Becky Donohue of Coffee and Showbiz put up a great blog post about places you should NOT do comedy. Some of those include: strip clubs, anywhere there are TVs playing sports behind your head, children’s birthday parties, church events, and America’s Got Talent.
Comics are known for taking stage time anywhere and everywhere. An audience is our best friend. Plus we get better the more we’re on stage. And we’re just addicted. But we do ourselves a lot of damage by doing some of these really bad gigs. And yes, I’ve seen and/or participated in all of the above.
Particularly America’s Got Talent. As C&S says, it’s a comedy ambush. Comics are brought on to be ridiculed and you’ll see in the video that the audience lays into this guy from the first words out of his mouth. He manages to save the day, but I’m not sure it does anything from his career. We’ve all wanted to say those things to some audiences.
Not only do shows like this teach their audience to be utterly disrespectful to the performers, that crap drifts into the real world too. A lot of people don’t know the difference and they think it’s ok to boo and heckle a performer during a show. Newsflash… it’s not ok.
I agree with Becky, comedy is not given the respect as an art form that it deserves. You’ll see the douchy British judge (another one, really?) say he’s tired of comedians saying they have the hardest job among performers.
Well, I’ll tell you… I performed music as a featured act, background music and pit musician. I’ve acted on film. I’ve done TV. There is no more dangerous and difficult performing art than comedy. You have to guarantee constant laughs (the industry standard is a laugh every 7-10 seconds). You have a script, but you’re expected to be able to go off it and react to the room at the drop of a hat. Let’s see Mr. British Judge do that.
So like Becky, I’d like to invite all comics to stop doing these ridiculous shows. What about Last Comic Standing, you ask? Ditto… Making comics wait in line over night on the sidewalk for a two minute (maybe) audition is not cool. Putting up Craigslist posts asking for the “wackiest, craziest acts!” and then putting them on TV just to ridicule them. Not cool. It’s a freak show.
Yeah, they get down to some good ones. But like American Idol, it’s a very small, non-representative cross section of the comedy world. Like music, comedy has a lot of different flavors and styles and that’s just one of them.
So comics, go on shows that respect your artistry. And audience members… be nice. We’re working to entertain you, but you have to go along for the ride. 🙂
Here’s the vid: