In Death by Microphone, local Brit and barbecue blogger Gavin Cleaver attends stand-up comedy classes at the Dallas Comedy House and reports back for our amusement and education. Check back next week to revel further in his failure.
The showcase thing, in which I'm actually appearing in front of an audience, is extremely soon. Like everyone else with deadlines, I have spent a long time completely nonchalant to the problems of the future, only to one day realize that, actually, the date is so soon you now have plans for a long time after that date, and so you should probably start to focus on how you're going to survive the now terrifyingly close traumatic event.
I have been coasting at best. Taking the easy route and making jokes about being British. Well, all that's about to change, for two reasons. One, the freakin' showcase is next week and I have no idea what I'm going to do, and two, I am by this point so incredibly complacent that I can't rouse myself to do the necessary work. I am the architect of my own downfall, the bringer of my own sorrow. I can see the train coming, but I can't, for some reason, get out of the way.
If you detect a hint of panic in my voice, you would be correct. In fact, the true enormity of my complacency struck home about 15 minutes before the most recent class, when I realized that, not only was the showcase in two weeks, but that I didn't have any material whatsoever for that night, and I hadn't even thought about it. In the end I cobbled something together about a child I dislike. I mean, he is a really terrible child, but the joke is kind of on me for hating a child in the first place. That's the point of the piece, which I wrote while other people were doing their bits.
Mind you, everyone's a bit short on material by this point. For every class, we're told to bring three new bits of material, so by my reckoning that's 18 fully formed stand-up bits by now. That's a lot of stuff. We're also told how to start stitching bits together into a set, because next week we're going to be trying the full set we want to do at the showcase.
Previously on Death by Microphone: Episode 1: Our Token Brit is Taking a Stand-Up Class at Dallas Comedy House for Your Amusement Episode 2: I Just Took My First Stand-Up Comedy Class and I Already Want to Sabotage It Episode 3: How to Suck Less in a Few Easy Steps: What I Learned at Stand-Up Comedy Class Episode 4: Holy Hell My Joke About Being Drunk and British at a Texas Waffle House Actually Works Episode 5: At the Dallas Comedy House's Stand-up Comedy Class, a Lesson in Handling Hecklers
Basically, start with your second funniest bit, back off a little, then begin to peak, and crescendo with your closer, your funniest bit. There are three categories that define funny in this case:
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First, obviously, the number of laughs you've received doing them to your fellow students. Second, it should have the most act-outs, the bits with the gesturing and the silly voices. Third, it should be your most intimate.
Like I said last week, we're encouraged toward the more confessional side of comedy, and, well, let's just say some people's closers are going to be traumatic. Interestingly, your opening bit should be one of your best but should absolutely not be intimate or confessional. No one wants a comic to get up on stage and start with a joke about their masturbation habits. We need to get to know them, then we can hear about the masturbation.
Oh lord. It's the end. My only saving grace is that the Dallas Comedy House doesn't seat very many people. Beyond that only the purchase of the kind of experimental EMP that used to drive the plot in 24 when the writers were having a bad week is going to save me.
Pray for me.