Inside the Head of a Performer VI: The Big Show – Part 2
If you haven’t read IHOP Part 1 yet, I recommend it. Of course I also once recommended that we lean a bottle rocket up against the rear view mirror and shoot it from the driver’s side of a moving vehicle. You’ve been warned.
OK, I’ve been in the business long enough to know a couple things. Don’t try to do something that isn’t you – AND – play to the audience. These two things unfortunately contradict each other at times like this one. But I had a plan to compromise. First of all, idiots who don’t know anything about anything and get all their life information from romanticized broadcasts of people who get paid to sell the American Dream will automatically tell you to just be yourself. Funny is funny. Granted I’m not going to try impressions of DMX or Chamillionaire and I’m certainly not going to even wade in the race pool, but I’d be a fool not to think to try to play to his crowd somehow. Potentially 1,500 people are coming to see Aries, not necessarily me – though I’m sure to have a small following too. But I doubted my name made it to the 98 Rock spots. So I started to try to think of what I had in my arsenal that would go over well in front of his fans. I wasn’t about to sacrifice my integrity and resort to low-brow dick jokes. But I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with some high-brow dick jokes. And yes, there is such a thing.
But mostly, I wanted to do something physical. I don’t do impressions, but doing some sort of physical comedy would likely appeal to the same crowd. Unfortunately, I haven’t really tried anything physical in my act since my first few months. At least not in my stand-up act. My storytelling arsenal has quite a decent artifact of physical comedy in it. The climax of humor in the Logic, Luck and Love show is a segment I call “The Douchebag Dance.” It hits every time in front of a crowd predisposed to storytelling. But that doesn’t always translate to stand-up crowds, which are much less patient and forgiving. Thankfully, Vijai and Brad gave me two venues to practice it in the weeks prior to the big show. It went over well enough and I had gotten a decent idea of what I needed to change. And that bit would take 7 minutes, almost half the time I needed to fill. Plus, it was already written and as memorized as any bit I’ve ever done. Check.
I had a good feeling based on the sheer number of people that would be in the crowd that every joke would garner at least a little laughter. One great thing about big crowds is that laughter begets more laughter. Also, people as a general rule, do not want to look stupid. And the easiest way to do that is to not get the joke. So people will tend to laugh if other people are laughing. One way to bring that to a screeching halt is to offend people in the crowd. Some people choose that as their style, such as Andrew Dice Clay and Bobby Slayton, but I don’t have the personality or the testicles to go that route. So as long as everything was serviceably funny and I didn’t offend anyone, there was no way in my mind that I could bomb. Unless I got too drunk.
So my strategy was set. The Douchebag Dance was added to my repertoire and I wouldn’t offend anyone, at least not until I got them on my side. And even then, it would just be a quick jab, then a smile of retraction, more self-defamation and on to the next bit. Oh, and the more dick jokes the better. I knew this would be in front of a lot of UB higher ups, but I also knew Aries would be right after me and nobody would remember any of my crassness by comparison. I don’t have the time to speak in detail of the not-so-subtle difference between TV and live comedy, but it is night and day in terms of raunchiness. Those same people who don’t know anything about anything are probably tilting their head and thinking “wellllll, I’ve heard Chris Rock tell some pretty dirty –“ no you haven’t. It’s not the same, not even close. Sorry, but you don’t understand. Laughter begets more laughter and raunchy dick jokes are more likely to result in belly laughter than the “Ha. That’s an interesting point” intellectual jokes that will translate better on TV. But as I began, that’s a story for a different day. Just make fun of myself and I’m sure I’ll be fine.