Joke material and funny stuff
these days is all around us. . .especially if you’re a comedian and you write political humor. Between “alternative facts” and bringing your own cheering section to a briefing, the current president is opening himself up to a lot of jokes about him and his administration. Regardless of which side of the political fence you’re on, this stuff is funny (it’s many other things too, but let’s stick with funny for this blog).
Take the fake audience thing – as a comedian,
we strive to be genuinely funny and make real people really laugh. Laugh tracks were started somewhere in the late 1950’s to spice up sitcoms, but I don’t think they’re used much today. And entire fake audiences are rare, but I actually got to be a part of one about 15 years ago. In my quest to keep myself afloat after moving to Los Angeles, I did extra work. . .you know, those people in the background of TV shows, commercials and movies who walk around in the scene to make it come alive. Well, one day, I found myself as an “extra” in the audience of Dr. Laura’s short-lived TV show. I’m guessing she couldn’t find enough people who WANTED to attend, so the entire audience, at least that day, was paid to listen to her. And paid extras aren’t that reliable. We had to re-shoot a couple of her moments more than once because the camera accidentally got a shot of an extra sleeping. I was dressed better than most – in jeans, and so, since I looked presentable, and I was awake, I was approached 2 or 3 times by a production person asking me if I would ask her this pre-written question, that they provided, during her audience “Q&A” segment. This was the segment where she heard from the audience and then gave the person advice on solving their problem. A fake question from a fake audience member getting advice on a made-up issue that I didn’t have from a woman I didn’t think had good advice – geez! I declined. . .multiple times!
Sometimes people are fake, but they’re really trying.
A club owner told me that he one got a video from a kid who wanted to be a comedian, but didn’t know how, so he filmed himself in his bathroom, doing his stand-up in front of a shower curtain to . . .NOBODY. That’s right, he was even shouting out one-liner-zingers to fake heckler audience members. You gotta give the kid credit for trying, I guess.
I think comedians take more offense
to fake then most because there’s not much we can fake in our comedy show. Whilst actors in sitcoms get re-take after re-take, we have to be on the mark every time we’re on stage – people laugh or they don’t. Period. That’s my theory why so many comedians are asked to host awards shows like the Oscars and the Golden Globes – we can do the funny in one-take.
But instead of the one-take rule
freaking you out, make sure you know your material, and then just relax and have fun with it. . . be in the moment. During an interview today, the reporter asked me what is the advantage of going to a comedy show versus watching one on TV, and I said because you’re a part of an experience!
People appreciate genuine, so
write material you genuinely think is funny and perform it like you genuinely think it’s funny. You and those around you will enjoy it. . . and you won’t have to pay anyone to listen to you!!!