dio 1534.  It specifically is with comedians Michael Malone, Andy Beningo, and Grahm Reinhard.  Look for it on http://www.archive.org.

And before I put down my keyboard I just need to talk about this ridiculous heckler I had the other day.  I was at an open mic doing new material, quirkier material.  The first joke is bad, and I know it is bad but it plays into future jokes and that is what will make it funny.  It didn’t work though because this heckler kept making ‘Wah wah waaaaahhhh.’ noises at me the whole time. He wouldn’t allow for the joke to unfold.  I just wanted to yell at the fuck to shut up and just listen.  On top of it all this guy was a karaoke singer there.  You’d think he would have the presence of mind to be quiet and let the entertainer do their thing.  Karaoke is the lowest level of entertainment though.  You didn’t write the song, you didn’t make the music, you just parrot what someone famous did.  Usually off key.  Ugh.  No more Love Shack please!

So what have we learned here… Don’t take all gigs, LA is weird, and karaoke singers need to relax.  Have a good one folks.