Wednesday, 15 August 2018

#84 - When a New Joke Works 08/15/18

I don't know if anything puts me in a better mood than trying a new joke, and having it work. It doesn't have to crush or get me an applause break or anything. Just, get something. A snicker. I don't care. If a new bit is met with any form of a positive reaction, it makes my day.

I hate getting bored of my material. I'd rather try a new bit or a tag and have it bomb, than go on stage and tell the same old joke for the 100th time in a row. But as far as I'm concerned, trying new stuff is also the hardest part of being a comedian. You can sit at home and write all the jokes you want. In the end, the only way to know if something works is to take it on stage and throw it against the wall. If it even sticks the littlest bit, it can be insanely energizing. Because now you have something to work on!

I tried a new joke last night. It was actually one of the first bits I tried when I got into stand up, and it never used to work. I've grown as a writer, though, and I came at it last night from a new angle entirely. I spent most of my morning yesterday re-builing it from the ground up. Admittedly, they were a really hot audience, but the joke worked this time! People laughed at it. And I'm sure when I listen back to it today, it'll be awful. They won't have laughed as hard as I thought they did, and there'll be so much fluff in the joke that I need to remove and play with. But just knowing that somebody beside me thought it was funny is enough to carry me for days. I'll try it at every open mic I hit for the next couple weeks, playing with it and tweaking words. I'm just more enthusiastic about getting on stage when I know I have something new to play with.

Trying new jokes is the most daunting part of being a comic, in my eyes. It's hard, because you just have no idea how people are going to react. Telling a joke that you thought was funny, only to be met with complete silence, fucking sucks. But even if it completely bombs, and nobody makes a sound, you tried something different. And that doesn't mean the joke doesn't work. Keep trying it. Try a different word in the set up, or emphasizing a different part of the punchline. Far too often, a new joke bombs the first time I try it, and I just give up on it entirely. It's a terrible habit that I need to break.

But that doesn't matter today. I have a new bit. And while there's a pretty good chance it bombs the next three times I try it, it worked yesterday. And it has me feeling good today.

Thanks for reading.


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