In honor of Tuesday’s Queer Comedy show at Zanies Comedy Club, I talked with three of the comedians in the show about doing comedy. Being a comedian is a very unique calling and defies many expectations. To lift the veil a little bit, I asked them how being a comedian is different than people might assume.
For myself, I think that unlike other careers, people have a lot of assumptions about a comedian’s life. Like it’s a character trait rather than a career. The number one thing I get asked in every day life is always, “Is this your bit?” Like every conversation I have is an open mic or something. But of course that’s if I’m being funny. If I’m not being funny, I get asked, “Is everything OK?” “What’s the matter?” “ARE YOU MAD AT ME OR SOMETHING?!” Usually I just assure them that everything’s fine but sometimes I ask what they do for a living. If they say they’re a barista, I ask, “Where’s my coffee? DO YOU HATE ME?!” And so on. Which is a vicious cycle because, well, that’s kind of a bit, isn’t it?
It’s a misconception that comedians are all looking to fill an emotional void with applause. I’m not saying we’re not screwed up–just that after you’ve had enough good sets and bad sets, audience feedback stops feeling personal. Having a joke hit doesn’t feel like an absent parent’s love; it just feels like doing anything else well.
Considering how new I am to the comedy scene I have only recently been able to confidently say “I’m a comic” when people ask what I do. It used to be “I’m a bar manager that is sometimes on stage by myself with a microphone” which was easier to keep the conversation moving without further elaboration on the subject. However now oftentimes the response is “say something funny” to which I have to explain that it’s not really that cut and dry because my humor is more of a storytelling style that requires a little foreplay before the payoff. People assume that I just stand on stage and tell knock knock jokes or something…which is not the case. Another response I get is from mostly my actor friends: “Oh I could never do that it seems terrifying” which was always surprising for me because the idea of being an actor is more scary for me. At least in our case if we bomb it’s our own words being botched on stage, not someone else’s.
Also, another way that being a comic is different than what people may think, is that… it is WAY better than anything anyone else does! Even with the boundary problems, it is the most amazing experience to share my life on stage and make people laugh.