A couple weeks back I was fortunate enough to work with Amy Schumer. Comedy Central is whisking her around the country doing a series of one nighters to promote her new show Inside Amy Schumer.
Redding was the first city on the docket, but her regular opener missed his connecting flight. I've done a couple shows at the same venue with Jake Daniels (who runs a weekly Wednesday night show at Win River Casino), a comedy producer in Redding. In their scramble to find a last-minute replacement, they reached out to Jake, he called me up and we were in business.
Amy was very nice, and she didn't have to be. She's out doing a national tour, selling out theaters, and promoting her Comedy Central show, and I was a last-minute local fill-in in the middle of nowhere. When I run into her in the future, and remind her that we did a show together, I'll bet she'll even be nice enough to pretend to remember me.
The show was sold out, with over 900 people in attendance. That's about three times the size of any crowd I'd performed in front of previously. The room was was long and narrow. Those seated in the back were at least 200 feet away from the stage. For those of you familiar with my stand-up, you know that I'm not a guy who moves around a whole lot. I'm more of a stand-in-one-spot-and-talk guy. This was the first time I've ever been onstage and felt like I needed to be "bigger."
My part of the show went decently. As an opener, your job is to bring the next comic up to an excited, energetic crowd. It was an ok set for me, but I did my job. And as Amy took the stage, she said, "You were funny." which is the equivalent of acknowledging that I was, in fact, an actual comedian.
All in all, it was a good experience
An hour after the show, we ran into each other at a gas station. And you know what, guys? She totally remembered me.
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Harmony (Thursday, 26 December 2013 02:53)
Your stage persona, the type of set you craft and your delivery, in my opinion don't lend themselves to "bigger". You're like Baby Bear of the Three Bears: just right. (Caveat: I'd wager that's probably the first time you've been referred to as Baby Bear. I'm gonna run with that one, maybe even get you a half shirt with that printed on the front.)
From a fan standpoint, it's easy to just jump in and go along with your setups and find the rhythm of your comedic viewpoint. It's most enjoyable to me to lose myself in the quips, stories and one-liners when I don't have to figure out some crazy incongruous pattern. Few people can get away with that and not have it detract from the actual jokes. Sam Kinnison is the standout, then maybe early Denis Leary for the subdued setup and in-your-face aggressive/shouted punchline bipolar style. Gilbert Gottfried is the gum-on-the-sidewalk worst simply because he's unfunny. He just exacerbates it by screaming intermittently like a dementia patient. I frankly don't understand why a Gilbert Gottfried is even a thing.
There's a time and place (and type of comedian) for that "oversized" Robin Williams/Jim Carrey gesture and impression style, then for "big" comedy in the vein of Sommore, Chris Rock or Gary Owen that's still got gestures, just not as expansive. I find those to be more story-based, stage-pacing, sets. You have comics like Angelah Johnson who can do characters well, but really shines in narrative like her Beautiful Nail bit, which is mostly her, stationary at the mic while doing small business with her hands, miming the mani-pedi process and nailing the accents and driving home the awkwardness of the whole experience of knowing you're being openly mocked in a language you don't understand.
Watching a set from you, Tig Notaro, Bill Hicks or Rita Rudner, I would classify as "minimal" in terms of traveling the stage and hand/body stage business, as well as voice modulation. Your collective, chill-out delivery and type of material doesn't require a "big" presence. The premise and payoff are the focus. The matter-of-fact delivery becomes part of the reason the telling of the story is funny but the core is the strength of the writing. It seems as though successfully developing one of the "bigger" styles with the characters/voices/impressions would be a challenge to nail perfectly but I imagine just writing solid consistently funny material that's intended for a "minimal" delivery from the outset would probably be the hardest thing.
Everything's kept at a low-key, steady level and sometimes is pared down to a monotone and a calculated decision to stay still/grip the mic as part of the performer's persona onstage. I suppose "dry" and "observational" humor often but not always falls into a "minimal" category.
(I put Mitch Hedberg in the same category even though he was a bit spacy his sets were well-calculated non sequiturs and one liners. Hedberg was genius at making the audience feel like he was just ultra-lit and making random unrelated funny quips and observations.)
So yeah, you're big enough.
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