The Bag Means Your Mind

A delightful mix of insightful comments and ignorant assumptions about screenwriting... and such.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Stand-up Comedy Experience

So I took my first steps into the world of stand-up comedy. It was a frightening place filled with dreadful punch lines and stale material*. I signed up for the class because I want to develop my comedy writing. I also took it because I’m stupid. You see, having someone actually unload bullets into my helpless body during a dream wasn’t traumatic enough. Somehow, my devious mind has found a way to kick it up a notch.

If I’m not to die suddenly in my sleep, I plan to wither away on stage, slowly.

So why am I doing this? Well, I mentioned gaining experience in Comedy writing but that’s all academic. I’m doing it for the experience itself. I’m doing it because it scares the living hell out of me, and even if I bomb I will have the experience of having done it and another notch on my belt (I guess). The “final” for this class involves actually going out to a comedy club-like establishment and performing in front of strangers. Yeah. Scary.

Stand-up comedy is the latest in a series of misadventures. You see, over the past few years I’ve been snagging chances to raise my experience (and possibly level up in the process). I figure that a screenwriter can benefit from a range of experiences, so every now and again I’ll mosey on out of my comfort zone and try something new. Earlier this year I took up Salsa dancing with my wife, and in December we’re flying to Paris for my first European trip.

Whenever I think about balking at a chance to do something new (I do fear change.) I remind myself that it will help me as a screenwriter. Who knows when I’ll write a screenplay about a French roller coaster enthusiast who enters a Salsa competition. Or maybe a tragedy about a budding stand-up comedian who is hit by a drunk driver head on while traveling home from yoga practice. The possibilities are twofold!

The only problem with the stand-up comedy class is that it is going eat away at my time to finish my football script. So I’ve got to complete my script, learn French, and develop a comedy act in the span of a few months. Wish me luck.

*Apparently jokes about the Prohibition Act are too old.


  • At 10:07 PM, Blogger Mystery Man said…

    I wish you the best of luck, man!

    If you're interested, I have this CRAZY 3,000 word post on my blog on "Comedy Writing Secrets." Of course, you probably already know ALL of those secrets (and you don't need me). However, the post is actually highlights of 3 reviews I wrote on TriggerStreet for the best comedy screenwriter I've ever seen - Algernon Basiljet (Ger), this crazy eccentric in the UK. The volume of comedy in his scripts is just amazing.

    You can read his screenplays on TriggerStreet too. He may very well inspire you...

    Anyway, love your blog.


  • At 12:19 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said…


    I've actually been tempted to go do a stand-up routine at a local club. I've got several minutes of material I would go on with, although I do fear I would bomb.

  • At 12:08 PM, Blogger L.R. Williams said…

    I will give credit where it's due. I wish you the best in this experience & I've gotta see the "final" on stage (whether in person or on video). Good luck!

  • At 12:30 AM, Blogger Brett said…

    Well, I think you're insane.

    There's no joke here—I just think you've lost your freakin mind.

    I could elaborate, but that elaboration would pretty much consist of me just offering various rephrasings of the "you're batshit crazy" sentiment already offered.

    Have fun.

  • At 11:27 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said…

    not sure if I'd actually go to see your act though, Tom. I think it would just be too damn awkward.

  • At 11:39 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said…

    You mean, awkward as in if I totally bomb and don't make a single person laugh, that it will be uncomfortable for you to tell me how funny I was.

    I get that, but know that, right now, I expect to suck up there. The audience will smell fear, and they will feast!

  • At 8:29 AM, Blogger Ryan Rasmussen said…

    What if Evil Tom comes to watch? What then?

  • At 9:15 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said…

    We get into the whole matter/anti-matter thing and it gets real messy.

  • At 1:36 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said…

    Yeah, if you bomb. I pray you don't. But I can picture you telling a punch line and then...silence. Then someone coughs. More silence. Not even the crickets are chirping. Oh, man. you gotta tell me when this is, now that I think about it.

    Don't worry, you'll hit it out of the park. I'm just breaking your balls. You'll be great........(cough)

  • At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Jenifer said…

    I'll come to the show. I'll laugh at you. Ask ryan: one can always count on my cruelty.

  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Brett said…

    I was commenting, and then decided again' it.

    What thoughts I have on the matter might well surface on another site, in another form, at another time.

    Or I might just polish off a bottle of Mexican cough syrup and take a 2 day nap in the yard.

    Ever a party hereabouts....

  • At 11:48 AM, Blogger Brett said…

    This is what happens when I fail to find enough to do:

    I am so ashamed.*

    * not really

  • At 2:32 AM, Blogger wcmartell said…

    Once, when much alcohol was consumed in a comedy club, my friends and I decided to do stand up - we knew we were funnier than some of the folks we'd paid money to see. Open mike night was Monday.

    Out of the table of people, 2 of us actually developed acts and took to the stage by the end of the month. I did my 5 minutes... and people laughed! My friend did his 5 minutes... and people laughed.

    So I went back the following week for open mike with some new material... and people laughed. Also, the MC asked if I would wrote some jokes for him. And the club owner asked if I could fill in if he decided to fire the MC.

    I continued to do open mike (and even one paid gig) for a couple of months until I bombed big time. I thought the audience was going to attack me. There was blood in the water.

    After that, I decided writing jokes for the MC was good enough. I *did* manage to get invited to Bobcat Goldwaithe's bachelor party (first of several - I wasn't invited to the others). I also did some improv characters on a local TV show - I was several unusual guests on a Tonight Show kind of thing hosted by one of the headliners.

    But comedy is not my thing.

    I write action movies, and all of this was just a bet that went on too long.

    Sometimes, I wake up screaming... remembering the time I bombed.

    Good luck!
    - Bill


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