What I learned from my dentist.

18 07 2013
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Was it the Novocain or did I get some wisdom during my inlay?

I had a dentist appointment today. I was told “It’ll be an hour – max”. So, three hours and $1000 later (to be paid in installments), I walked out of there with a little more drool than when I came in, a little more difficulty speaking and a little more wisdom. 

As an aside, my dentist told me: “there was nothing more you could have done to avoid this – it is just mechanical – the structure of your teeth”, which was as close to a break-up “It’s not you, it’s me” speech I have ever had at the dentist.

He was talking to me (he was doing all the talking) about how much more difficult it is being a business person today with all the social media and distractions. Sure, it can be a huge help but he had said that some major investment he made a while ago would never have been done today because he would have had so much anxiety from reading and listening to what everyone else, including the competition, was saying.

A while ago, I wrote about how I felt I was the only loser on Facebook who hadn’t opened for someone big, was on the verge of a development deal, won some contest, etc. It’s all noise. It’s all a distraction. Dentist, comedian, tinker, spy – it doesn’t matter. Have faith in what you are doing, where you are going (even if it is undefined) and resolute that you have what it takes to keep plugging along.

If that doesn’t convince you, I highly recommend the Novocaine.

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Little Things Mean a Lot (Link to Ryan Singer)

16 07 2013
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A thankful comedian…what?

 

This is such a great blog post from a comedian who is gaining national traction – Ryan Singer. It is a very humbling perspective and says a lot of the things that are humbling to not only comedians but anyone who is trying something scary, different, new and trying to find their way through it.

Thanks to Ryan Singer for the blog post!

http://ryansingercomedy.com/little-things-mean-the-most-when-you-stand-up/comment-page-1#comment-1117

 





FEATURE BLOGGER LANCE MANION – WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE DAILY SHOW?

16 07 2013
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Author and guest blogger Lance Manion looks out and contemplates a different perspective.

 

You have to wonder what George Carlin would make of the new direction “comedy” is taking. Nowhere is this new product more glaringly on display than weeknights on the Comedy Channel in the 1-2 punch that is The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

Everything that is wrong with humor boiled down to one hour.

I know Bill Hicks would agree with me when I say comedy is supposed to be corrosive to institutions. The laugh comes when you shine a light on something, not attempt to cover it up .John Stewart (whether he’s at the desk or not) has become nothing more than a shill for the Democratic party. Relentlessly attacking their perceived enemies, marginalizing their scandals and trying to make Obama and the rest of the gang appear as anything but the lying scumbags they are.

He is using humor the same way that Pat Robertson and Rick Warren would if it were physically possible for them to be funny.

Whether it’s Bill Maher on the left or Dennis Miller on the right, somehow these comedians now think they are intellectuals because they managed to have a room full of people clap at anything that comes out of their empty heads. When a comedian goes from mocking things to believing that they have some answers there is no going back. I would as soon look for political insights from the guy who collects the shopping carts down at the local supermarket.

I think John Stewart needs to sit in a room and watch Death To Smoochie again.

You’re not a bright man John, you just play one on TV.

There is no denying that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have the best writers in the game but at some point they have to realize that if they are taking a side in politics, whichever side that might be, than they are on the wrong side.

In Washington they are all crooks. All of them. There is no side to be on and as comedians they should be the first to recognize that if they are not impartial then they have left the reservation.

Look at the bleating sheep that make up their audiences now. It’s terrifying to watch them. Imagine a Greek chorus that walks into the studio with their thumbs already down. Watching John and Stephen throwing them the same safe platitudes every night is hugely disappointing. If ever a group of people was ripe for being torn apart it’s these path-of-least-resistance morons.

 I can only imagine, let’s be fair and admit I have no idea, how intoxicating the kool-aid is but I implore these shows not to drink it. Once a comedian chooses a side they become nothing more than a pawn. The men and women at The Daily Show should be ashamed of themselves. Once you think you know what the hell is up you are doomed. Comedians need to be equal parts brave and stupid. They can’t worry about consequence or even the state of the world. Their job is to attack the status quo. Provoke. Offend.

Everyone, not just those that they disagree with.

And they can’t believe that they are the smartest person in the room. Ever. The smug, self-satisfied look that now seems seared onto the face of John Stewart is troubling. What was it the Joker said … you either die young or live long enough to see yourself become the bad guy? Or, even worse, a sacred cow. It is no coincidence, by the way, that his name happens to be The Joker.  I can’t help but feel that these writers have taken the original spirit of the program and turned it into a grotesque parody of itself.

They went from fighting the power to becoming the power. The Ministry of Humor. Belittling anyone who disagrees with their agenda. The fool has picked up the crown and found it to his liking.

And because of that I’m forced to say the unpopular thing. I’m forced to stand against the show that everybody loves. To hoist the trembling fist in the direction of Comedy Central and say …

Death To Smoochie!

Death To Smoochie!

 

Lance Manion is the author of four short story collection; Merciful FlushResults May VaryThe Ball Washer his latest one Homo sayswhaticus. He contributes to many online flash fiction sites and blogs daily on his website www.lancemanion.com . He finds the na at the end of banana as annoying as you would if it were bananana.
 
Contact info: webpageFacebookTwitterLinkedIn




TOP TEN TOP TEN COMEDY LISTS (or What I did on my summer vacation)

13 07 2013
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Because nothing says “I can’t think of anything to write” more than a Top 10 list.

 

 

It is raining (again) here in the Northeast of these great (ok, let’s downgrade that to these “hangin’ in there”) United States of America. 

Not sure why but seems like the perfect setting for a Top 10 List. The first that comes to mind is “Top 10 Commercials for Depression Medication” but I like to keep my expectations to a dull roar – you know, under -promise and over deliver. Or, in my case: under-promise and see what happens.

So, without further adieu (or ado…or a dew), from the archives of me, or as some say it “from my archives” which I think just sounds too grammatically correct, here are THE TOP 10 TOP 10 COMEDY LISTS.

1. TOP TEN Funniest Stand-Up Comedians (AKA “TOP TEN funniest stand-up comedians that appeared on the 1st page of an older Google search, followed by the next 190 funniest)

http://www.thetoptens.com/funniest-stand-up-comedians/

2. TOP TEN Funniest You Tube Comedians ( who are more than welcome to look me up and give me a chance)

http://www.thetoptens.com/best-youtube-comedians/

3. TOP TEN Mistakes New Comics Made (#11 was reading Top Ten Lists)

http://rockinjoe.hubpages.com/hub/Top-Ten-Mistakes-Made-By-New-Comedians

4. TOP TEN Tips for Becoming a Successful Comedy Actor (clearly, I should have waited on that  boob job)

http://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/acting-teachers/the-top-10-tips-for-becoming-a-successful-comedy-actor/

5. TOP TEN Tips for Comedy Writers (I’m more of a comedy typer, myself)

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/10-ways-to-improve-your-writing-while-thinking-like-a-comedy-writer

6. TOP 10 Essential Comedians (NOTE: these are not “best”, but “essential” for the way they marketed themselves (see my previous blog in a shameless cross-plug of my own blog)

http://comedians.about.com/od/top10lists/tp/10essentialcomedians.htm

7. TOP TEN Tips for Your Comedy Open Mic (two words: clean underwear)

http://www.taltopia.com/articles/36/

8. TOP TEN Tips for Being a Great Comedy Show Host (can you say “brand new car giveaway?”)

http://www.bigbencomedy.com/blog/archives/ten-steps-to-become-a-great-emcee-host/

9. TOP TEN Ways to Increase your Facebook Fans (AKA “How to take your procrastination and time suck to the next level”)

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/02/29/10-powerful-tips-to-increase-fan-engagement-on-facebook/

10. TOP TEN Considerations for Writing for a Late Night Show (note: there are 11 but 11 is the new 10 so get over it)

http://saraschaefer.com/2012/12/things-to-consider-when-submitting-to-write-for-a-late-night-show/

 





Confession #983 – What I learned from Cyndi Lauper

11 07 2013
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Cyndi was a great marketer.

It was only a matter of time until I weaved Cyndi into a blog post. Most of my comedian friends don’t realize what a huge Cyndi Lauper fan I was growing up. Weird, I know.

Between the fact that she was prominent in wrestling with Lou Albano, which was a bonding experience for my grandfather and I, and the fact that I thought she was just a tremendous talent (you have to get beyond “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”), I was, and to a certain extent still am, a big fan. If you need convincing, look up her live performance of “Money Changes Everything”.

The name of her breakthrough album says it all: “She’s So Unusual”. Why? Whether you love her, like her or hate her, Cyndi realized the value of having a personal brand. I read an article where she told the reporter how kids used to throw rocks at her for having her own style. In the 80s, she parlayed that into the weird girl with rock solid pipes who shaved one side of her head, dressed like a punk rocker that had an accident with a 5 year old girl’s dress-up play chest at the Salvation Army, dyed her hair red and talked like a cross between Betty Boop and Peg Bundy. Of course, it was an act. But it worked! And, I have to mention this – if you have ever seen her live or even in an interview – she has an awesome sense of humor. That goes a long way with me for anyone.

So, what did Cyndi teach me? It was about cutting through all the “noise” out there. I studied marketing and have been in the marketing field for quite some time now. Differentiation is the name of the game. You never really know how creative you can be until you are tasked with differentiating 256 pages of safety products in a catalog. Let’s be honest, safety gloves, safety glasses and yes, even wipes aren’t that sexy. Though I wasn’t a fan of the company, it was one of the best professional growth experiences I had though I didn’t realize it at the time. It really forced me to think about who I was targeting, how to get their attention and stand-out. We get so pumped by those creative Super Bowl ads. Please – I’d be happy to market Budweiser or Doritos instead of a cleanroom outfit any day of the week. When was the last time you saw someone getting an award for differentiating a nitrile safety glove?

This brings me to comedy. Who is your audience; people with a good sense of humor? That’s like a musician saying his audience is people who like to listen to good music. 

In my last blog, I wrote a little about the journey of finding my voice on stage. It is just important to find your audience and what you’re about.  What’s your area of focus? I love listening to Louis CK. He’s a master but I could never do his material and make it sound authentic, regardless of how much I may agree with it. However, I don’t know too many Jewish guys from a small town who had their first job out college working with sewage treatment plants and a propensity for getting searched almost every single time he steps into an airport. Now, I just have to find out who that may appeal to. It might be a pretty small audience at first. It’s probably not the same crowd who appeals to other comics but that’s ok. There’s room for us all. We can also appeal to many different audiences.

So, instead of feeling like we’re all competing for the same audience, why not take this to the next level and differentiate ourselves and then help support and market each other? Rejection is par for the course. If I can help a fellow comic out, why not: “Oh – you don’t think my type of comedy works for your club? Ok, how about (insert name here) – she’s hilarious and would work great.”

Stay tuned for future feature blogs – hopefully one from a comedy club booker that will give you his perspective on what he looks for and how a comic could better target the best places that he/she should perform. Also, what do you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts on this site.

 

 





Confession #751 – I’m only a 25%.

11 07 2013
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“Remember this is the hardest thing there is to do. If you can do this you can do anything.”

I recently read a posting on The Nerdist that featured Bill Hick’s Principles of Comedy. I’m only at 25% of them – at best. I am sure you have heard or read many of these before but I think they are so spot-on and appreciate their no-nonsense simplicity.

Bill Hick’s says if you can do comedy, you can do anything. Ok – I get the point but I also don’t want to disrespect people who are saving lives, cleaning toilets – doing stuff I much rather NOT do. But if you take the point in the context in which it is meant, yes – it’s hard.

How many of these principals can you honestly say you comply with? I think I’m at about 3 if I was to be totally honest …and why wouldn’t I be?

My biggest struggle is stage presence. I can feel that it is lacking. Again – me being totally honest.

It is so strange, too, because people who really know me are always commenting to me how animated I am but when it comes to strangers, I guess it’s just not natural. I have tried to “pretend” I am telling my stories to people I know well, but it doesn’t come off genuine. I have also tried telling my stories just as is, without any treatment – just see how it goes. That isn’t quite it, either.

The posting in which Bill Hick’s principles were referenced were written by Chris Hardwick and in his article, he addresses the issue of finding one’s voice. I like what he has to say, though it is hard for someone like me to hear as I am someone who wants to sometimes have a formula or process to follow. Basically, it’s just getting up there and keep trying and it will eventually come to you – but it will take time. He also reminds you to have fun. Right! That was sort of the point in the first place, wasn’t it?

Here are the principles of comedy Chris reprinted as per Bill Hicks – definitely worth a reminder look at least once per week.

BILL HICKS’S PRINCIPLES OF COMEDY

1. If you can be yourself on stage nobody else can be you and you have the law of supply and demand covered.

2. The act is something you fall back on if you can’t think of anything else to say.

3. Only do what you think is funny, never just what you think they will like, even though it’s not that funny to you.

4. Never ask them is this funny – you tell them this is funny.

5. You are not married to any of this shit – if something happens, taking you off on a tangent, NEVER go back and finish a bit, just move on.

6. NEVER ask the audience “How You Doing?” People who do that can’t think of an opening line. They came to see you to tell them how they’re doing, asking that stupid question up front just digs a hole. This is The Most Common Mistake made by performers. I want to leave as soon as they say that.

7. Write what entertains you. If you can’t be funny be interesting. You haven’t lost the crowd. Have something to say and then do it in a funny way.

8. I close my eyes and walk out there and that’s where I start, Honest.

9. Listen to what you are saying, ask yourself, “Why am I saying it and is it Necessary?” (This will filter all your material and cut the unnecessary words, economy of words)

10. Play to the top of the intelligence of the room. There aren’t any bad crowds, just wrong choices.

11. Remember this is the hardest thing there is to do. If you can do this you can do anything.

12. I love my cracker roots. Get to know your family, be friends with them.





Confession # 357 – The Epic Fail

9 07 2013
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If at first you epically fail, try, try, again…preferably with a light sabre.

So, I am not sure if it is age related or not but in being around a lot of 12 year olds lately (yes, it’s all legal), I have heard the term “Epic Fail” more than I care to recount.

I am here to make two confessions.

1. I was not familiar with this term though a simple Google search has proven that I clearly was kidnapped by aliens for a while and returned to an Earth where this phrase has taken off.

2. I fail all the time. I mean ALL the time. In fact, I am really looking forward to the time when I can be one of those stories you read about where the crazy person kept trying and failing until voila! – something actually worked.

You may wonder what this has to do with you, comedy, anything for that matter. It’s a good question. In fact, my supposition that writing about failing often as a true pre-requesite for ultimate success is a) new or b) interesting to anyone could be yet, you guessed it, another failure. Perhaps not as Epic as TwitFiler, or reaching out to comedians for advice who have “been around the block” to come up more than short-handed or pitching ideas for comedy shows, virtual platforms, writing ideas, scripts, – you name it, to come up, well, with this blog.

I am writing this for a couple of reasons. (I really am over-numerating a lot during this blog, not to mention using big words – for me, at least).

1) The pros all say to take risks, keep trying and that if you’re not failing you’re not trying hard enough or taking enough risks (and this goes for life, by the way, not just comedy).

2) I am putting it “out there” to the universe (which as of today is 6 followers) that I am failing – epically. I am trying things that I am sure some if not all of you are saying “I think he’s crazy” or “he’s delusional” or “I’m not really sure what he’s thinking”. But that’s ok. It really is. It feels way more alive to be trying things and failing, especially when I have nothing to lose, than it does to sit back and just think up ideas and watch the world go by.

I am going to start a running list of my failures with the aforementioned (there – another big word for Marc) as the start. I am never at a loss for ideas and one day, one of them just might stick. One day someone may still say “I don’t know what Marc was thinking…but damn if it didn’t work!”








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