Little Reid, Big City #14
By Reid Faylor
Quite a lot has happened the last few weeks! I went home to visit my grandma who is quite ill, which was wonderful (not her being ill, the seeing her part) and I was very grateful to see her in high spirits and to talk with her. She was in hospice at the time, though now that she’s recovered she’s back in her retirement center. She’s been reading this blog apparently, which immediately made me regret every “fuck”, “shit”, and “taint” that I wrote. I think I only wrote “taint” once, and will continue to hope she didn’t quite pick up on it. Grandma, if you’re reading this: “taint” is a funny word meaning “good grandson!” She had asked me a while back to consider writing comedy for old people, which I thought would be interesting but ultimately I had no idea where to start. Then she told me her favorite joke is the one where I told an audience member that his problem was that “his mom threw away the baby and raised the afterbirth.” I was surprised to say the least –I am now reconsidering the whole “comedy for old people” idea. Apparently the elderly like rudeness. Also on my trip I did a guest spot at Go Bananas, doing some of my newer material at the late Saturday show. It didn’t go that well, still managed to get laughs but the material weirded people it out it seems. I know I did alright, but I felt pretty damn miserable after that. There’s a strange pressure when you’re the guy coming back –to impress, show everyone what you’ve become. To think I’d become more inaccessible was a scary thought, so I spent the next week revising every joke I did that night, and thankfully I’ve improved those bits quite a lot even since then. I also learned again not to sweat it too much –my material won’t be for everyone, I don’t have to impress every drunk, late-night crowd in Ohio.
For a while I was in a definite slump with my material. I had a limited connection to anything I wrote, a joke would work two or three times then start failing consistently after. I identified the problem eventually: all the jokes were interesting in the fact that they used strange set ups or formats (a series of inspiring stories, a review of Freud’s parts of the psyche), but there was no substance. This is not to say my jokes need to be meaningful; I have plenty of material that is fairly irrelevant and somewhat impersonal, but it still doesn’t feel like I’m just telling a joke. There’s something else there, a new idea or a place the joke goes that gives it meaning. I finally broke out of this with a new bit, one that for the first time in a long time is actually personal. This used to be a notion that I had written off –I do some very strange material, and getting honest and revealing about my actual life had formerly never been able to fit in with what I actually think is funny. I tend to divide it into two parts: honesty of subject and honesty of humor. My humor was honest, it’s how I think and what I alone feel is funny, but the subject matter was more often abstract. With the joke “dog dick baby bottom” for the first time I’m starting to see how I can relate actual aspects of myself in my current style of comedy –it’s making me excited about writing jokes again. Also: I’ve fully discovered yelling. Based on reactions and the word I get back, apparently yelling is a thing I can do pretty well. I think the video demonstrates that, or if nothing else lets you hear me yell for a good couple minutes.
I mentioned auditions in the last post. The week before I left I had two auditions: one for Three Arts (a talent management agency) and one for the Comic Strip (an important New York comedy club). The first audition went great –it was a showcase show filled with a lot of open mic-ers, all doing their best material. It was an invite only, and for the fairly brief amount of time I’ve been here and the talent they put up (open mic-er should in no way be construed as an insult, with some of the comics it’s more about opportunities given than talent) I felt good to be chosen, and ended up having a damn fine set –I definitely stood out, and felt very comfortable and in control. The Comic Strip also went well enough, my first joke did really well but I had to rush through the second one as I was given the light, as was everyone, about two minutes into the four or five minutes we were told to prepare. The light meant to finish up your joke, but seeing as I had only two jokes, the second one about two and a half minutes, it put me in an odd position, so I had to rush through to finish. Still, I did well enough, and was excited to get feedback from the booker. He seemed to like me well enough, told me I needed better punchlines and to tighten things up, which I was fine with until hearing three other people say they received nearly the exact same feedback. It was a stock response, perhaps accurate, but a little disheartening. I wrote it off at first, but after my set at Go Bananas, I did start punching up some jokes. Perhaps that too was just another example of my material not being for everyone, but that doesn’t mean I can’t always be funnier. If nothing else, the first audition showed I’m on people’s radar, which may not get me too far at the moment but is a good sign.
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