Comedy Predictions for 2011

…also know as, “what I didn’t do in 2010 that I will again attempt this year”.

Looking back at 2010, I would say it was a good year for me in terms of comedy. But facts are facts! Let’s take a look back to this post I wrote around the same time last year and compare notes (these were my comedy resolutions for 2010):

  • Create two 30 minute sets. – I don’t think I got to two 30 minute sets, but I do have one 30 minute set that I like a lot more than last year. I don’t think I generated the kind of material to reach this goal, and spent most of the year polishing bits and throwing out large chunks of material as stronger stuff emerged. I recently went back through my old comedy journals and am trying to resurface some old material in a new light. This has been going well, but still probably around 15 minutes shy of two sets.
  • Update – Done, although after I did it that time I never updated it again. 🙁
  • Blog more.  – FAIL!
  • Do comedy in LA, NYC, and Phoenix. Get a spot at the Tempe Improv so my family can come see me do comedy in my home town. – I did not get to LA or NYC this year (boo). I blame my “day job” for some, but not all, of this failure. I did go to Costa Rica though but there are no comedy clubs there that would book me. I did comedy in Phoenix and my family did indeed come see me but it was at the Ice House (ice rink bar) in Phoenix and not the Tempe Improv. Oops…
  • Finish a comedy project that isn’t standup. Some kind of sketch or script or something. – I worked on this a lot in September but never got to writing a screenplay. I signed up for a screenwriting class that starts in two weeks though.
  • Continue writing at least once a week. Preferably more. – For the most part I did keep this up, so yay me here.
  • Produce a comedy show. – It wasn’t the “comedy show” that I was looking for when setting this goal, but I did do a “2010 Year in Review” at Laughs right before the new year where I made some custom content and booked a bunch of the performers, so we’ll call this one achieved.
  • Start up a new writing group which encourages people to be better, preferably better in a way that I like so open mics are more enjoyable for me. – I started writing with a friend, Eric Uthus, on a weekly basis and he is showing marked improvements. Not so much in his jokes, but he is less negative when it comes to how he approaches his topics. Open mics have become even more annoying…
  • And as always, get funnier.  – Debatable…

So ya, ok year. Could have gone better; could have gone a lot worse. I think the major happening of this year was my struggle to define what form my “nerd” humor was going to take. There were many gigs where I thought the cerebral stuff that I found funny was going to make it and other nights where I was like “what the fuck am I talking about, these people must think I’m crazy”. Unfortunately the latter happened more than the former. There were those nights though where the audience “got it” that kept the illusion that these jokes were working alive longer than they should have. Most of the time, I would have a set do fine, until I reached the portion of jokes that talked about “Harry Potter” and “Back to the Future” where the energy was sucked out of the crowd. A couple times of this and I then mentally started calling this the weak part of my set and began to expect it. So I started trying to prop up this jokes with stronger “normal” jokes around it. Eventually, around October, I dropped almost all the nerdy stuff from my act and just did my old set circa 2009, with much better results.

I was happy, but I was upset. Why can’t I talk about the stuff that I care about, the nerdy stuff, and not have it be so weak? The problem, I found after removing the jokes from my act for a while, was that they were really poorly written jokes. They just weren’t that good, and on top of that, wasn’t something that resonated with many people. I went back and thought, “what is it about these nerdy topics which everyone can get?” Even if they haven’t seen “The Lord of the Rings” is there something about the struggle for building an identity, or at least not getting beat up in high school, that ever person could understand and find funny. If you’ve seen the movie, even better, I’ll throw something special in there just for you.

Since approaching the material this way, I’ve been able to reintegrate a lot of these topics back into my act without the lull that followed them, and I’m happy about it. It’s also caused me to define my voice a heck of a lot more, as my opinions about topics are coming through more clearly with this kind of focus. Another thing about presentation style that I learned this year was that my face and voice are very expressive and engaging when I commit to the material. I found on my sets at the end of this year that I was hamming up jokes that I knew would go well. I was watching videos thinking, “I look like a big muppet”, I should do that more often. It was entertaining and people responded to it much more than the same joke earlier in the year. Now I just have to figure out how I can commit myself to my material faster (like at the open mic when I’m first trying it out).

So Brian, I thought this post was supposed to be about 2011. You’re right my friend, but you have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going. And stand-up is all about context.

Ok so here is what I think 2011 will bring for me and my fellow Seattlites as far as comedy is concerned:

  • I will have two 30 minute sets. More specifically, I will be able to talk on stage for upwards of an hour but I still won’t be ready to headline a show. Most of the second 30 will not be my best material, but I could do it in a pinch. (Look, much more reasonable goal than last year).
  • I will write an amazing and reliable closer. The definition of “amazing” is TBD. 
  • I will complete my alternative comedy project such as a screenplay or series of skits. A series of YouTube video submissions will also qualify as fulfilling this goal. 
  • I will again attempt do comedy in NYC, LA, and Phoenix. 
  • I will create a comedy show “Nerds of Comedy” (working title) that will allow me and my fellow nerd comics in Seattle the ability to talk about stuff in front of an audience that gets it. I will then try to sell this to ComicCon so I can get in for free this year. 
  • I will consolidate this blog and my website under a new WordPress blog (at that I update more than once a year. 
  • I will put up another YouTube video for all of my friends that are complaining that I don’t have anything on YouTube for them to watch. Alternatively, I will find a way to post videos on my blog that the entire internet doesn’t have access to.
  • I will try to be less snarky at open mics. The definition of “snarky” is TBD.
  • I will try to commit to the new jokes with the same energy I give to the proven material.
  • And as always, get funnier.

Ok 2011, let’s do this!