Friday, September 09, 2005

Be Myself???

To quote (sort of) Woody Allen, showing up is 90% of life (or is it 80%).

To quote on of my favorite comics and people, MB Cowan, "I swear, if one more person tells me to just be myself...I'm gonna do it!"

I am recovering from watching the DVD of my "practice set", taped at the comedy studio last night.

Horrible. Just horrible.

I have struggled to cut down the material to 6 minutes, and this set lost all character. I raced through jokes, skipping by potential laughs in the interest of expediency, and not hitting words that usually deliver laughs every time out. My friend Mike watched it with me, and when I complained about getting no reaction on a line, he said, "well... You didn't really sell it."

He was right. Thank God for video. As I watched, I wondered who the clown on stage was, butchering my work. He didn't resemble me in the least. The only time I looked relaxed or at all like I was having a good time was when I improvised or tested out a new tag line.

I feel like I was completely missing the point of an economy of words, to get in less filler and more funny, not to get in more Joe Isuzu like rambling and blast through material, editing out the funny.

A friend told me yet again today to not worry so much about the material, that it's really me that's funny, and to just be myself. I wish I could say I'm sick of hearing this, but it's like I forget it daily. After the disaster from last night (by the way, no one except me thought it disastrous, but anyway...) I decided to watch an DVD of a show I did this spring where I absolutely killed. It's the DVD I edited into the set I submitted that got me into the Boston Comedy Festival. It was good to see myself doing well, reminding myself that I actually can do this.

I can't believe I forgot the strategy I used to get through my first major show, almost two years ago. I prepared fairly well, then just prayed my ass off and said, "hey, if I suck, it's God's fault."

God is an excellent place to cast burden, both historically and personally. So instead of driving myself insane over the next week, practicing and repracticing the same set, I am going to do my best to prepare myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I'm going to do my best to enjoy every second I spend on stage or off, talking with comics, meeting people in comedy I admire, and hanging with my comedy buddies.

It's pretty cool that I got into the festival, but I don't want to turn it into an agonizing experience. I just got emails today from some guys from my hometown that I haven't seen in almost twenty years. Apparently someone read an article about me, googled me and passed the word around. It's pretty neat to hear names from the distant past like that. They are a good bunch of dudes, though many of my memories from that era are lost in blackouts.

I talked to my spiritual advisor today and told him my goal was to not embarrass myself.

"Aim higher," he said.

"Shit," I thought.

"Go be yourself," I heard for the umpteenth time.

I briefly thought of the necessity of a new girlfriend, a poker tournament or any of a number of distractions, then a clear thought came to me.

So I am revamping my strategy for the week of the Boston Comedy Festival. My goal is to have as much fun this festival as I can. I am going to do a bunch of bits beforehand and decide the morning of my set what material I am going to do, which sounds insane because it is. I'm gonna pray and trust that God knows what the hell He is doing, because I'm pretty certain that I don't.

And oh yeah- I'm gonna show up.


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