I have a tendency say things sometimes which seem to severely tick some comedians off.
Here’s an example:
If a comedian is unable to generate an average of 18+ seconds of laughter each performing minute, they are not performing at headliner level, which directly affects their upward mobility and opportunities as a comedian.
Note: I did not set this performance standard.
You will notice that many comedians who are unable to achieve or work towards reaching this benchmark always seem to have an excuse for why their performances didn’t rock the house, such as:
1. The audience was stupid and/or didn’t get my sense of humor. This absolutely stupid excuse is more common than you could imagine and it’s not different than blaming the basketball because it didn’t go into the hoop after a shot.
It’s not the audience’s job to work to “get” a comedian’s sense of humor.
Audiences are what they are and expect to be entertained. A comedian makes the determination they have the ability to entertain an audience and take 100% responsibility for that decision when they take the stage.
This sort of excuse is directly related to a lack of talent and/or skill to develop and deliver stand-up comedy material that works with consistency.
2. I can’t seem to get a break in this business. If a comedian can’t reach the level where they can deliver stand-up material at 18+ seconds per performing minute…
There are few “breaks” to be had in stand-up comedy for comedians who can’t reach the laughter levels comedy agents, bookers, comedy club managers, etc. REQUIRE to hire out stand-up comedy talent.
And there are also fewer breaks overall to be had if a comedian can only perform an “adult” show in the comedy club market — which automatically knocks that comedian out of working in virtually every other well-paying stand-up comedy market (corporate market, wedding entertainment, funny DJ/Event host, conventions, cruise ships, etc.)
Now anyone who wants to suck with extreme passion, intense motivation AND get a shot at record deal because of funny singing, they may want to study this guy (who DID get a record deal — I really admire his courage and drive):
3. I’m going to do what I do and screw the audience. This is the ultimate cover for a persistent lack of comedy talent and skill.
At this point, I suppose the goal is to become an underground comedy living legend without actually having to be funny because the “message” they have is so powerful that the laughter generated is actually magical telepathic laughter — yes, it’s just that intense.
Then one day audiences will somehow openly appreciate their sense of humor with actual audible laughter instead of telepathic laughter (which can on occasion include gnashing of teeth) and will embrace them lovingly with open arms, cheering praises of their extreme talent…
Nope. I have just described many comedians who can only serve up dick jokes and/or “cutting edge” material that doesn’t actually generate big laughs with any real power or consistently.
Trying to stand behind freedom of speech as a shield is kind of lame, especially since audiences also have the freedom to reject, ignore and not respond to what a comedian has to offer an audience in the way of comedy entertainment.
Stand-up comedy is much like golf. When it comes down to taking a swing, it’s the golfer, the club, the talent of the golfer and the ball. That golfer is now 100% responsible for what happens with that ball and the number of strokes it takes to get that ball in the hole.
He can’t blame the other golfers or the ball if a shot or round is poor. It boils down to individual talent using the right club to get the best results from hitting that ball with skill. It’s between the golfer and the ball.
In stand-up comedy, it boils down to the comedian, a microphone and the audience. Once they take the stage, that comedian is now 100% responsible for what happens with that audience. It’s between the comedian and the audience sitting before them.
He/she can’t blame the other comedians or the audience if his act doesn’t generate sufficient laughter.
It’s all about individual application of talent and skill at this point, using a microphone to get the best results and killing the audience at the highest possible level.
But as I say in many of my articles on this blog…
Don’t take my word for it. Go to ANY stand-up comedy open mic night — comedians at all levels usually participate in these for stage time.
Watch what happens with the audience once a comedian has hit the stage and when they are done, you be the judge if that comedian had the talent and skill to effectively entertain that audience at a high level.
Ask every comedian performing at the open mic you can this question:
“Does your stand-up comedy material work most of the time?”
Then, just listen and watch the excuses start pouring out of most of the comedians you talk to — there will be many more excuses than I have listed here.
Excuses are NEVER a formula for success.
Slaying audiences with undeniable talent and razor sharp skill will ALWAYS be a formula for success as a stand-up comedian.
And there are few things on the planet as rewarding as slaying an audience and causing them to laugh so hard it hurts.