I love performing stand up and making people laugh in general. It’s a feeling I have had from secondary school onwards. I used to see it as a challenge with some people and then take pride when successful.
Today, I love using different methods to do this, either through witty quips or making an absolute eejit of myself if I don’t feel confident enough to use words. I know, the irony of a ‘stand up’ not feeling confident enough to use words is not lost on me.
I have been performing stand up for more than a year and a half now. There are few things better than the feeling of making people laugh, except eating chocolate, or watching ‘New Girl’.
In terms of routine, my material would probably be considered quite surreal and abstract. I’ve been told I’m likeable on stage so that certainly helps. It’s hard to pigeon hole myself but generally topics include relationships and cultural mores.
Writing a routine can be a difficult process. It requires a lot of editing if an audience don’t respond favourably and even abandoning the routine altogether if one feels it doesn’t work. Different comedians use different approaches in writing a routine. Some learn off up to eight minutes of material in order to feel comfortable to perform. This is my preferred method because it can give me confidence to adlib. However it can backfire in a sense because sometimes the audience can sense it’s rehearsed and a connection is lost.
Some comedians have a loose script to work with. Few feel so confident they can be naturally funny in the lead up to a punchline without using any script. I hate them. Obviously because I can’t do that.
I use a few methods to deal with nerves before gigs, although I would classify this state as more excited anticipation than outright nervousness. I usually go to the bathroom, look at myself in the mirror and go through the set. I pace back and forth and pull some silly faces in the mirror to loosen myself up. As a result, I generally scare visitors to the men’s toilets.
I rarely drink before a set. Although it helps some comedians. It’s important for my mind to be limber as alcohol dulls reaction time to a potential heckle.
I get a mixed reaction from audiences. Aside from laughter, thankfully, sometimes the audience gasps in shock or surprise. This can be a great sound for a comedian to hear as it shows that people are listening. There is nothing worse than the sound of polite engagement. Of course this does not legitimise being deliberately offensive, but most subjects can be funny if approached contextually or in an intelligent manner. There is nothing, I repeat nothing, more depressing than jokes about women putting the toilet seat down instead of up. What’s the deal with that?
Not many will admit this but I love the ‘awwww’ sound if a joke is deliberately bad. I love telling a bad joke and the consequent challenge of winning an audience back. The audience can tell if a joke is so bad it’s good. It’s important to engage as many people as possible during the set through good eye contact.
There are two spots which focus exclusively on stand up in Galway. The Róisín Dubh hosts both national and internationally renowned stand up comedians. Comedy Cocktails is on every Sunday night upstairs in Busker Brownes, which attracts up and coming acts as well as more seasoned comedians who want to try out new material.
Visit www.roisindubh.net or find ‘ComedyCocktails Buskers Galway’ on Facebook.