My month of Studio time is littered with special shows. Some I look forward to more than others. Last nightEmersonCollegehad their annual sketch show at The Studio and this show was lower on my list of special shows to look forward to. Good sketch is hard to find. I love the idea of sketch I’ve just seen more bad sketch than good.
So even though the majority of the show was a sketch show, as the Comic in Residence I had to open it. The audience was mostly students and just a few parents or people who happened in off the street. Knowing the crowd was there mostly to see sketches and their classmates, I had limited expectations. My only goal was to tell a new joke. I started off with a few comments on the set list that the sketch folks had taped to the stage. The majority seemed to appreciate being acknowledged and I got some good cheap chuckles. I did a few jokes to a decent response and now it was time for the newbie. Just so you understand the extent of this joke’s newness, I wrote it last week and have never said it out loud. Most of my jokes, at the least the better of my jokes, are born in the same fashion. I see something that strikes me as odd, not necessarily funny, it ruminates for a while (anywhere from minutes to weeks) and then I write something roughly down soI don’t forget the idea. The joke, I use the term loosely at this point, is still in my head, still in my head, still in my head all the while being reworded, reworked and reheard. Then it’s time.
Of course my normal first time joke tell is at an open mic, but this month it has to be the Studio. So I toss it out there and it gets my biggest laugh which only tells me there’s a possibility it will work. By good fortune (or perhaps bad), there happened to be someone in the audience who fit this scenario to a tee and some others in the audience knew it. It got a bigger response than it ever probably will again but it gave me enough faith that there might be something there. This is a simple, short joke on which I can build. It’s not terrible witty or even overly funny. It ends in a surprise which will help me segue into the next premise which is still ruminating. The new joke from last night will now be written down again in a word for word fashion, selecting more carefully particular words to best convey my intentions and will be recast tonight into a new crowd. A new crowd.
I didn’t stay to watch the whole show last night. As I mentioned before, good sketch is hard to find and watching sketch while the players are still on book is not appealing enough for me to stay out for. I’m tired and this is only Thursday. By tomorrow I will be exhausted. That’s the problem with having a full time, often brutal day job and a wonderfully fulfilling night job. If I could find one that was both fulfilling and paid the rent I’d be set, but for now I balance both and usually one or another suffers for it while I’m caught in the middle. So tonight will be another new show, another new crowd and another new experience. I think I’ll treat myself to an iced-cream after the show if my new joke flies again.