Roger Fusselman

Any stand-up comedians out there?

10 posts in this topic

Dear all,

I'm attempting to do stand-up comedy for the expat community in South Korea, while working full-time as an English teacher. Right now, I stink at it, for long reasons I won't get into here. Suffice it to say that anyone who's done stand-up for a long time knows how hard it is to get just five minutes of solidly funny material. Right now I have one minute of adequate stuff and four minutes of still-born half-notions of whimsy.

Incompetence aside, I'm a nice guy. Through meetup.com, I've started a website for stand-up comedy wanna-bes in the Seoul area. However, I'd like to meet other people on this forum who are also pursuing a possible second career in stand-up comedy. Perhaps we can share ideas and war stories performing, creating, and all that. Mind you, I'm very new; there are only three five-minute open mics to my name. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Yours sincerely,

Roger

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Roger -- If you lack for material, maybe just steal from Playboy's Party Jokes. That's what Cheech and Chong did at the beginning of their career!

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Well, with all due modesty, I can be very funny guy, especially off-the-cuff in conversation. Not everyone gets my humor, though - my son once said, after a very funny but somewhat obscure joke, "Dad needs subtitles." I've never tried standup, though, and I have no doubt it's much, much more difficult. I'd probably be better as a writer.

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There is a lot of material here in the jokes and quotes section. Perhaps the humour regarding English language will fill in a few minutes.

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I did stand up for a couple years several years ago. Although it could be argued one can't learn to be funny from a book, I highly recommend Judy Carter's Stand-Up: The Book. She is excellent in laying out the mechanics. Standup is not storytelling nor party joke-telling. It's setup/punch format, as you can hear on any standup stage amongst the professionals. Attitude and Issue, setup (1-3 lines) and punch (1 line). Lots of examples, etc.

And, yes, it takes a good year for a 1/2 hour to an hour of solid material. Put a recorder in the back, so you can evaluate the response later. Sometimes the folks up front are not indicative of the prevailing response.

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Well, I'm not gonna steal other people's material, and I already have and have ready Judy Carter's 1988 book (and a dozen other books on this stuff).

I'll reiterate my question: any people out there who either do stand-up professionally or are considering it as a career and are working toward doing it? Would like to hear from you.

Roger

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Objectivist comedian; a difficult road you face. It's unfortunate that our value in humor differs greatly from the irrational man’s value in humor. When I unfortunately acquaint myself with non-objectivist, non-rational people and try and crack jokes I am often thought of as evil because I make fun of the evil in our world; yet that evil is something that is perceived as good to those who value things like self-destruction.

I wish you the best of luck in your journey though; we need objective comedians.

By the way, I also taught English in a foreign country, but it was in Japan not South Korea

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When I unfortunately acquaint myself with non-objectivist, non-rational people and try and crack jokes I am often thought of as evil because I make fun of the evil in our world; yet that evil is something that is perceived as good to those who value things like self-destruction.

I disagree. Many comedy audiences appreciate controversy. George Carlin has done material defending atheism. Sam Kinison has denounced those who give to world hunger organizations. Bill Hicks has criticized nonsmokers in their presence, telling them how much he hates them. We've all heard jokes with a point we disagreed with yet laughed anyway at it. The difference of opinion is never the problem for making a biting observation funny. It's how you present that difference of opinion that matters. There's something else you're not doing that's getting in the way of the laugh. Trust me.

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When I unfortunately acquaint myself with non-objectivist, non-rational people and try and crack jokes I am often thought of as evil because I make fun of the evil in our world; yet that evil is something that is perceived as good to those who value things like self-destruction.

I disagree. Many comedy audiences appreciate controversy. George Carlin has done material defending atheism. Sam Kinison has denounced those who give to world hunger organizations. Bill Hicks has criticized nonsmokers in their presence, telling them how much he hates them. We've all heard jokes with a point we disagreed with yet laughed anyway at it. The difference of opinion is never the problem for making a biting observation funny. It's how you present that difference of opinion that matters. There's something else you're not doing that's getting in the way of the laugh. Trust me.

I agree, partially. It has a lot to do with the crowd that these comedians are performing to. I would also agree it is how you present the joke; if you present it in a way that truly encompasses your opinion in front of an entire audience that disagrees with your stance, then you are in danger of seeming like an arrogant bigot. On the other hand, if you present a joke that contains values that many can relate to, the joke will have higher odds of getting better laughs despite the topic of the joke.

The statement "We've all heard jokes with a point we disagreed with yet laughed anyway at it", I would say is false; mainly because you are speaking for everyone and I certainly do not share this view. When I hear jokes that attack reason, or attack the importance of things like education, ect. I do not laugh; but instead am saddened and mind-boggled by the fact that people find truth and virtue in this kind of humor. 

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The statement "We've all heard jokes with a point we disagreed with yet laughed anyway at it", I would say is false; mainly because you are speaking for everyone and I certainly do not share this view. When I hear jokes that attack reason, or attack the importance of things like education, etc. I do not laugh; but instead am saddened and mind-boggled by the fact that people find truth and virtue in this kind of humor. 

I believe we are basically in agreement.

People do laugh reluctantly to jokes that had a point they disagreed with. It's typically not anything like an ethnic joke or a full-scale assault on one's deepest beliefs. It may be something in the middle range of importance, such as a joke about a candidate you reluctantly voted for.

I daresay that if the two of us went to an A-list comedian's performance and I recorded your audience-member reaction, then grilled you about how much you actually agreed with the point of every joke, you probably would have laughed at one of those that had a point you did not agree with.

I think controversy in humor is overrated and misapplied. People think comedians are just angry ranters who assault the sense with overblown exaggerations. Not true. There's more art to it. A set may begin with more mass-appeal material and the controversial quip may be included later in such a way that it comes across as part of the humorous package rather than as some errant assault. Listen to George Carlin's "Class Clown" album, for example. His act begins conventionally, then progresses ever so slightly to more controversial material, peaking at the end with comments about the Vietnam War. Then he saves his last block of material, his famous "Seven Words You Cannot Say on Television," for the end, which has both elements of mass-appeal material and controversy. Everyone can relate to it, even if they're put off on the language. There are ways of positioning such material and prefacing such material so that the audience at least hears you out and, yes, even gives you some form of laughter.

I'm reading through Judy Carter's book "The Comedy Bible," which is the book I recommend for developing one's sense of humor (assuming one has a sense of humor already) into a comedy act.

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