Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Make 'em Laugh

So I did it! I completed my first 7-day challenge by performing a stand-up comedy routine I’d written in one week Monday night at the Acme Comedy Club.
And it was a rousing success! Not because I was so funny (though I did get some laughs and I’m choosing to believe they weren’t courtesy laughs) or because I’ve discovered a new career path (though my favorite comedian of the night, Peter Greyy, told me later that he thought I had potential and I’m choosing to believe he didn’t say that because I had just told him he was my favorite).

It was a success because it was nerve-wracking and terrifying and I went ahead with it anyway and felt exhilarated afterwards. Truly, the reason I chose this for my first challenge is because I think there’s nothing harder or scarier than standing in front of a large group of people (200!) and trying to make them laugh. That, to me, is the ultimate challenge and I wanted to tackle it first.

I also learned a lot about stand-up comedy:
1)Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it’s open mic night, it will be a bunch of people just doing this on a dare or goofing off to try and impress a girl. Except for me, these were all people attempting to make this their career and many were succeeding. I knew I was out of my league when I pulled out my three index cards and the comedian one table over had a full NOTEBOOK of jokes. It was only later that I discovered what kind of a stellar reputation the Minneapolis Acme Comedy Club has. When I told Peter Greyy it was my first time, he laughed and said “That’s like deciding to sing opera for the first time, and doing it at the Met.” Thank god they put me first before I had time to chicken out.

2)The stand-up comedy world is a club and I don’t know the secret handshake. From the moment I walked in to sign up for a slot, it was clear that everyone else in the room knew each other. I’ve heard that the comedy business is all about relationships and who you know – it was evident last night. But the good news was as soon as I performed, it was like I was part of the crew. More than one of my fellow performers complimented me or called me by name and asked if I’d be back. I got the feeling they did this with all first-timers regardless of how they really felt about the routine, but it still felt good.

3)There is no better feeling than making someone laugh. We should all try to do it more often. Not just on stage, but at work, in our homes, standing in line at the grocery store. Humor can go a long way towards making the world a better place.

One final thanks to my husband, Justin. He was incredibly supportive when I thought I was going to puke before I went on and risked getting in trouble by videotaping my three minutes of infamy. When possible, I’ll post the results of my challenges – this one I’m posting purely for my parents who weren’t able to see it in person, but figured into my routine.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day Three

So it’s day three of my 7-Day challenge. For this first one, I’m trying to write a stand-up comedy routine in one week and perform it at the end of the 7 days. And I actually thought it was going pretty well. The past few nights I’ve been writing down things I think are funny, even giggling to myself a few times. And then I came to a horrible realization. Upon re-read the next day …. lots of it isn’t that funny. What the heck was I thinking?

So I’ve decided to once again consult Google for tips from the comedy experts about how to write a stand-up routine. Here’s what I found (courtesy the Suite101 website):

1. “Develop the right attitude.” Well … what is the right attitude? Despair? Embarrassment? If so, then check and check.

2. “Read funny books and articles.” Seriously? If that were all it took to be a stand-up comedienne, my grandmother Else
would have been the next Joan Rivers. Or the first Joan Rivers? How old is she again?

3. “Narrow your humor.” What does that mean? Can I only talk about one subject? If I begin with bathroom humor, does that mean I’m doomed to only talk about toilets for the rest of the time?

4. “Respond to your audience.” Not so sure this one’s a good idea. I have visions of me yelling, “Yeah, well my act may be awful, but so is your face” or some other equally immature and not altogether intelligible retort and the whole thing ending in a melee.

So I guess I’m on my own. Here’s hoping I grow a funny bone in the next few days (or at least develop short-term memory loss after the event).


Sunday, July 12, 2009

7 Day Challenge

Almost daily, I read about a hobby or hear about a way of life that I think is something I’d like to do. But the amount of time you can spend trying new things is staggering, and somewhat intimidating. Sure, I want to be the best rock-climber, environmentalist, cross-stitcher that anyone’s ever met – but I also have a full-time job, family, friends and a new dog that keep me pretty busy. Reading the mail without getting distracted is tough; sticking to a good habit? Forget about it. So I thought of an idea.

People (including me) are obsessed with deadlines. “I’ll lose 15 pounds in 3 weeks.” “The house will be organized by November 1st.” “I promise I’ll start caring about my job tomorrow.” They usually serve only to stress you out and make you feel like a failure when the deadline has come and gone and you’re still an overweight, messy person who sucks at their job. But I’m going to use a deadline to my advantage. I am going to try all sorts of things that seemed too hard or time-consuming before …. For just one week.

I’m calling it the 7-day challenge. You can do anything for just 7 days, right? You can eat healthy or stop drinking alcohol. You can endure a visit from your in-laws. You can go without food, even water I think (might have to fact-check that one ….. Google just told me I’d be dead after 3 days-so we won’t try that one). These challenges will vary in their difficulty and type. I might try living a fairly extreme lifestyle for 7 days. I might try going without something that’s considered pretty necessary in our modern culture. I might try learning a new skill and see how good I get at it after 7 days. Or I might try doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, but been scared s***less to try. I have no set goal and no idea what will be considered success with some of these challenges. I’m just looking to learn a lot, have some personal growth, and feel like I’m accomplishing something that wasn’t easy to do.

Along those lines, I’ve decided what my first 7-day challenge will be and it’s the one thing I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try. I will start working on a stand-up comedy routine today (trust me – I don’t have anything written down yet) and perform it one week from tonight at the Minneapolis Acme Comedy Club Open Mic Night. This won’t be easy. Because everyone thinks they’re funny in that I-can-make-my-friends-and-coworkers-laugh sort of way. But it took me a long time to discover that what I think is funny, witty sarcasm sometimes gets misconstrued as plain old bitchy. So I may very well suck at this. But it’s one of those things on my bucket list and that’s part of what this project is about for me.

So here I go! I will update during the week about my progress .. here’s hoping I follow in the mighty footsteps of Carrot Top, Pauly Shore, and the guy that smashes the fruit.

-Paige (the CEO of the Warehouse:-)