Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fringe Festival Cabaret

I did stand-up last night at the Fringe Festival Cabaret, hosted my the amazing and wonderful Doogie Horner, one of my favorite people in the Philly comedy scene.

My set last night was pretty fun. It was the first time I had done a non-open mic show in a while. And it was the first time I've done a non-open mic show at a "real" venue as opposed to someone's backyard in a while.

Since I haven't performed in front of a decent crowd, and I haven't hit up too many open mic nights the past few weeks, I was afraid of being rusty.

I have the first four part of my act down cold and don't need to look at my notes to remember the order. I flew through these parts without much of a hitch. The Fringe crowd is noticeable weird and very much into modern dance and crap like that, so I figured that my "performance art" style would work without too much hassle. I did what I felt was a good ad lib when I asked people to make The Greggulation Nation hand gesture and then "broke" from the character into the "actual" me by stammer something like "please, come on, I mean it, please make the hand gesture." It seemed like everyone also did the "Slamdancin'" call and response without much of a hitch.

From there, I did my stuff to varying degrees of success. The hypnosis part had a stumble, solely due to me messing up explaining stuff to Joey D., who was going to help me out with something. I still have to work on the logistics of that in order for that to be what I think it can live up to. I think "the hypnotist who hypnotizes himself" bit is a great idea but I still haven't gotten anyone to completely commit to it with me. And I don't want to have a plant in the crowd for that part because I really want it to be something where the bit verges completely out of control.

The end part worked really well. I really hammered the "before I begin" entrance to all of my bits. So then the "now I am going to tell a joke" part was set up very well. After that, I broke out the slingshot with fellow comic/pal Brendan Kennedy and an audience member.

After my bit, we had a "Yo Momma" joke battle. The thing I love about Doogie, and his show The Ministry of Secret Jokes, is that he really loves the absurd/silly. The "Yo Momma" battle really captures his sensibility very well, getting grown-ups to do something that they probably haven't done since they were pre-teens.

This was a really good time. I was in a previous Yo Momma battle and was the first one eliminated. This time, I wanted to make sure that I at least went on to the next round. The first time, I had to tell a "Yo Momma is so fat..." joke in which my punchline involved diabetes. But Brendan went EXACTLY before me and also used diabetes as his punchline. So I had to call an audible on the fly and it fell short.

So, my plan this time was to make my jokes as bizarre/absurd and surreal as possible. At the very least, they'd stand out. Here's an example:

"Your mother once volunteered to be my slave. I agreed to let her, as long as she begged me first. She then begged to be my slave. But then she asked me to pay her. That means she doesn’t even know what a slave is. That’s when I drowned her in a fountain next to the Willow Grove Mall food court. And no one bothered to pick up the corpse because it’s really funny in an awkward sort of way to see a dead woman where you least expect to."

I managed to make it to second place until I was finally bested by rapping overlord Roger Snair. And during my set, people were yelling "Slamdancin'" at me throughout the set. This may have been one of my friends but I don't know.

I was in the back for most of the earlier acts, but I stayed out front for the second half of the show. But continuing in the tradition of people mentioning my stuff act during their act, sketch duo Animosity Pierre said "Slamdancin'" and made the hand gesture a bunch of times.

I also got to watch Aaron Hertzog in action. The crowd was getting beat -- it was late at night and they just watched a movie where the sound was all garbled making it hard to watch. But he did an awesome job of really connecting with the audience. He's become incredibly comfortable on stage. It was great watching him up there just go right in without any qualms. Completely owned the audience, and something for me to keep in mind the next time I perform.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Prank Phone Calls w/ Dave

Aside from pro wrestling, my favorite type of artform is prank phone calls. I've been making prank calls since I've been a kid and it never gets old, albeit it incredibly immature.

My friend Dave loves prank calls as much as I do. He's hosting a radio show/podcast tribute to prank phone calls in a few weeks. For his show, he asked me if I wanted to record some pranks. My answer was a resounding yes and, there is no irony in this statement, it may have been the biggest honor of my career.

We made about 20 calls to various degrees of success. I won't go into the details of our calls (don't want to ruin the surprise of what we did) but it was a lot of fun. We also both noticed a few interesting things.

1) I definitely improved my form as I went on. My timing became better and better -- I started to develop a good instinct as to when to put in a very awkward pause.

2) A lot of noted prank phone callers tend to do pranks that go on for a long time. The ones I liked the best last night were very short. I think my favorite call probably lasted for less than 30 seconds.

3) It really is like stand-up comedy where you have to develop a voice/persona. We repeated the same types of calls a few different times; the more I performed these pranks, the more I had a voice for the character I was portraying.

4) You also have to be quick on your feet and react to what your victim is doing. I think this is pretty similar in knowing how to react to an audience and change it up on the fly. You have to make a decision on your direction very quickly. Knowing how to find that is hard.

Anyways, I'm excited for this project. I think we're going to record some more in a little while.
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