A Comedy Lesson in Calabasas

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Barry KellerWe performed last night at Comedy Comes To Calabasas. It was a great lesson in M.A.P., Material-Audience-Performer. Your Material has to be right for the Audience and has to be right for the Performer. Now, chances are, if you’re writing your own material, you’re already learning, or already, writing material to suit yourself. But how many of us consider writing our material to suit a certain audience?

At Comedy Comes to Calabasas, the place where we do the show—Spumoni—is an Italian restaurant. People are eating food. As a comedian you have to ask yourself, “What is proper dinner-table comedy? What is going to be as pleasing to the audience as their meal?” Oh! Ask yourself this: If you said to the audience the very questions I just asked you, the reader, and directed those questions to the audience, would the audience laugh themselves? I’ll bet they would.

Back to the material, basically if someone in your audience is ready to indulge in a forkful of Linguine Bolognese and you, the comedian spout off material about “eating ass, ” how do you think the audience is going to respond?  One of the comedians did that last night. In fact his entire act, (about 10 minutes worth), was all about sex. Not a very good choice of material for people who are trying to enjoy a delicious meal. Even with the most attractive person in the world on that stage, it’s going to be difficult to pull off graphic sexual material in front of a crowd who is bloated with pasta and garlic bread.

The demo of the audience in Calabasas is, Conservative, 35-75, middle to upper-middle-class. They are a restaurant audience, not a comedy club audience. Choose your material wisely. Talk to them like they are your friends, be playful, use structure to shatter their assumption, and make sure you’re content is suitable for the situation and you can win them over.

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