Practing The Craft


Wednesday December 4th, 2013 – Rosemont, IL

I had a fantastic opportunity to practice my craft tonight, and I took full advantage of it. I enjoy working whenever I can, but it’s a special treat to be able to have the freedom to experiment a bit and stretch my boundaries. That’s the only way a performer grows, and I never want that to stop.

Once I stop growing, I’m ripe. After that it starts to rot. I could have easily phoned it in tonight but that’s exactly what I was determined not to do. I was the headliner at Zanies in Rosemont, IL and that’s always a fun place to work. It’s one of the nicest comedy club venues in the country.

I was just there last night as the host of their ‘Ten Comics for $10’ show, which is going to be a regular weekly feature apparently. I’ll be getting some opportunities to host many of those I’m sure, and that’s never a bad thing. Any time a comedian can earn money on a Tuesday is a plus.

I’ll take work whenever and however I can get it, and to me that’s what being a professional is all about. I love the process of being a comedian, and quality stage time is the life blood of what we do. The politics and the travel can be cruel and inhuman, but that time on stage is our heroin.

It’s the whole reason we put up with the bad parts, and I’m not about to turn down a helping of it when it comes my way. Zanies gives me a lot of work, and I’m grateful for every bit of it. We are able to help each other, and that’s how I always thought life should work. This time, it does.

When I host shows, I always try to give every act a tremendous introduction and get the crowd ready to laugh and focused on the stage. I calm them down after a good act, and get them back in focus after a weak one. It’s never the same twice in a row, so being a good host requires focus at all times to make sure the show is the best it can possibly be. That’s what keeps me coming back.

Closing a show comes with a completely different dynamic. It’s not just a matter of doing more time and going on last. A true headliner has to take the show up a notch, and that’s not easy to do especially at first. The most difficult leap to make in comedy is from the feature slot to headliner.

The average ‘feature’ or ‘middle’ in a comedy club typically does about 25-30 minutes. That’s a daunting task in itself, and it takes years of hard work to put that much time together. Closing a show is a whole other level, and not everyone can do it. They may think they can, but they can’t.

A headliner has to be able to work around situations like having to follow a feature act that has similar premises. It happens on occasion, and it takes away from the punch if those subjects have already been touched on. It happens to me all the time, but I can work around it. It’s no big deal.

Another pitfall a headliner deals with in comedy clubs is that the cocktails kick in and having to deal with drunks becomes a much tougher issue. This has always been torture at any level of my development, but I’ve learned to deal with it with the best of them. I can defend myself handily.

Still another part of headlining is crafting a show that peaks at the right spot and is a complete performance rather than just 45 minutes of random clutter haphazardly thrown together without a plan. I had a plan tonight, and worked on several facets of my game. It was wise use of my time.

Standup comedy is a LOT harder than most people think. It's not just a matter of getting on stage and acting goofy. It's a craft, and takes a lifetime of dedication to become a solid headliner.

Standup comedy is MUCH harder than most people think. It’s not just a matter of getting on stage and acting goofy. It’s a craft, and it takes a lifetime of dedication to develop into a legitimate headliner.

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