I am not a funny person.
Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. Plenty of people laugh at (but not with) me. I’m sure if you asked my mom, she’d say I was funny. But as a general rule, I just don’t think I have what it takes to be the class clown. I always wanted to be that guy with the best quips, the snarkiest one-liners, but alas, someone in the room was always two-steps ahead of me.
Perhaps this is what attracts me to stand-up comedy. For anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, the floor is yours. All (or most) of the material is prepared prior to the show, and the people who are there are there to see you. Now, writing comedy is markedly difficult; you’d think something as simple as fart jokes wouldn’t take more than half a brain to figure out and laugh at, but believe it or not, they’re an art form. All jokes, I mean. But especially fart jokes.
On April 15th, I will be performing my fourth stand-up set (and fifth in a year) at Gannon University’s very own Knight Club with my roommate and returning comic Adam Miller as well as a freshman and brand new Edge writer, Gabe Fulgenzio. Because The Knight Club was one of very few convenient locations open to those under 21, I was forced to write brand new material each time I performed – a blessing in disguise, as it turned out. Writing that often forced me to start carrying around a notebook to jot ideas in, be they set-ups, punchlines, or just weird, one-off thoughts. If you ask any professional comics what kind of advice they would give newcomers, I’m sure a high percentage of them would recommend keeping a notebook. It’s a step that seems dumb and self-explanatory, until you take it.
Once Gabe approached Adam and I about setting up another show with The Knight Club, the creative process officially began. And by “creative process,” I mean lots of people watching. That’s basically where all my jokes come from. That may sound weak initially, but it’s not all about specific people I see or meet; more or less, observing the everyday actions of the average city goer can be entertaining in a myriad of ways you may have never even imagined.
For example, being forced to sit through a family reunion may spark your memory of some excellent tales of adolescence. Observational humor is its own brand, but honestly, I’m not sure there’s a style of comedy that doesn’t require a certain degree of observational skills. Generally speaking, I think plenty of comics start off by inadvertently imitating those hey respect and laugh at the most – for me, these were natural speakers and storytellers like Henry Rollins, David Cross, Tom Segura and Aziz Ansari.
And if we’re being honest, my first two sets were made up almost entirely of pop-culture references. That’s okay. If I were to give advice to any young comics out there reading this (and I’m not necessarily saying you should take it), it would be to write to your strengths. For me, those were television shows and movies. I watched a lot of them when I had free time, and in this free time, it was easy for me to pick apart little inconsistencies and absurdities that made me laugh. And so, my first 20 minutes of jokes revolved almost entirely around The Notebook, Blackfish and Chopped.
I am no professional, and I will almost certainly never be paid for being funny professionally, but I guess my point would be to take a shot in the dark. Find a way to do what makes you happy, and if that happens to be comedy, get in touch with me sometime. And if you feel like watching me self-deprecate for 15 minutes on stage, come see our show at Gannon’s Knight Club April 15th at 10 p.m.