Years ago, Roy Wood Jr gave me a compliment that I’ve carried in my mental wallet ever since. If you’re not familiar with Roy, you should be. Here’s a clip of some of his work.
I attended a comedy workshop with Eddie Brill who was, at the time, the talent booker for Letterman. I can’t remember the exact year, but it’s got to be somewhere in maybe 2007.
The workshop was part of a larger entertainment booking conference and so there were a few people hanging around in the back of the workshop that were there to help critique sets.
Eddie had talked about the type of comedians that David Letterman liked to have on the show and I immediately knew that I wasn’t that kind of comic. Apparently Dave like joke writers who could stand in one spot, deliver the jokes without a bunch of rigmarole, and let the words do the talking.
And while I totally respect that style of comedy, it wasn’t me at the time. I was all about rigmarole. 🙂 Big act outs, shouting, dialects, doing my best to feed my inner Robin Williams. Ironically, now that Dave’s not on anymore, I think I could definitely put together a set in his preferred style.
But at this workshop I decided to do material that I really liked for my onstage character and get honest feedback about it. And so I did my Pirates bit that was in my first special “What Color Is Your Laugh?”. I may have also done Gangsta Pooh but I can’t remember exactly.
When I finished the other comics told me that was a terrible bit to do because it would never get on Letterman. There was a substantial amount of swearing in it. But Eddie knew what I was doing and explained my exact thought process of knowing I wasn’t right for the show, so I using this particular opportunity to get what I needed from it. Just solid feedback.
And fortunately he had a lot of nice things to say about my writing and he liked the bit. He really didn’t like the last joke and I totally agree with him. Wasn’t necessary. But I’d already released the special, so it’s out there.
And then Roy Wood Jr piped up from the back of the room and said “You’re a very brave white boy. And that was very funny.” Coming from someone many rungs higher on the comedy ladder than I, that was such a great compliment. And I’ve carried it in my brain since then.
To me that said that I can do material like this if it’s handled the right way. And I honestly think I handle it way better and more fairly now. But every time I work on a bit like this I think of Roy telling me I’m a very brave white boy. 🙂
Here’s the audio of Pirates from “What Color Is Your Laugh?” and you can download the whole special, audio and video, for free at www.PhilJComedy.com
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