Stand-up seemed a great way to spend an evening but it wasn’t quite as easy as Roisin Burke thought it was going to be
I was at Al Porter at Live at the Marquee when I suddenly became inspired to try stand-up comedy.
It seemed like a fine way to spend an evening when I was in a tent with 4,000 other people laughing hysterically at witty quip, followed by jovial jibe, but the reality of doing a comedy gig is a lot different.
It takes a great deal of effort to be effortlessly amusing.
In fact, I would go as far as to say it is mildly terrifying to attempt to prepare material designed to make people laugh and then learn off that material in order to be able to deliver it in a casual, conversational manner.
Something that caught me was actually finding material. Turning everyday occurrences into hilarious antics is not as easy as Tommy Tiernan makes it seem.
It is only when you need to be funny that you realise most of your life is made up of mundane encounters that are really not worth mentioning.
The second thing I noticed when writing material was that everyone has a different concept of what is funny.
Testing material on friends that I thought was hilarious, got reviews of “mildly hilarious” to straight out not usable, which made me wonder about my own sense of humour.
Eventually, after many days of long heated debates around what was and was not funny, I had a set.
Knowing what’s funny
My material focused on personal elements of my own life such as my family and friends, the guy I was dating and my outlooks on life and it had all been cleared by friends who confirmed it was, in fact, amusing and should definitely get a chuckle or two.
A few days before the show, I was put in touch with a Cork comedian who knows the local circuit well and he offered me advice how to make the most of my gig.
One of his biggest tips was using the silence, which he told me is difficult to do at the start, because you are terrified of it.
This I understood.
The day before the gig, I was ready to go. I had my material and I was spending all my time, muttering quips and jokes under my breath in an attempt to learn them off to such an extent as they would flow naturally and without concentration.
Last minute tweaks
Then I hit a road bump, my friend Adrian featured heavily in my set. He knew he was mentioned, but he didn’t know what was being said, so I sat him down and read him the script.
He wasn’t impressed.
After some negotiation and some tweaking, we reached a common ground, but the best joke in the script had been watered down to nothing.
This got me thinking about other comedians and how they get away with using personal experiences to make people laugh. Is there a knack to being allowed tell embarrassing or incredibly revealing facts about your friends and family?
Later that day, I was at home when I get a call from Adrian who said he had thought about it and the joke can be told in full, in its original format and I am delighted. My best joke of the night and it was back in action!
On the night Performing my material was a nerve-wracking experience. I had a drink or two to calm the nerves before I took to the stage, not only to tell jokes to a room of strangers but also to have the event recorded for a national newspaper.
The Cork comedian who had been giving me tips said to close on your best material, but open with your second best.
My first joke fell flat. It was about how being a journalist is a bit like working in customer service because you just listen to angry people give out about their problems and no one got it.
My next joke went down a storm and the third joke also did well.
I was nervous, but enjoying myself and as I moved into the final joke of my eight-minute set, I had developed a confidence in my delivery that had not been there at the start.
Looking back at the footage, I noticed things that I hadn’t noticed on the night, for example, during my performance, I was constantly moving my hands like I was rapping lyrics to Jay Z.
And I also noticed that I was more nervous than I remember being.
If I was to do it again, (yes, that is right, I would consider it), I would try to be edgier with my material, (playing it safe just ain’t funny) and I would have another drink (for the nerves).
It was a great experience and a real challenge.
I think it’s safe to say I may never make the Apollo, but watch this space for my debut at Cork’s City Limits. My funny bone is itching for another outing.
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