I'm gonna shift back to comedy for a blog today, and talk about bombing. Which is a topic I know quite a bit about *blows on knuckles and rubs them on my shirt*
Bombing's part of the job. And it's weird, because I think for a lot of people that have never tried stand up comedy, the idea of bombing is the most terrifying part. Who hasn't made a joke around their friends, and had it completely miss? Everyone looking at you, and it's awkward, and you have admit it was a joke or try to save it, and the more you try to save it, the worse it gets, and....ugh....
Well, imagine that, but instead of sitting in a car with two of your friends, you're standing on a stage in front of a bunch of strangers. And instead of turning the music up to try and move on, your only option is to keep making jokes and try to fix it. Now, imagine that the joke you told to try to fix it missed the mark even harder than the first one did. Rinse and repeat. That's bombing, folks.
It sucks. Before I tried stand up, I read about a million Advice for new comedians blogs and reddit discussions, and one of the most frequently asked questions was, "How do you deal with bombing?" And the common answer (that I totally understand now) is, "you just learn how to handle it with experience." The bottom line is that anyone that does stand up is going to bomb. It's inevitable. And the only real way to earn how to handle it is to go through it yourself. Over and over again.
I recently said on a podcast that learning to be a comedian is like learning how to drive. You can read about it as much as you want. In the end, you have to experience it for yourself. Bombing sucks, but the only way to get better at dealing with it (and to learn how to do it less often) is to get up there and make an ass out of yourself. It's often said, "you learn more from losing than you do from winning". That 100% applies to comedy.
Bombing will make you a better comic in so many ways. Primarily, you learn that it isn't the end of the world. I've seen everyone from first time open mic comedians all the way up to touring headliners bomb. It's not that big of a deal. You just get up, dust yourself off, and climb right back on stage. Once you get over the fear of bombing, you level up as a comedian. It's that simple.
And once you're not scared of bombing, you get more comfortable trying new things on stage. That's the only way to grow and expand your skill set as a comedian. You have to be willing to try things. Sometimes they'll work, and sometimes they won't. You'll learn what your strengths are, and you'll be more willing to try new jokes and premises on stage. And if they bomb, who cares?
I had an old acquaintance of mine ask me about trying stand up a couple weeks ago. He asked if he should take a class, or what he should do to prepare. And I told him the same thing everyone told me. Don't worry about anything except doing it. Just write a few minutes of jokes, and get up there. He said he's worried about bombing, and I told him it's just like getting over the fear of falling when you're learning how to ride a bike. You just have to suck it up and get over it. You'll probably bomb. Just embrace it, baby.
And if you have to, search "comedian bombs" on YouTube. It makes me feel better sometimes.
Thanks for reading.