My first student, and now writing partner, Rob Rose, called me the other day as he was preparing to do a showcase in the main room at the world-famous Comedy Store. We were tipped off that some heavy hitters from the industry were going to be there to watch the talent, so we were both eager that he do well. He started telling me all the new material that he wrote for the showcase. I stopped him. “You’re doing new material?” He said, “Yeah, I want them to know I can write.”
There’s always a temptation to write new material for an important showcase because you want to impress. But the problem with that is you don’t truly own it and it will affect your performance. Jay Leno once told me, “Never do new material for a showcase for an agent.” And he’s right. Always do stuff you are so familiar with that you could do it in your sleep. That way an agent sees it as effortless and that is what will make you stand out from everyone else that stands on stage. You’ll be free enough to play with the audience and that will reflect in your performance.
Doing new material may make you feel fresh but it won’t let you stay out of your head. Once you have to remember to do the material then that puts you into your head to look for the joke rather than in the moment with the audience where you belong. Save the new material for a midweek club workout rather than an important showcase in front of industry decision makers.
He took the suggestion and was spontaneous and playful on stage. As a result of doing the “tried and true” material, he was able to be free and his act reflected that. The agents took notice too and after the show they indicated that he was one of the favorites. We’ll see what happens. Whether he gets signed or not as a result of that peformance, he stood out and they made note of it. When they see him again, they will really take notice.
Jerry Corley (Joke Doctor) is the founder of the Stand Up Comedy Clinic visit the website at http://www.standupcomedyclinic.com where you can sign up for a class or private coaching.