Unpleasant Growth

Saturday February 19th, 2011 – Somewhere At Sea

No shows tonight, but I still ended up working all day. The process it takes to maintain a standup comedy career can never ever be called ‘finished‘. There’s way too much to do on way too many levels, and it all needs to be maintained. Between onstage development of character and material, to offstage business skills and contacts, it’s a constant drain.

Nobody is good at everything, so it’s always a challenge to maintain any sort of balance between what we excel at and what we don’t. It’s human nature to seek pleasure and stay away from pain, but that’s not the true way to grow correctly. The real key is to dig in and not only work at the weaknesses to make them strengths, but also improve the strengths.

I’m working with Mark Hawkins again this week, and I’m glad. I think. He’s a nice guy personally, but professionally he can be a major league ball buster – and I like it. Well, it’s not so much that I like it, but I need it. No, it’s not that either. I could survive without it.

What makes Mark so good to work with is, he’s got no history with me and can go right to whatever in my act needs to be ripped to shreds and do it surgically without having any personal agendas attached to it. He doesn’t sugar coat anything, but I know he’s offering a fair and honest critique from the point of view of both a comic and an ex cruise director.

That’s a rare opportunity, and I’m going to take full advantage of it whenever I can, and that’s now. In the long run it’ll make me a better comic, but in the short run getting a joke or bit ripped apart can sting a little – especially when it gets laughs. But I know he’s right.

I really respect Mark’s work ethic, as he busts his ass writing every day for his own act. His father is a big time sportswriter in Detroit, and Mark probably learned from him to do his due diligence and pay attention to detail, which he’s great at. He’s anal by admission, but that’s a good thing. He’s got computer files with set lists that go back several years.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that level, but I do know I’ve already grown since the last time we worked only a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been way more aware of what I want to do onstage before I do it, whereas my old style was to just let things flow as I felt like it.

That’s not always bad either, it’s more of a free form jazz style. When it works, it’s very effective. But when it’s off – yikes. Everyone has off nights, but when the free form isn’t working it’s nice to be able to pull out something well structured and let it save the day.

Mark and I exchanged bit ideas and notes from watching each other’s shows in the last couple of days. I added a couple of lines to his stuff that made him laugh, and I could tell he’ll use them. That’s another thing, he’s not too proud to have to use only his own ideas.

He wants to have the best joke, and I’m the same way. Running things past others gives more opportunities to find them. We spent a long time working on this, and we were both a little tired when it was over. But, it’s an off day and this was a productive way to use it.


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