Working Comic: The Devil’s in the Details. – by Shawn Carter.

Last week I did a fundraiser comedy show.  It wasn’t the worst show I’ve ever done.  The people running it were nice.  I got paid.  But they missed some really important details when they set the show up.  Details that my good friend Jim Akiba (who helps me every week with the comedy show at Stadium in Quincy) would not have missed.  The sorts of things that audience members don’t even think about but can make a comedians job 10 times more difficult.

First:  The introduction.  I have done many fundraisers where the person in charge talks about the organization and why they are raising money.  This is a fine thing to do but they always do it as part of the first comedians intro.  Why not make your speech, then say “we’ll start the comedy show in 5 minutes”?  Instead, I’ve done shows before where they have talked about how a child went missing and then their lifeless body was found in a marsh a month later and how this show will help raise money to fund projects that could prevent that.  Then they introduce me.  That is AWFUL.  Why don’t I just do a comedy show at a fucking funeral, a child’s funeral.  I mean, I feel for the people that lost their child but Jesus, how am I supposed to make people laugh (which is the job you hired me to do) after you just set such a somber tone 10 seconds before I got on stage?

Second:  The seating.  Why is the closest audience member 40 feet away from me?  Seriously.  Comedy works best in small intimate settings.  I don’t mind being in a room that fits 300 people but it’s sort of weird when the first 8 rows are missing.  And what is in between the stage and the audience?  A buffet of food and a bar.  Perfect.  Oh yeah, there’s a line of 25 people waiting for their beer, chatting each other up right in front of the crowd I’m supposed to be entertaining.  Not distracting at all.  “Hey, how are the meatballs?”  “Great, I’ll grab a plate when I get off stage”

Third:  The lighting.  Lighting is probably the most misunderstood and under appreciated detail of a comedy show.  People at comedy shows prefer to be in the dark, even if they aren’t aware that they prefer it.  When you’re in the dark other people in the crowd can’t judge you for what you laugh at, when you’re in the dark the comedian isn’t picking on you, or staring at you and wondering why you’re not laughing.  That’s all important, but is it the most important aspect of lighting?  No.  Well, what’s more important than that?  Oh, I would argue that the comedian should be well lit.  This may sound obvious but it’s frightening how often people mess it up.  The comedian should be easy to see, it’s kind of an important detail.  At the very least the comedian should have more light on him/her than anything else in the room.  That will draw your attention to him/her even if you are easily distracted.

So there you have it.  Details details.  Now, let’s talk about the week.

Monday:  I hosted the comedy open mic at Sally O’Briens in Somerville.  Good times.

Tuesday:  I hosted the comedy show at Stadium in Quincy at 8pm and the comedy debate show at Stadium at 10pm.  The show was a ton of fun, great crowd, great comics.  It just keeps growing every week and I’m really excited to see how popular it can become.  It’s definitely the best thing to do on a Tuesday night in Quincy.  This week we awarded the debate winner with one of the coolest prizes I’ve seen yet, a painting of a a chicken about to cross the road and down the road was a sign for UnScene Comedy.  I almost entered the debate myself because I wanted that prize.

Wednesday:  I stopped by the Tavern at the End of the World and did a quick set.  Thanks to Mariel Cabral for giving me a spot.

Thursday:  I hosted the show for Jeff Dye at Laugh Boston.  That dude is awesome.  Great club.  All around good time.  Oh and Dan Boulger was featuring and he’s one of the funniest guys in Boston so it was a sick show.

Friday: I did a fundraiser show.  You know how it went.  ok.   Then I went to the movies to see the new Avengers film.  Age of Ultron was pretty good.  I would recommend it to a friend or enemy.

Saturday:  No show.  I hung out with some friends and watched the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight.  I’m glad the fight went down the way it did, now I know for sure that I don’t like boxing.


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