Comedy Class | Getting Your Time Cut

 

flappersWe had our combined showcase this Thursday at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, for our Beginning/Advanced comedy class.

The bill was filled with 18 comedians ready to hit the stage to showcase. That’s a lot of comedians for one show, but to top it off we had to complete the show in a timely manner, because we had to clear the mainroom to let it get set for the late show.

Talk about pressure! Mix in with that the fact that I had a baby-sitter fall through and had to miss the show and you’ve got a tough beginning to an evening that had its obstacles.

Then the comedians, many of them doing a showcase for the very first time arrived to the club to discover that their time had been cut back from seven minutes to six. It can be stressful for a comedian to have to suddenly cut their time, especially for a newbie.

But the show went on and as I hear it (I can’t wait to get the video), and the show was great. Everyone did their best and had good sets. The show ended on time–for the most part… and, despite the stress of time-cuts, nobody died from a brain aneurism or anything like that.

Getting your time cut is commonplace in this business. I have a friend, Don Richardson, a professional comedian for 25 years, a regular at the Comedy Store. Don’s a real pro with real world experience who possesses a very good reputation…

One night he showed up at the Comedy Store for his scheduled 10pm set. As Don arrived at the Comedy Store he checked the list and there were 8 comedians that still needed to go on.  Just then, Andrew Dice Clay took the stage in the Original Room in a surprise appearance. Dice decided to do an hour and a half. By the time Dice finished, it was 11 o’clock and with the 8 comics still remaining.

Don knew he probably wasn’t going to get on that night.

I asked him how he felt about that. He said, “In this business, these things happen. You’ve got to learned to roll with the punches., It could be worse. I could be punching a clock. 

So there’s a great lesson to be learned here. That lesson is this: from the best laid scenarios to the worst planned events, comedians have to learn to be able to adjust to the show. A comedian is a rare person. They not only can make an audience of strangers laugh, they can do it under circumstances that are not always ideal.

We learn as comedians to take these things in stride. For some of you this may the first time something like this happened, but I assure you that if you continue in the comedy business it won’t be the last. Having your time cut short is a common thing to deal with in this business called show business. It’s so common, it becomes part of your craft.

You might be a solo act on stage as a comedian or a duo, or whatever, but in the total scheme you’ve got to be a utility man, you’ve got to be the guy or guys (and I say that not to leave out girls, but because of language limitation), who can roll with the punches and rise to the occasion under any circumstances.

On one hand as a comedy student, you prepared for a seven minute act. On the other hand you learned an advanced lesson and you’ve had real-world comedy experience, just like Don Richardson.

Have you encountered a similar situation? Or have a war story? Share it!

Two New Comedy Clubs Open In New York City

greenwich-village-comedy-clubComedy’s Dead! Yeah, I heard that from some young comedian the other day.

Well don’t tell that to Al Martin, owner of the New York Comedy Club and The Broadway Comedy Club, who’s now opening his third comedy club, in New York called the Greenwich Village Comedy Club. It’ll be opening this July in, you guessed it—Greenwich Village.

But wait, that’s not all!

Co-owners Patrick Milligan, David Kimowitz, and brothers Cris and Paul Italia, (yes the same ones who are partners in the company “Cringe Humor,” that has spent ten years managing and producing projects for comedians), are opening yet another comedy club called The Stand. It’s just a short subway hop north of The Greenwich Village Comedy Club.

That’s two—count ‘em—two comedy clubs in a city that already has a dozen or so, not counting open mics and improv theaters. At this rate, the comedy scene in New York City is growing at a rate eight time that of the national economy.

I don’t know if clubs going to follow the same business plan as many of the clubs in L.A. by having “bringer shows” masquerade as real comedy shows, but with names like Bill Burr, Artie Lange, Jim Norton and Dante Nero appearing at the club, I don’t think they’ll have a problem putting butts in the seats.

What I like about guys like Al Martin and the boys over at Cringe is that they’ve been in the comedy business and have been focused on developing comedians for over a decade now. They’re not just fly-by-nights who would just as easily open a titty-bar for the convenience of having a cash cow. They are into stand-up comedy and they have a genuine focus.

Both owners have also professed an understanding and commitment to the traditions of the New York comedy scene (i.e.: Lenny Bruce, George Carlin) and apply that and keep it present in their clubs. The difference is that The Stand will not be imposing the two-drink minimum. They’re hoping that their cocktails and food will be too tempting to resist.

Kimowitz even said they are looking to utilize The Stand as a “comedy gym,” (Hey, that’s my line!), to provide a place where comedians can work out and develop.

New York City is clearly the dominant force in comedy clubs in this country. Where you can count comedy clubs on one hand in Los Angeles, in New York City to accomplish that, you would need an abacus.

So, yeah kid, ‘comedy’s dead,’ and it’s gone to comedy Heaven; New York City.

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