You know it’s a beautiful Memorial Day weekend in Burbank, California when the smell of barbecue overpowers and masks the usual combined Burbank stench of of smog and Glendale.
And while most people were enjoying food and drink in their backyards, (or stuck in traffic on the nearby I-5 because of a car fire in the center lane), comedians at Flappers Comedy Club were engaged in the battle of funny.
It wasn’t your usual fare of comedians; bitter, mostly white men sporting jackets on their torsos and five-o’clocks on their cheeks, flinging jokes about their ex’s, smoking too much weed or being broke.
This was a special breed of comic; a women’s-only club of comics, all competing for the prize of “California’s Funniest Female.”
I’ve argued that I think women can be feminine while still being funny in this business.
That’s why I am so proud to announce that one of my top students—Pauline Yasuda—just won the California’s Funniest Female Comedy Competition (www.funniestfemale.com) last night at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, CA!
California’s Funniest Female Competition is produced by Bill Word, a veteran comedian and comedy producer in Orange County and boasts a line up of over 90 female comedians who compete for cash and prizes.
Even though the competition has the word “California” in it, there are no residential requirements so comedians have come from as far away as Ireland and Australia to compete.
One of the mantras I express in my classes is “Do the work.” I say that a lot.
If you have a grasp of the concept of structure and an understanding of the psychological laughter triggers, you can fill your writing—whether it be jokes, stories or your entire set—with triggered laugh points and engaging content, thus making your act not only laugh-filled but memorable as well.
And most of these competitions, where real judges are present, (as with this one), are not only about funny, but also about memorability.
If you’re a smart comic (and I know you are if you’re one of the 4 people who read my blog), then you will write that down, (“funny and memorability”).
Because, in her act, Pauline applies both.
Pauline is one of those comedians that gets it. She writes, re-writes, tests and re-writes again. Her work paid off and she took this competition by storm.
One of the judges commented to Pauline afterward and said, “To me, you were the clear winner! Great job!” Then he said to me, “Her comedy is unique, risky and memorable, without being crass or relying on profanity or pure shock to get laughs.”
That’s because Pauline understands that comedy is about surprise and recognition. She applies that in her writing while still staying true to herself and the ultimate understanding of the concept that the audience needs to identify and empathize with the comedian and his or HER comedic persona.
Those of you who have followed my blog and have been in my seminars, you know that I’m a big fan of women in comedy. This business craves funny women and the trend has proved that to be true with funny females now being scooped up to star in sitcoms and movies.
Bridesmaids is a perfect example of this as being one of the first all-female cast comedy hits to hit the big screen and have enduring allure in video and streaming video.
The business is ripe.
So ladies, if you’ve been sitting on the sidelines because you don’t think you’re cut out for comedy or that women are not accepted in comedy, think again and jump in.
Pauline did and she’s now the Funniest Female in California!
If you’ve thought about doing comedy or are interested in investigating the concepts of comedy and human laughter with a smarter and completely unique approach, then sign up for my free newsletter. You’ll receive free tips and lessons on creating material that gets response and hell, may even help you to win your next competition.
The Greg Wilson is Accused of Stealing Another Comedian’s Material while recording America’s Got Talent
According to the story that I first read on Slashfilm.com, comedian-contestant, The Greg Wilson, was performing on “America’s Got Talent.” He went to his closing bit which was an act-out of a mimed argument of a couple arguing in a car.
The crowd loved it, the first two judges loved it. When they got to Howie, he asked the contestant, (The Greg Wilson), “Did you write this, or are you performing someone else’s material?”
Right there in front of the audience and the cameras at the Pantages in Los Angeles, he gets asked if he stole material!
To top it all off, Howie says that he knows the comic that does the bit in question. Then he reveals the name of the comic: “Frank Nicotero.” Some of you may say, “Who the hell is Frank Nicotero?” Well, Frank is a comic who has been around for quite a while. He’s smart and funny… and he also just happens to be the warm-up comedian for… (drum-roll please)…
AMERICA’S GOT TALENT!
So The Greg Wilson is being accused of stealing a bit from a comedian who (unbeknownst to him) is in the SAME ROOM!
DOUBLE OUCH with an “OH SNAP!”
Being accused of stealing material is a big deal in this business. It’s scummy. It’s pathetic. And it can ruin a reputation and possibly a career… isn’t that right Carlos Mencia?
But to be snagged while doing it for a television show that gets to broadcast out to tens of millions is epic!
Here’s where it gets a little gritty:
I watched both comedians performing the bit:
Here’s Frank Nicotero:
Here’s The Greg Wilson: (The Bit starts at 3:43)
See The Differences?
When I watched both of the videos my initial reaction was this:
This bit is a high concept bit that could easily be performed by two different comedians. We’ve all seen couples fighting in a car and I could see that two comedians could come up with similar bits on that concept.
Based on the two versions, I thought that Greg Wilson did a more concise job defining the different characters and acting them out, but…
Jay Leno said to me: “There are no ethics in this business. You have to write faster than everyone else and your reputation will precede you.”
Your reputation will precede you…
That’s where this conflict begins to sort itself out; and we can begin to answer the question of if the idea was stolen.
If we consider the fact that Frank Nicotero is a seasoned professional who has hosted a television show called “Street Smarts” for 5 years and has had additional success and has a reputation that is super solid in this business, the origination of the bit in question starts to become clear.
But this is what settled it for me…
According to people who know both guys, It’s said that The Greg Wilson KNOWS Frank and Greg has SEEN FRANK PERFORM THAT BIT for years. I mean the bit goes back to 1993 for Frank Nicotero. It has been Frank’s closing piece for a very long time.
That’s where it’s No Bueno.
It boils down to this: Having a reputation for being a solid writer and comedian with fresh ideas by actually doing the work and writing on a regular basis is crucial in developing your reputation.
By doing a comedy bit that is known to be a signature bit of another comedian, The Greg Wilson has created a dilemma for himself that he now needs to overcome. He has seriously tainted his reputation and that is now being spread via the internet and social media.
If this story continues to have legs, it could really have an impact on his career and what other people in this business think of him.
Also consider this: America’s Got Talent is a reality show. It stays on the air as long as the ratings stay high. Much of the ratings are driven by conflict and drama on the show and although Frank was told that The Greg Wilson’s bit will never be aired…
A decision might be made by the show’s producers to air the segment just for the sheer drama and conflict. It’s bound to drive ratings and new blog posts, shares on Facebook and tweets on Twitter.
This story doesn’t die here. It reanimates when the show airs in about 6 weeks for potentially tens of millions of viewers watching on T.V. and potentially millions in the blogosphere and social media all pointing to the headline of The Greg Wilson allegedly stealing Frank Nicotero’s routine and performing it on Television.
Your reputation precedes you, indeed.
Love to hear your thoughts on this situation pro or con…
One of the goals of a young comedian is to land a gig on Comedy Central, but what happens when you’re far past your twenties?
Do the goals change? In a word, No.
Comedy Clinic student Esther Hersh is a perfect example. When she arrived in comedy class a few weeks ago, instead of running her set, she wanted to rehearse a piece for The Ben Show she was auditioning for the next day on Comedy Central.
She was auditioning for the role of “Gangsta Granny” in a sketch.
We spent about twenty minutes helping her get comfortable with the language of the piece. Even though Esther is referred to as the “Sassy Senior,” it’s no easy task getting a Jewish Senior Citizen from Studio City comfortable with saying “M-F-er!”
And that was her opening line!
We told her that 90-percent of communication in this type of presentation is attitude, emotion and tone of voice and only 10-percent is the words, so she drove the words with a Gangsta attitude.
And just after a couple tries, Esther was pouring out lines that sounded more like a piece from a Richard Pryor routine.
Set that against the fact that she’s all of 5-feet, two inches and holding an AK-47 and you have blaring INCONGRUITY staring you in the face.
If you believed some comedians in this industry, you might think that statement is true.
If someone said that to me today, I would tell them that one of the most memorable comedy bits in all of comedy is George Carlin’s "Seven Words You Can’t Say On T.V."
It’s pure wordplay.
They might counter that with, "Well that was a long time ago."
And I might let them believe that they’re right and let them begin that fall into the abyss of ignorance and arrogance that usually accompanies a comedian who’s been doing comedy for all of four or five years.
But not you. I would never let you fall into that abyss.
The readers of my blog–all three of you–I’ll try to not only guide you but give you supporting evidence from one the the masters…
George Carlin; a master wordsmith in comedy.
Ironic, considering that he left school in 9th grade.
And although the argument that "Seven Words" is from a different era and that it wouldn’t play today might hold some relevance; though I doubt it, I give you "Modern Man," a bit of pure wordplay comedy that Carlin did in his later years.