Getting a Good Tape – The White Whale of Comedy.

All Moby Dick jokes aside (although in all fairness, there probably will be regular dick jokes) I have often found it rather difficult to get a good tape to send out to agents/managers/my grammy that is a proper representation of myself and of my act.

I find that the best sets I’ve performed have often been in situations where I’m either not taping the show. The pressure that I put on myself whenever I am taping usually results in my sounding too scripted, or nervous, or just plainly not connected to my material. It almost seems as though every time that I know that I’m taping (and that the resulting tape COULD potentially change my life forever should I get the right kind of work out of it) I am too stuck in my head and analyzing the situation rather than feeling the kind of looseness that I am able to achieve when I have a really good set. Granted, the fact that I place so much potential value on the tape itself is part of the problem. And of course, the easiest way to solve the problem would just be to make sure that I tape EVERY set that I do, but this is not always possible.

First off, not every room that I perform in has a convenient spot to set up a camera. I have numerous tapes that look as though they were shot from the Hubble telescope, to say nothing of the sound quality.

Secondly, even if I do find a good location to set up, there’s usually a hushed conversation between people in the audience (or with the wait-staff) that is nearly as distracting and un-usable as the tapes that I have where the MC or some other person in the room has decided to stand directly in front of the camera.

Most importantly however, is the choosing of material to use. Optimally, a tape that is good enough to send out is usually clean. You simply can not expect to get top notch work or potential TV exposure out of a tape that showcases all the different way’s you can drop the F-bomb in a 7 minute period. Beyond that, I have been told on numerous occasions that doing pot jokes is also frowned upon.

While I have often thought of myself as a pretty clean comic, I still find it difficult to be 100% clean on a lot of shows that I do. The notion that even doing pot jokes (not to mention harder drugs) is a serious no-no if you want to get work at private corporate gigs or on TV has recently become something of a problem for me. While I do have a number of pot references as well as a number of full blown routines in my act, most of them are rooted in personal experiences that help shape my worldview.

Most troubling to me lately is the fact that one of my favorite bits is a joke about smoking pot with my parents. Not only do I often OPEN with this material, it also serves as a bridge between a lot of other subjects that I talk about. Finding different routes to get to the cleaner material is proving to be much more difficult than I originally thought.

In all honesty, smoking pot in general hasn’t been my greatest coping mechanism.

I welcome all comments and advice…. and dick jokes.

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2 Responses to Getting a Good Tape – The White Whale of Comedy.

  1. Wendle says:

    Stop going to the well! You begin the concept for some funny material but I feel bail too quickly on it only to run back to pot jokes as if the cloud of smoke is a safety blanket.

    As far as recordings, why not just record every single show. After a while you may just forget, or not care about the recording process. Perhaps you could do a Chris Rock type patchwork were it seems an intentional cut for stylistic purposes to keep it feeling fresh, and not just a vehicle to hide a weak transition or flat follow up. A good artist borrows and a great one steals.

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