People Get Better at Stuff

I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for four and a half years now, and done over 400 shows. Recently, I taped a longer set I’ve done and posted it on my web site. I’m happy to see that I’m improving (I’m assuming. I haven’t actually watched it yet). I did 18 minutes, and while not 100% solid and consistent, it’s definitely tolerable, if not funny. I’m hopefully overcoming my biggest weakness of being too boring and monotone with some fake excitement, inflection and movement.

Audiences should realize, however that comedians get better. When you go see a comic live, you aren’t seeing a movie. You’re seeing a slice of a comic’s life. Their performance, although possibly rehearsed, is just another rehearsal, another practice for the shows that comes after. It’s not a final product. It’s another attempt, another try at improving, being funnier, becoming more compelling, getting more interesting. You’re just a guinea pig in this somewhat scientific experiment, and your reaction – laughter, groans, silence, obedience – is the feedback.

Just because a comic is not funny or has a bad show does not mean you will never like that comic. It’s pretty amazing how much I’ve learned and changed in just the last two years. Talent plays a role, but comedy, like pretty much anything else, is something you get better at with practice. When you go see a comedian, you’re watching him or her practice. Just by being there, you’re helping comedians get better.

Thanks, audience member. Here’s your gold star.

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