Earlier in the year, a whole two months ago, I revealed one of my goals this year was to do more stand-up comedy and to enter into the Raw Comedy Competition. It is the premier comedy competition in Australia and one that has introduced many famous acts to the greater Australian public.
I have been doing comedy for only a short time and I have grown to love it. Nobody is guaranteed fame and fortune in this competition, but not the reason why I wanted to do it. There is no greater feeling than making an entire room of strangers laugh. And nothing worse when they don't. Every rush has a price but I want it.
Being a competition, I chose the best jokes I had from my previous performances, all three of them, and developed my set of "gold" from there. That way I would have a chance to at least get something other than crickets, but no two audiences are the same, and you are never guaranteed that every joke will work every time.
Leading up to the competition I had an opportunity to attend a workshop with Greg Fleet. Greg is a well-known comedian in Australia and a legend of the scene. He showed me how to identify weak spots in my performance, shared how he develops his material, and offered suggestions to help make jokes pop. For example, if you move about on stage when you talk, make sure you are still for when you deliver the punch line.
The workshop filled me with ideas and enthusiasm, and I hungrily developed the “script”; which is more like a series of punch lines in dot points. I did a few run throughs, changed the order, more run throughs, tried to change the words to “enter” into each joke differently, changed the order again, etc. using suggestions I had learnt from Greg.
I had more than 7 minutes of material on average. During the competition I would have only 5. Some jokes had to go.
Culling is hard. Like any other creative endeavour, cutting your blood, sweat, and tears is hard. I liked all the jokes, they were my children, but I had no choice. I brought them into this world, I had to take them out, and it was tough to let go. I got to around 5 minutes, give or take, and now needed a test audience.
My girlfriend is amazingly patient with me, and has an invested interest in my happiness and no choice to be anything but my test audience. She is generally not a fan of the jokes I try and crack day to day, and we have different upbringings and experiences growing up which allows her identify if I am being too niche or not making sense. Therefore she is perfect, and as a test audience (see what I did there).
And awesome. Her feedback and suggestions helped bring more of me into my act and in two hours, I no longer sounded like I was whinging, the weaker jokes were gone, and stronger overall. There is no doubt I ever would have been as good without her.
All I had to do was practise.
The night of my heat arrived and coincidently was bloody hot. I got to the venue early to sign in, but my name was not on the list. “Shit! Fuck!” screamed my eyes, "I have friends coming, most didn't know I was trying stand up. The organiser called me last week to confirmed, I confirmed, I'm sure I did, why am I not on the list?" but my mouth went “um… err… um… are you sure?” but only just.
The lady at the door, who was really nice about the entire thing despite me panicking, went and checked with the organiser who apologised. I was on the list, but for some reason not on the door, probably when she moved names from blah blah blah. I breathed an audible sigh of relief; Copy + Paste thou art a harsh mistress and I will never forgive you.
The crowd started arriving and the room filled quickly and soon was at capacity. I found out I would be on in the second period and started pacing my drinks accordingly. The MC called my name, I had a mouthful of courage, and I headed towards the stage...
It was amazing. By far the largest crowd I had ever performed to; there was not even room enough for all of the comedians to watch the other performances. Although I did not progress to the next round I performed my arse off despite my nerves trying otherwise. It is the best performance I have done so far and one I am extremely proud of.
If you would like to see the original rendition of some of these jokes, you can find videos here and here.