Stand-up comedy is the art of raw speaking and storytelling. At its most prolific, it can educate. Comedians are capable of using their personal and public domain of experience to raise a mirror up to an audience so that everyone is in on the joke or able to laugh from an outside perspective. It also has the ability to bond the most diverse audiences on the planet over humor. The scope of “targets” or topics the comedian jokes about can contain any specific target. This is also includes the comedian themselves.
When the Stand-Up Comedy class began, the instructor tapped into our unfiltered, unprepared creativity and spontaneity. Those, in my opinion, were the most precious experiences as that was the closest we got to bliss, ignorance, and pure joy. Self-conscious intelligence and self-managing can be detrimental to creativity.
As my opinion stands on storytelling, telling stories is arguably the most human experience that exists. It is not just going through what the time provides. That is only part of it. The other part is being able to recount the experience with enough accuracy and vivid description to get the teller and listeners to relive the moments. This is how information passes from one generation to another. No matter the medium that people use, it boils down to the spoken or written experiences reaching the minds of others. This is a concept that I have no issue understanding. I have been able to revisit my past experiences and share them on occasion. They don’t always contain precision, but I can share them.
I appreciate the artists who are reporters of society. That’s what I aim to capture. The true beauty of the art for me is to approach it from a bird’s eye view, then reflect back to the masses in a way that is honest and amusing. The amusing part is where I lose my listeners. I push for rigid honesty probably more than I should. An audience that knows too much about me and does not laugh for their hard work of listening intently, is not a happy audience. The amusement is the most important part. Without that I border on preaching or coming off as an uncertified educator. That is not why people go to comedy shows. Comedy is a form of entertainment. The key word is entertain.
People gather for many things. Some of those things can be negative. It serves the societal psyche best to keep as many positive gatherings as possible. As far as gatherings for the purpose of laughter, arguably the most joyous experience, comedy is at the highest point.
Experience of Tragedy
Comedians who carefully tread the line between reality and overexposure when it comes to addressing themselves are the most vulnerable. When coming face-to-face with a rough topic, it is an extreme challenge to expose layers of that topic. If it is a personal experience, the difficulty multiplies. If that experience pulls the audience into a dark place, it can be a treacherous path to recovery.
The line between comedy and tragedy is thin. I feel that I consistently pull people too far into my mind. Instead of providing a snapshot and then exiting the dive, I pull too hard. I then feel that the audience may know things they should not know about me. There is no escaping that feeling that traps the space. At least for me.
Experience of Self
Unfortunately, Stand-Up morphs me into everything that I am running from and attempting to get the audience away from. Instead of embracing the performance, I am subjecting myself and the audience to:
Class Experience Takeaways
The good thing about the class is that I am confronting these obstacles on a weekly basis. It may not feel good in the moment but I will be better for it. At the most, I will learn to suppress my internal war for the sake of the performance and entertain an audience. At the least I will learn what not to do. In the words of Thomas Edison:
“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”– Thomas Edison
In the first week there were no previous failures to compare to. The class was challenged to sprint out into the open field recklessly. It was organic and refreshing. I hope at least one of the future exercises can capture that sense of accepted mistakes and freedom to experience.