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Little Reid Big City #21

Hello, Reiders. I feel like we’re really beginning to get close now. You treat me so good, and I really appreciate you. Look –we’re so fond of each other.

Happenings: I’m trying to get a tape ready to submit for comedy festivals. Figure it’d be a good way to get out in the comedy world a bit, gather a few more credits to my name. It’s a little more difficult here –I’m not passed at any clubs, and though I’m getting booked regularly on shows it can be hard to get a good tape. Most of the venues aren’t always the most respectable looking; despite having a good set, a coffee shop or a Thai restaurant backdrop may make it not the best choice for a submission. A few comics I know have gone outside the city to make tapes, to Boston or to their home clubs. I’ll be doing a show in Boston in December, so I’m hoping to get a good tape from that, but until then I may have to settle with what I can tape on my flipcam, though it’s no excuse not to submit. I also got head shots today, something I’d been meaning to do but had always put off. It feels good to take some necessary steps outside of writing and performing to help my career.

I talked a few weeks ago with comedian Billy Prinsell. We were getting ready to perform at a hostel in Chelsea, and sat out front discussing how humor works. Billy was a philosophy major in college, and wrote his thesis on comedy. Among other things, he stressed the importance of having a defined character. The comedic character, he said, is a character whose personality is a constant –they remain the same while events go on around them, and humor arises from how they respond to the situation. It does not change them; they maintain a point of view and comment upon each event. This differs from the dramatic character, which does not hold a consistent personality –they change with the events, and are affected deeply by what happens around them. Billy’s comedy reflects this understanding. He is himself, but a highly characterized version of himself, and what he says it not always funny in and of itself, but often is funny only in the context of his well-defined character. He’s a buff guy, a trainer at a gym, seemingly muscle-headed and bro-y, which makes even the mention of Beauty and the Beast or Greek mythology seem hilarious. It’s been giving me a lot to think about. Even the great comedians, Louis CK, Maria Bamford, Doug Stanhope, despite covering a huge breadth of subjects and ways to formulate a joke, are very consistently themselves. You know who they are, what they are, and they can be described fairly easy. This is not a bad thing; it lends a clear context to all their jokes.

On the other hand, I think it’s dangerous to look for so easy a definition. I remember seeing Bobcat Goldthwait a couple years ago at Go Bananas. He’s a big comic, and is known in stand-up for his nervous, voice-cracking, bizarre delivery. It’s a character, clear and obvious. At Go Bananas he abandoned it. He talked normally, told stories, and did a great set. Afterward he talked about how happy he was that he could do that –abandon his character, the trademark voice, just act as he acts and still do well. He said that in other cities he couldn’t get away with that, that if he doesn’t do what he is known for that the crowd won’t respond. The character helped him get to where he is in comedy, but it also eventually became something he resented.

I am trying to maintain a consistency with my humor. With getting up so much each week I find myself working on jokes that I don’t necessarily resonate with, that don’t reflect the qualities that make me a unique comedian. I’ll work on those jokes until I find something I like more that fits my style, and then drop them. I know right away for the most part if a joke is something I will hold on to, not even if it works, but if it fits. It is important to develop a clear style, to provide a context for the audience, a unity to your set. But at the same time I’m wary to define that so early in my comedy career –it will change as I go on, develop and make itself clearer, and limiting myself too early could be something I regret later. I guess it’s a balancing act in the end, between experimenting and looking outside your style to keep yourself interested, and learning to define and exude a specific personality to keep your audience invested. I used to try to guide the audience into my comedy with easier jokes that were more traditional, but changing personalities midway to do a more bizarre kind of comedy (which I enjoyed more) threw them off. By coming out strange, doing simpler but still odd humor up top, I find I gain their trust easier for the rest of the set –I won’t betray them, they trust me because even if they don’t know what to expect, they at least know to expect that.

Little Reid Big City #20

Hello again, Reiders.

I did it! I have now lived in New York City for a year. I am a pleased young man (with myself!). Instead of doing the traditional blog post, to commemorate the occasion I thought I would do something a little different. When I first moved out here, I asked a lot of people for advice, but seeing as I didn’t really know a lot of comedians in New York, most of that advice was terrible. I didn’t know what to expect, where to start, or how to really get involved, so I decided once I did get some kind of grasp on such things, I would try to share it. What follows is some advice for the comedian moving to New York. To make it a little more comprehensive, I’ve turned to other friends who made the move in the last year to get their side of things. Of course there are different ways to approach the move, ways to make it in the scene and entirely other scenes to get involved in here, but I think this can provide good reference for a recent transplant. Hooray!

1. Hang out. Stick around after your set, after the mic/show, and get to know everyone, even if they’re not the best comic. Having friends makes all of this easier, and becoming a part of the scene is almost as important as crafting a new joke. –Me!
2. You HAVE to get a job when you move here. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve saved. It’s better to have a job you hate to pay bills and do mics than run out of money and be miserable. You will lose your mind. There is no way around this. –Andrew Short
3. If you have a car, keep it. Once you get in at clubs or whatever and meet people, if you have a car they might use you for work! It’s crazy but undoubtedly true. That being said, try to make sure you’ve got the chops if you’re invited to do a gig. –Robbie Collier
COUNTER POINT: I got rid of my car after being here a while, never used it, and it is very expensive. You don’t need it for the city, but he is right you can get taken places if you do have it. Weigh the cost versus the opportunities, or maybe keep it somewhere else until you need it.
4. Take advantage of the city. It’s usually better to get up than to watch a show but NY is the best city in the country for comedy and there are a ton of great shows you can see for free, so go out once in awhile. I will never regret skipping a mic at the Creek to watch John Mulaney tape his special. I will also never regret skipping a Saturday mic to go to the beach. –Mark Chalifoux
5. Find a mic you like, and keep showing up. The best way to integrate yourself is to become a fixture -make it easier for people to recognize you. They won’t trust you on stage at first, so earn it. –Me!
COUNTERPOINT: Mix up the mics you do. Don’t get too comfortable in front of one crowd. There are music open mics, club open mics (avoid the ones where you pay an individual, stick to the ones where you buy a drink or pay the room), alt rooms, black rooms, yadda yadda. Do them all and mix up which ones you do. Take out the friendly factor. –Robbie Collier
6. Everyone thinks you need thick skin to be a comic in New York. Not true. You can have thin skin as long as you also have the knack for living with constant feelings of inadequacy, fear, and vague, undirected anger. –Brendan Eyre
7. Learn where all the cheap eats are: dollar pizza, falafel, Vanessa’s Dumplings, etc. It’ll save your ass and your wallet for mic money. –Robbie Collier
8. You have to start your own show. –Andrew Short
COUNTERPOINT: No really, you have to. Wait until you’re integrated a little maybe, but it really helps with everything.
9. Bringer shows are almost always a scam and don’t bark to earn stage time. Your soul will get crushed in plenty of different ways, you don’t need to accelerate that process. –Mark Chalifoux
10. No one pays attention to you unless you’re good. Had a bad set? No one cares. You didn’t lose any opportunities, no one will remember. Be comfortable and get better -that’s when people will remember you. –Me!
11. Every time anything happens to anyone, roll your eyes and say “only in New York.” –Brendan Eyre
12. Get up as often as you can every night. No exceptions. New York truly is the Harvard Law of Comedy. The best of the best are here and every day you take off there are 200 other people getting better. –Robbie Collier
COUNTERPOINT: You need to have a life outside of comedy. –Andrew Short
13. Talk to people. Feels like no one likes you and is ignoring you in the scene? That’s because comics are all awkward, uncomfortable people. Take the first step, say hello, compliment a joke -you’d be surprised how few people are actually assholes. –Me!
14. Become friends with people that are funnier than you are. They will continue to come up with incredible jokes that impress you and will force you to keep pushing yourself as hard as you can to keep pace. Also, you just need people to sign you up for mics. –Mark Chalifoux
15. This one is important: Don’t come here. I’m serious. Stay the fuck home, you cocksucker. –Brendan Eyre


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Little Reid Big City #18

Oh, Reiders, I want to get frank and sexual with you. I want to write a poem with your ink.

There. I hope that’s non sequitur enough of an intro for you. How are you guys? Good? Oh, I’m alright. Thank you for asking.

Over the weekend I got to do my second real road gig since I’ve been here in New York. Did one before at Dartmouth College with Alex Fossella and Angel Costillo (who put on the mighty fine podcast called “The AA Meeting”, that a certain blogger/young man has appeared on/done the logo for (not the elephant one on iTunes. Is it up yet? The one with theirs souls escaping their bodies? Never mind)). It was strange, performing for college kids, all people younger than me; there was a freedom and confidence to it you don’t always get performing to your elders. This last show upped that ante: I performed at a children’s summer camp in Connecticut for a rowdy group of a hundred screaming eight to eleven year olds. In college I used to perform for children at grade schools as part of a volunteer comedy performance group, but that was in a school setting, for older children. This was not near as controlled.

As I took the stage, I came out to a chorus of children screaming, “You’re short! You’re short!” while smaller groups shouted, “You look like an elf!” One child, a nine year old boy, a cute kid with shaggy brown hair in the front, felt it in his heart to yell, “You look like a faggot!” I swear this is true. In his defense, he did not shout it with any malice, rather he shouted it like he had the right answer. It’s near impossible to do real material with kids of this age, let alone this level of hollerin’, regardless of the fact that one of my favorite jokes features phrases such as “shit in an open wound,” “smoosh your butthole into my butthole” and “my cock is so worn, withered, and calloused if I’m going to feel anything during sex it has to be pain.” So mostly I just led the kids in obscure animal impressions (a goat who’s afraid to get married) and fed a young girl a baby carrot from a baggie I’d been carrying around in my pocket all day. She ate the carrot –I’m not sure what it was I felt about this, but the closest word is “pride.” Performing for children is disconcerting in a way: they don’t laugh as a whole. There are pockets of laughter, but it’s as if they don’t know the social cues found in a joke to come together as one. A friend, Eli Sairs, who did the show before me, reasoned that all jokes to some level are a trick, and these kids simply didn’t enjoy being duped –they wanted to outsmart us. Every turn a joke would take they would try to avoid it, shout out the twist or their own punchline, anything to avoid the trick. Or maybe we just don’t know what kids think is funny.

Partway through the next comic’s set, a child ran on stage threatening to give him a wedgie. He agreed, on the condition he could give the boy one first. Not only did he give the kid a wedgie, he also enraged some of the parents watching, including the wife of the camp director. The next morning we were informed the second show was cancelled, we needed to leave the camp immediately, and that the camp counselor (and fellow comedian/friend Joel Walkowski) would be demoted. I’m not sure, but I think that means the trip was awesome.

Back in New York things have gone decently enough. I stopped hosting my open mic –it can be a good opportunity and a good service, but it was becoming tedious and seemingly worthless. I’m still co-producing Underbelly, and will soon start helping a friend produce her monthly stand-up show, so I figure two actual shows are worth at least one mic. I don’t really have much more to talk about.

I guess I just really wanted to tell you that a nine year old called me a “faggot.”

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Little Reid, Big City #17


Hello Reiders!

I like how my standard opening has gone from being ironic to heartfelt through the power of repetition. In some ways it upsets me, but then I calm down, and think about how much I love you all, then I feel better.

A couple weeks ago I co-produced my first show! Underbelly, the show I mentioned in last month’s blog post, finally had its New York premier, and it went damn fine. The whole premise is “Stand-Up Comedians Doing Everything but Stand-Up” –which I can happily say we more than delivered. Throughout the show there was a magic show, several skits, songs, dancing, puppets, myself topless covered in “cocaine”, and comic Nick Vatterott doing something with milk jugs that though I did not quite understand, left me full of pleasures and smiles. The show was pretty packed, we had a cake decorated like one of the performers “taking a shit in an ice cream sundae” and overall I was well pleased. Other comics are coming up to me pretty frequently with ideas, asking how to get on Underbelly –if I had any regret, it was waiting this long to put on a show.

It was a good highlight, which provided some wonderful perspective for a somewhat crushing low. Back in March I had my first audition for the Comic Strip, a respected New York comedy club, and after the second lottery I received my second audition spot, which I performed at last Tuesday night. The format was different: the audition itself was a show, complete with live judging, a proper host (Sherrod Small), a packed crowd, and an admittedly forced degree of severity and drama added to the show to make it interesting. “The judges are going to be mean, they’re going to try to rip you apart on stage, but it’s part of the show, don’t worry about it,” was what we were told before performing. My last audition went well enough; one of my jokes really connected, the other fell a little flat after rushing through it upon getting the light early. This was considerably worse. After waiting a couple hours, first for the show to start then for the long judging rounds to finish, I finally had my time to perform –for a minute and a half. Before me, each comic had their full time, the three to five minutes we were told we could perform, everyone getting five and some good feedback from the crowd. I got through one bit and the set-up for another before being audibly buzzed and forced to stop. “Maybe this kind of stuff will work downtown, but it would never work here. You’re too alt to work here.” “You didn’t even tell jokes, that’s the problem, you sat up there for five minutes and never told a joke.” And so on. One of the judges stood up for me a bit, arguing that I didn’t even have the time to get anywhere, that I was doing something different and no one knew what to expect, and we didn’t find out what I was even going to do. “He was trying something new and different, I don’t see why we can’t have a comic like this work here.” The crowd responded well to that, before the booker interrupted and pointed out that they weren’t laughing, that’s why acts like mine wouldn’t be booked. Finally I asked, “Please, I just have to know: did I get passed or not?”

Afterwards, the booker talked with me, this time friendly and complimentary. He thanked me for being a good sport, and told me that he liked that I was different, that I shouldn’t let go of that, that if this were an alternative room he’d book me in a heartbeat, and that he likes the weirder stuff but it just doesn’t work for this room. Great. The whole thing’s given me a lot to think about. I know what I’m doing is strange, isn’t stand-up in a conventional sense, and I understood going in that what I planned to do isn’t what they prefer. But to not even be given the time to do anything, to be cut off before I even had a chance to show what it is that I do, that was rough. At least when I look at it I can’t say I had a bad set –I just didn’t have a set. Matters were slightly complicated when my roommate followed me, riffed with the judges beautifully and got both passed to work at the club and received management in the same night. It’s not always fun to have one of your worst nights in comedy a few minutes before one of your closest friends has his best. But in all honesty, though of course it hurts a bit to see someone else get opportunities you didn’t, I can’t be anything but proud for him. The timing, perhaps, stings a little, but it’s good to see someone talented get what’s coming to them. I hope that’s some kind of maturity.

In summary: it was a miserable experience. It left me doubting my material in a club setting, feeling embarrassed, a bit angry, and further frustrated from the booker’s positive comments and the suspicion that the harsh treatment was only for the sake of the show, which is a wonderful way to treat my only opportunity in a year. But oddly, I feel confident about it all. It was one of the worst experiences I could’ve had in that setting, and that’s made performing far easier since then. I performed the first two jokes twice at shows last night, to great reception, and have been taking a lot more risks with what I choose to perform –why not? It couldn’t be much worse than that. Somehow, it’s made comedy and writing new material go a lot smoother this last week. After that night, amid the support and nice words from my friends, I heard plenty of stories about the amazing comics the venue has ignored and rejected in the past. Here’s hoping I can be one of them.

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Little Reid, Big City #16

Reiders.

I am so sorry. This blog has gone by the wayside as of late –I have ignored you, turned my back on my Reidership, and for this, I sincerely apologize. If you truly love something, let it go, and if it comes back (as I hope you do, Reiders) then the love you had was real. Let me tell you, Reiders, it’s real. When I look in your eyes I see mine reflected back. And then I kiss you.

I’ve been actually planning this blog for a while, as I think it both offers some more insight into the day to day life of comedy in New York, and also helps explain why I haven’t been updating as frequently. Essentially, it boils down to this: it’s hard to be a person out here. I feel like I’m definitely a comedian out here now, I’ve committed a lot to it, am getting better, and am showing a good deal of dedication, but a comedian is not a person. A person, for example, when they find ants everyday in their bedroom for a month, might do something about it. A person might make himself dinner more than once every three weeks, or take the time to buy groceries more than once a month to make that dream even possible. I’m not quite a person. Between work, comedy, a new girlfriend (hey!), and the basic errands I have to do (sleep, eating bad pizza at the only restaurant open in Astoria after 11), I don’t get time for much else. I tend to wake up everyday at 6:40, get to work by 8:30, leave at 5:30, get to a mic by 6, do that until 8, head to another mic that gets out around 10, get on the train and back to Astoria by 11 (12 if I decide to talk to people) and wake up the next day to do it again. There is literally no time in the day for almost anything else. If I take a night off, which I try to do a night or two a week, or take an early night with only one mic, that time left over I’ll likely spend with my girlfriend (hey!) or trying to write. It took me nine months to change banks. During that time I had to send every check I got back to Fort Wayne, IN for my mom to put in the bank for me. That is not something a person would do.

For a little this was far too daunting. Yet, I’ve found trying to do less comedy to make more time for personal living doesn’t really help matters. I feel like I don’t progress as much at comedy, that I write less, do worse, and feel bad about the level of commitment I lose by sacrificing time to eat at a normal hour and sleep the amount “doctors” say I should. I’m going to try the opposite. I read the heavily recommended book The War of Art, and will be taking some advice from it. The reason I feel bad isn’t because I have ants, forget to water my plants or no longer floss; it’s because I’m not committing myself enough. If I can really dedicate myself to comedy and put in time I can feel proud of, my person-life won’t be a bother, because the comedy-life will be fulfilled.

Beyond that, things have been going well. The open mic has been getting a lot more fun –there’s lots of shouting, Christmas music, and poorly choreographed dancing between my co-host Andrew Short and me. The turnout isn’t too high, but the comics performing have been having a good time; the energy is high, and we actually enjoy doing it. Also: bigger news! We finally booked a (hopefully) monthly show! It took a while, and most other avenues ended up being dead ends, but what we got is far better than I would’ve hoped for. Andrew, fellow comedian Kelly Fastuca, and I are producing a show called Underbelly, which is an extension of the show Andrew and I used to do in Cincinnati of the same name. We got it booked for an upcoming Saturday at the Creek and the Cave, easily our favorite venue in town. Now that it’s booked, we begin the process of putting on a show –booking, promoting, organizing, and finally putting it on. It’s more pressure to put into the mix, but I think it will help me a lot. I’ll be keeping you up to date on all that.

I love you all so goddamn much.

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Little Reid, Big City #15

Reiders,

I feel a bond between us, strengthening with every blog. I can feel you, I can hear you, I can see you. I can imagine you, tears gently streaming down your cheeks, your eyes –bloodshot, filled with emotion- gazing over every word I write, and in your heart, finding a fullness you thought only achievable through a life in Christ. In many ways, you are baptized by these blogs, though instead of Jesus –Reid. Instead of water –dick jokes.

That joke I wrote about last time (Dog Dick/Baby Bottom) really pulled me out of the joke slump I was in. I’ve been trying a lot of new things at mics, perhaps even things I’m not entirely interested in, but just to challenge myself. In a recent joke, I try to find how many times I can get away with saying “apple”, and so it turns out: about 85 times. It’s a great exercise in repetition, requires a lot of confidence, but lately I’ve been pulling it off to very agreeable results. Last Monday, I attempted to do a five minute set only using one-liners. I’m not a one-liner comic by any stretch, most of my bits end up at around the two to three minute mark, but I like a lot of jokes I’ve written for twitter and thought, “Hell, why not?” It’s very different doing such quick jokes, and I wasn’t quite adapted to that kind of humor, but out of the fifteen jokes I tried I found some definite possibilities in a few of them. Now I’m beginning to think that perhaps there is a place for shorter jokes in my humor, as long as they match with the style I’m developing. I’ve also been attempting more personal material, even talking about quasi-political opinions a little, and while it’s not something I feel a huge calling to pursue, it’s helping me grow and expand my range as a performer. No matter what you do as a comic, the audience can only handle so much of the same thing, so I figure it’s good to stretch out as such.

Also: I’m going to be hosting an open mic starting next week! At the beginning of the year, I wrote down a list of goals, and among those I included hosting an open mic, and running at least a monthly booked show (working on venues! Soon!). It’s led me to seriously consider what I look for in open mics, the atmosphere I want to develop. I took a train to a show I was doing recently with (damn good) comedian Mike Lawrence, and we spent a lot of time talking about the open mic scene, where it’s flawed and where it shines. He said something that stuck out to me: “Every open mic is living. They’re living things –and you know that because they all can die.” He talked about treating each mic not as just an opportunity to work through your jokes, but to make the experience something one-of-a-kind, to make it special and fun. Last week I did a mic at the Eastville comedy club (where I’ll be hosting mine) where the beginning was amazingly rowdy; everyone was shouting at the host, laughing, getting into fights between comics, and generally going insane. There was a palpable energy, and everyone did better because of it. I just this week did another mic there, where despite being more filled, the atmosphere was essentially static. Everyone sat still and emotionless, not so patiently waiting for their time to perform. You could tell that the other mic was living, because this one was certainly dead. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what leads to either outcome, but it’s definitely about the feel you build, how the host starts off the show, the people involved, the looseness of it all. It’s a lot of intangibles, but so many people do it well, so I know that creating a “living mic” is not only possible, but consistently possible. We’ll see how I do with it next week!

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Little Reid, Big City #14


By Reid Faylor

Reiders!

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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LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #13

By Reid Faylor

Dear Reiders,

Looking back, may discover hard times in this blog. A few months back I went through a pretty rough comedy depression. I hated mostly everything I had done, wasn’t doing well on stage, and ended up spending a week where I didn’t write, perform, or really leave the apartment except to buy more ice cream (to feed the sadness). I think it stands as a testament to my new work ethic that the similar episode I just had only took a weekend to run its course. It was a weekend of staying in, watching Rocko’s Modern Life, and doing very little comedy. It was probably necessary: at a mic on Friday I pushed myself to go onstage despite not feeling like it, and continued to abandon a joke twice in order to talk to the microphone stand, an inanimate object, who did its best to console me. “If I had arms I would hug you,” it said. I then kissed the microphone stand.

Coming out of it on Monday I had a new focus and some insight as to why I was so down. There are plenty of highs and lows doing comedy, and after a number of highs I hit a few lows –some of my recent jokes weren’t feeling right, weren’t getting great reactions, and probably more importantly: in the last month I experienced two deaths in my family and broke up with my girlfriend. I think taking a break with my lady-person affected me a hell of a lot and continues to affect me, as it really stands as my last concrete link with my life in Ohio and college. Saying goodbye to that, despite the good terms we left it on, has shaken me up a bit.

Remedies! Monday was full of some good thinking, and I decided on a few things to keep me motivated. First: starting a show. This is one of those New York necessities –having your own show means stage time for you and your peers, it gives you an opportunity to connect with some of the comics at a level higher than yourself, and it also gives you some more shows of your own to perform at via a “you scratch my back I scratch yours” methodology. We contacted a couple musicians in a Jurassic Park themed post-rock duo (You Bred Raptors?) we’ve come to know and like, and we’re laying the groundwork for a late night type variety program with a house band (YBR?), comic performances and skits. The only obstacle is finding a suitable venue. A lot of bars here have back rooms or basements for performances, but it’s hard to find the right one and in an area that isn’t oversaturated already with comedy. If for some reason you know of a venue in Astoria please let me know. Reiders, I’m reaching out to you. It can be a long process; we’ve already tracked down a few places, got contact information, contacted them, and were then subsequently ignored. And even upon finding a space, I know a lot of people whose shows were canceled young by their venue, or venues who were so hard to deal with that the show took its own life. Regardless, it is a crucial step.

Back to the girlfriend business: it feels weird to know with certainty that I’ll be definitely staying in New York. I knew in my heart I couldn’t really leave, having gained and continuing to gain so much from it, but there was still some kind of deadline, some way out perhaps, to leave and be with her. A link to a life outside of comedy. For better or worse, that is gone now. I have comedy and not much else. I work a 9-5 job, do comedy after that, and go to bed. It’s just good I still love it so much and have built a great community of friends that even though perhaps I am less of a “normal” personal with “normal” experiences, the life I have now is one I would never give up. I’m in this all the way now, and I’m not leaving. Now to just stop feeling sad about it! However, spring is almost here, the weather is warmer, and out of that weekend funk I already have new things to be excited about and have been hitting the mics pretty hard, so my mood is definitely optimistic. I have a couple auditions coming up (more on those later) and a trip back to Cincinnati, so there will be plenty to lift my spirits. Yes.

Little Reid, Big City #12

By Reid Faylor

Reiders. Hello. You are important to me and I love you.

I love you.

Last Saturday I engaged in one of those seminal comedy experiences – a club audition. It was announced earlier in the week and spread at every mic by word of mouth that the New York Comedy Club would be holding an open audition at 2 o’clock on Saturday. Thus, myself and a gang of persons gathered at about 11:30 outside the doors to grab our spots in line. I had a great set at the audition, didn’t get passed but had quite an enjoyable time – the crowd of only comics was surprisingly really supportive and positive, and three of my close comedy friends got the cherished guest spots we were all auditioning for. Honestly though, waiting in line was probably the most fun. I was at full “Reid” – I was very comfortably myself, making up vaguely violent dances and changing the lyrics of “Like a Rolling Stone” so they were about putting an action figure into your bottom until it bleeds and you have to call a doctor. Essentially: I was being an idiot. But this is the way I act when I’m very comfortable; it’s how I acted in Cincinnati with the comedians there. It only just dawned on me that in the past couple months I have hit the level of comfort again.

It’s amazing what a supportive group of people can do to one’s comedy. There’s a group of about ten of us now that are all pretty close – we write together, hang out, give each other feedback and lines. I feel like I grew a lot when I came out here to nothing – my confidence was shattered and my comedy abilities felt abysmal; I had to build myself up again. But among this group of comics, I’m finding new growth now that I’m again in a place of comfort. I feel like I’ve been really hitting my stride lately, and I think it has a lot to do with my mindset for doing stand-up. With the knowledge that there’s a group of people I can trust to support and like me even if I’m shitty on stage, I’m writing and performing less to impress people, and more to have fun. The bits I’ve been writing aren’t about proving anything; they’re about being an idiot in the way I enjoy so thoroughly. I’m doing better at a lot of mics, even the ones with more negative atmospheres. I’m having fun again.

This scene can be very cliquey, hard to get into – it can be easy to feel like an outsider, mostly because there are some people who are happy to tell you that you don’t belong. Those comics stood out at first, seemed like the nature of the scene, but of course they stand out: the person you’re afraid to perform in front of is harder to miss than the person you’re comfortable with. With this group of comics I’m getting closer to, it’s good to see the alternative to that attitude. At a mic a few weeks back, my friend Greg Stone (a damn fine comedian/person) was the first to embody that alternative in my mind. A comic went on stage and immediately started ripping on the comedian before him. The comedian was clearly pretty new, and this wasn’t a friendly rib about her material, it was a clear attack on her ideas themselves. The mood immediately tightened, and Greg responded the way I feel a good comic should – he immediately yelled at the guy.

“Hey! That’s not cool!”

“What?” responded the comic on stage.

“Don’t make fun of other people’s jokes.”

It was so strange to hear someone actually standing up to another comic, trying to stop that negativity from ruining a show. Somehow, that moment put me immediately at ease. It was good to see that the comics who stood out at first, intimidating and hard to impress, were not necessarily the norm. It’s good to know people like Greg exist out here, people who actively support other comics and actually try to make comedy less miserable – after all, it doesn’t really need the help.

Guest sentences!

Andrew Short (had a birthday, this is his birthday present): “Reid, do you think this is a zit or a boil?”

Dean Masello (had a birthday, this is his birthday present): “The most difficult part of my day is resisting the urge to eat your peanut butter.”

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In response to Andrew: it later turned out to be a gummy bear. In response to Dean: we spent twenty minutes debating whether this was a good guest sentence. We settled on the fact that it was okay, because twenty minutes debating a guest sentence in some ways defeats the point of a guest sentence.

LITTLE REID, BIG CITY #11

By Reid Faylor

Reiders!

You’ve returned to me! How glad I am to see you back! Truly, if you love something, set it free, and if it returns –as you did– then it was meant to be. Tell me, Reiders, did you know our fates were spun together? Did you know that this moment was written on our hearts?

I love you.

Happenings! Last week I performed that 20 minute set I was booked for (discussed in the last blog post) and ended up headlining the show, having one of the best sets of the night. It was great to do so much time, especially as a good feature set has been my goal now for a while. Before I came out to New York, I had felt I was getting ready to start featuring –I had the time, I liked the jokes, it had been hinted at by the owner of my home club. But there’s a big difference between being able to do a feature set and doing one you would be proud of. It’s no longer that I simply have enough jokes that I could string together for 25 minutes. From constant performing and writing and revising I now have a series of polished bits that get consistent reactions, stand out, and are fun to do. Of course I still need to get used to that amount of time, learn how to use it properly and get more comfortable in it, but I now feel my material is where it should be for that kind of set.

I feel like I’m getting closer to finding my voice. I know the kind of jokes I like to do, and it’s not a small specific kind –I constantly use Jack Handy of “deep thoughts” fame to explain. In his essays and writings, he covers a wide variety of topics, a wide variety of formats –rarely does he reuse material or beat the same idea or kind of joke to death. Rather, Jack Handy has perfected a brand of humor. He has a point of view, a persona, a series of subject matters and particular way of phrasing things so that as diverse as his jokes may be, they have a unique Jack Handy feel to them that’s in some ways as hard to pinpoint as it is easy to instantly recognize. That’s my big goal: I want not just a character on stage, a gimmick or a demographic to call my own, I want an entire brand of humor. I’m not there yet, I may never fully be, but now more than ever I can sense that my steps are in the right direction. I have a new found certainty in my writing, I’m not just writing jokes, I’m really writing “Reid jokes.” Or maybe I’m just arrogant.

Finally, highlight of the (last two) week(s): I did an open mic a Friday or two ago, in a strange Asian-urban performance venue. Somehow, between the five minute set of the guy before me and my set, the hosts managed to spend 45 minutes introducing other people from the bar, including a fight choreographer/martial artist who spent twenty minutes sharing karate stories, illustrating a round house kick, sparring with his wife, and most notably chopping a cucumber in half on my stomach with a sword. I’m not sure what I learned from this. I didn’t even learn “don’t do that again,” because it got a really good reaction when after he left I came on stage to do my set. I’m afraid I now I associate “threatening my own life” with “doing a good job!” Hooray?

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