People often ask me, do you do jokes about your real job? Answer – NO. To quote a wise man, don’t shit where you eat. I had a job one short time several years back where I sold janitorial supplies and foodservice supplies. One of the ladies there asked me, “Do you joke about this place? I bet you have some good ones!” Yes, I have entire 20 minute sets about napkins and urinal pucks. It’s gold. PURE GOLD.
Well, I’ll tell one work story from the past today for ye. I was working for a commercial truck rental place as a sales rep. Not laughing yet? Oh just wait!
I had a new account that turned in all their trucks without warning and called immediately to find out what worm competitor stole my moo cow. I was told by the secretary “I don’t know why we switched, we just did.” Did you get a better price? Newer equipment? TELL ME WOMAN, TELL ME! “I don’t know, we didn’t even look at pricing.” Now I was pissed and used the only sales tool to melt the hardest hearts. Free lunch. Would you like pizza and we can discuss? “No! We like subs.” OK, I said, subs it is. Then she exclaimed, “Jimmy likes tuna!”
I realized I had to load up the subs and drive 45 minutes to win this account back. I got to Subway – tuna? In my car for nearly an hour in the summer? Not today. Jimmy’s getting meatballs or turkey. I pulled in and presented my delicious gift of Subway. I had everything under the sun, minus the sunbaked mayo and tuna mashup. I asked if I could requote, reservice or rededicate my efforts to winning back their business. What price do I need to meet? What upgrades or features can I present? The old lady snatched the bag o’ subs, rummaged through it like a homeless food critic and stared at me with hate. “JIMMY LIKES TUNA!” Out of pure reaction, I yelled back, “THEY WERE OUT OF TUNA!” (They weren’t.)
I brought free lunch to an account that for no reason yanked hundreds of dollars a week from me and the only response I got was that Jimmy likes tuna. I nearly brained her with the remainder of the sandwiches. The irony was that Jimmy walked in, saw the meatball and exclaimed, “This looks good!” I laser eyed the grump with fiery steel eyes and she relented. I got their business back and it turns out Jimmy likes meatballs too, but now for the rest of my life, every time I see tuna I hear the shrill scream in my head of “JIMMY LIKES TUNA!”
I have been fortunate enough (read: talented and amazing) to win 3 major comedy competitions in my life. I have also lost a few, which were obviously crap and rigged, but let’s focus on the fact I won several. In fact, if you take away the six or seven I lost, I’ve NEVER LOST A COMEDY COMPETITION EVER. Pretty damn impressive, I think.
Here’s the do’s:
DO your best stuff. You have five minutes. Pick your best stuff over that new really cool joke about that indie band you just wrote.
DO memorize your set. It’s five minutes (some are longer). If you can’t memorize the stuff that you wrote, the audience will notice you reading off cards. I hosted a competition recently and one of the contestants forgot his jokes and said so. He didn’t move on. It takes a bit of practice – if it’s too much to ask, don’t get in the contest until you’re ready.
DO record your set. Contests are usually full of people. Be smart and learn from it.
DO practice. What? Actually do open mics and prepare a set for a contest? No, I’ll just do comedy once a month and bitch on Facebook when I don’t move on.
The don’ts (are there 2 apostrophes needed for don’t’s? don’ts?)
DON’T be fifty feet away from the stage when you’re up next. Every second of dead air an audience member starts checking their phone or starting a conversation. You’re not cool taking three minutes to get to the stage; your clock is running also.
DON’T use a stage name and not reference the stage name. “Next up is Graham Cracker Cobblepot!” (comic never once talks about graham crackers)
DON’T yell out OH! for your first “joke” if you don’t have a good football joke. It’s distracting without tying into your set. (For Ohio comics, mostly a pet peeve of mine. Example: “OH! (crowd yells IO!) You guys like frozen bananas?”) Yuck.
DON’T go over your time. You don’t win points doing seven minutes in a five minute set – you’re a dick or inexperienced.
I would reveal more, but you’ll have to private message/email me and send a check for $1000 for more info. Check out www.chriscoencomedy/ripoffnewbs for more info.
I was going to finish my whinefest about the bad part of comedy, but I am truly an optimist and people always talk about how I am a ray of light and true joy. OK, no one does of ever has. Let’s look at the bright side, though with the best things about doing stand-up.
1) It’s cheaper than therapy. Nothing like bitching in a funny way and getting paid for it (sometimes).
2) You can drink on the job. You don’t even have to hide it! (Don’t drink too much, you’ll get fired, even from comedy.)
3) You see new places. Thanks to comedy, I’ve been to Minnesota, Milwaukee, east Maryland, the UP of Michigan, Savannah, and a lot of places I had never been to. I got to stop by Gettysburg on the way home from another gig, which I hadn’t been to since grade school. I got a free week’s vacation in Virginia Beach once – actually I got paid to go there. I’ve found out Village Inn Pizza and Western Sizzlin still exist (for what that’s worth) and long road trips helped me find new podcasts and music to download. I’m also now an expert on shitty hotels – need to know about shitty hotels/motels? I’ve got you covered.
4) Small towns are boring, but I love doing comedy in small towns because they are usually so happy to be there, it’s refreshing. IN OTHER WORDS THEY PUT THEIR DAMN PHONES AWAY PEOPLE.
5) You meet some generally interesting people and on occasion, see pure genius in comedy. Stand-up, sketch, improv, and story shows – sure sometimes they suck, but I’ve seen, no exaggeration, 1000’s of comedy shows for free and the vast majority have been good, great or amazing.
Well, that was way too positive for me, so I’m going to read people’s political opinions on Facebook until I can chew on glass again.
People love top ten lists. I just read one about the Undertaker that was maybe the most boring and poorly written list I’ve seen – I read the whole damn thing. He’s the best. So, I’ll try one. Comedy isn’t all clowns (the good kind) and rainbows, but hopefully you enjoy the misery of laughter, from a comic.
1) Everyone gives you jokes. Thanks for that joke I heard when I was six – so did everyone else. I’ll stick to my original material.
2) People telling you to use stuff that’s not funny. One time at a job, a guy who knew I did stand-up said, “That guy is a piece of work. You should talk about him onstage!” Yes, I should talk about Lenny the mechanic, who absolutely no one knows. Maybe I’ll build a nice story about him in the five minutes I have, just in time to get the light and miss the punchline, whatever in the blue hell that may be. “Oh that Lenny, he sure does love his Hungry Man microwave dinners! Thanks for coming out tonight!”
3) People think if you are doing a show, you intimately know the menu, ticket policy, comfort level of the seats, drink selection and good restaurants nearby. “Get the chicken parm, yes, they let 18 and up in, but not under 18, the booth seats are better but they’re in the back, the Long Islands are strong and for sure eat at the Mexican restaurant 2 blocks down if you don’t eat at the show…OH WAIT IT’S A PLACE I’VE NEVER BEEN TO BEFORE AND I’M ONSTAGE NOT IN THE CROWD.
4) The local emcee. Sometimes, the bar will have a really funny (cough cough) local drunk host the show. They usually read jokes off a sheet of paper or do inside jokes about the owner’s ex-wife until you’re more uncomfortable than say, a voter having to pick a president this November.
5) Promoting a shitty show. I used to do every damn show I could and some I couldn’t but fit in. I took a show where there was a sign on the door saying don’t disrespect the Young Bloodz motorcycle gang. The heat was off and the only drinks were warm High Lifes and a bottle of gin mixed with Coke. I actually hoped no one I told came to the show and it wasn’t the last time I’ve felt that.
People must have been poor back in the day. The first anniversary gift is paper? Well, money is technically paper, but give your lady cash and you may not have too many more anniversaries. She probably already has all your money anyway, am I right? (Silence) Moving along.
Well, today is my second anniversary so I got cotton (and gave cotton). I don’t know about my wife, but I found my options rather limited. We got each other a few things, but for cotton I got my wife some pillowcases that cost about $10,000 (I tossed the receipt, that’s what they cost and you can’t prove otherwise) and I got this.
My wife thinks Captain Abearica is an awful name (it’s genius), but thanks to Build A Bear giving birth certificates, his name is “Daddy is our Superhero.” Apparently, my family has low standards for a superheroes, but I’ll take it. Actually, my daughter took it, she is in the phase of grab everything that’s not bolted to the wall or floor, carry it a foot or two and chuck it over your shoulder. I don’t know what the third anniversary is, but probably something like bellybutton lint, I’m guessing. My wife is really going to be spoiled next year!
Let’s face it, the VP debate is about as relevant as the Team Jacob/Team Edward debate from the mid-2000’s. Well actually, maybe not, both the presidential candidates have higher unfavorable ratings than traffic jams and pimples deep down in your ear. Whatever you do, don’t get on social media – here’s a recap, “The old white guy I like is better than the old white guy you like! Snarky comment and hashtag.”
I thought of more fun debates to have, and these are just as important as the person who is going to do whatever in the hell “Lunch Bucket” Joe Biden did for eight years (he’s a career politician, but apparently he has a lunch bucket, in case you wondered).
Who’s more annoying, wine snobs or beer connoissuers?
If someone offers you candy, and it is actually licorice; can you punch them only or all out beat them to death?
What is scarier, running out of beer right when the closest beer store cuts off sales or being attacked by sharks with machine guns?
Am I getting fat or does my washing machine shrink my clothes faster than any other washing machine ever in history?
What is thinner – a newspaper page or the toilet paper at work?
Did Tim Kaine have surgery to get his eyebrows to look like that or is he Jack Nicholson’s Joker with the flesh makeup on?
What is whiter, a blizzard at the North Pole on Christmas or Mike Pence’s hair?
That should keep you busy with important questions that need answers. Enjoy.