February 17, 2010

“Get busy living, or get busy dying…”

In August 2008 Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August 2009 for 21 nights. He won the bet!

Last week I did 2 Funny Business corporate events that went really well.  But since then something has been nagging me. At the end of both events people came up to me and asked if I was still performing comedy.   Now, with the exception of my Funny Business corporate presentations I hadn’t performed any “real” comedy in 2010.  This got me thinking, what was stopping me, was I scared?

There’s a great comedy night in London called “Desperately Seeking Stage Time” where comics try out new material in front of a nice friendly audience.  Where better to go and try out some new jokes?

When I arrived at the venue there were 25 of us who wanted to go on stage, which meant we only had about 3 minutes of performance time each.  Now 3 minutes doesn’t sound like a very long time, but 3 minutes infront of a comedy crowd can be a very long time!

The whole point of the night is that it’s meant to be for new material.  I’d heard a lot of the comics before and I was surprised to hear many of them reverting to their old “safe” jokes if their new stuff didn’t get the response they were expecting.

In comedy we call that “listening to your Editor”. The Editor is the voice in your head that talks you out of going up on stage, or stops you telling the joke you really want to in case it offends someone, or tells you that, “your new jokes aren’t that funny – you should tell them your old material.”

I was determined not to let that happen, but my Editor was doing overtime as I watched the other comics and I actually started to get butterflies in my stomach.

Not just any butterflies either; I had a whole flock of those huge Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing butterflies from Papa New Guinea. Google them, they’re ginormous!

I never feel nervous in front of a corporate audience but a comedy audience still scares me, even now.  You’d think after performing 21 one-hour shows at Edinburgh I’d no longer be nervous, but this was new material, untried, untested, this was altogether different…

The crowd wasn’t being that responsive to some of the other acts, perhaps this new material stuff wasn’t going to be such a good idea?

No! I wasn’t going to let my Editor beat me so I decided to take control. I decided to make my Editor talk like Morgan Freeman.

Try it, no matter what your inner voice is saying, when it talks like Morgan Freeman the world is a better place!

After a few minutes of listening to Morgan’s dulcet tones I felt ok, and I got on stage and launched into my 3 minutes. It felt like a complete blur, but the whole 3 minutes was new material, not one old joke.

Afterwards as I walked home I listened to the recording I had made of my performance (again another tip from the comedy world – record and review every performance).  It wasn’t perfect but in those 3 minutes I had 3 good loud laughs and 2 giggles from the audience.

A laugh every 45 seconds. “Not bad” I thought, “not bad, but I know Morgan and I can do better next time…”

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.

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