Every weekend I open up my Facebook account to see a large amount of my comedian friends claiming they killed, crushed, slaughtered, or any other term that implies mass destruction of comedic proportions. If audiences were one specific ethnicity you would swear there was massive genocide every weekend. A holocaust at every comedy club.
Comedy is built on hyperbole. We take an every day occurrence and make it larger than life to suck you into our story. Has anybody every really almost had a stroke over stepping in dog poop? I doubt it. And if so that person needs medication quickly and is unfit to cohabitate with the rest of us. We exaggerate. And that is fine…when you are on stage.
The truth is if you are a professional comedian you are suppose to do well. Every joke is supposed to get a laugh. Certain jokes are supposed to get applause breaks. You are not killing, crushing, avalanching, typhooning or any other exaggeration. You are doing your job as a professional comedian. You are doing it well but that is your job. If you are an amateur comedian who is pretty new chances are you don’t even know what those words really mean and there is even a greater chance you have not done them. Relax. Not every show is the best show ever. If you claim it is then I won’t believe you when you really do have that show. I am sure I am not alone in that sentiment.
Before Facebook, late at night veteran comedians would gather around a burger deluxe, fries, pecan pie and swap war stories of shows that did not go well. They were some very interesting stories that were often hilarious, realistic, and if you paid attention you could actually learn something. It built a comradery as you felt like ok I am not the only one who had a show that was an utter nightmare. It happened to so and so and he has been doing comedy 20 years and has a ton of tv credits. If it can happen to him it can happen to anyone…and it does! Now with social media it just seems like comedians are in a competition to feed their own egos and acquire as many likes as possible. Comedians are needy people. I mean we need to be loved by a group of strangers which makes very little sense but it is what fuels many of us. Now with social media it seems like that neediness has spilled over beyond the stage. I was so awesome last night please “like” my post and bask in my brilliance.
I think on tomorrow’s Davin’s Den I will go a bit more in depth about the downfalls of creating the illusion that we “kill” every weekend and every show is perfect. And I do believe there are some very real downfalls to this that is making our job that much harder. For the record I do have a definition of “killing” or “crushing.” In my mind if you get a standing ovation (and not one where the comic prompts the audience to stand…yeech!) or the audience clamors for an encore, you have indeed killed and in that audience’s mind gone way above what is expected. It is hard to get a room of people to rise and applaud or demand more show after you have given them 30, 45, or 60 minutes of fun. I have done it a few a times. I have seen other comedians do it on occasion but I assure you it is not happening every weekend or every month. It is special. It is awesome. It is killing!