Creativity vs Dependability

Sometimes life’s confusing.

The world wants you to be as reliable as an assembly line worker, but with the flair of an artist.

Best I can offer today – Ernest Hemingway*:

“Write drunk, edit sober.”

*(Shhh. Let’s just enjoy the quote before we start worrying that Hemingway never actually said this.

There seems to be a debate about where the exact line came from. I’m not seeing a solid conclusion.

Maybe the moral is: “Write drunk, edit drunk, do your tags sober.”)

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The Fourth Wall Is There For Your Safety And Mine

Between an audience and a performer there is the invisible fourth wall.

A difference between most performance and stand-up is that comedians “don’t have” the fourth wall. Or so it needs to seem.

Just my take, but I wouldn’t worry too much about “breaking” the wall.

There are all kinds of way successful comics out there, from the ultra who-are-you-what-do-you-do? types to the the tightly scripted one-liner merchants and there’s a place for them all.

People come to know you through what you’ve created. That’s intimate enough.

I reckon even the comedians that get audience members up on stage to dance/answer questions/pick a card haven’t broken the wall. It’s still a show, there’s still a wall, and those punters just became props.

I say pick your own relationship with the wall. For me it’s more of a serving hatch.

The diners can come into the kitchen if they like, but the stuff that’s relevant to them is coming through the hatch.

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Comic Relief

I’ve had mixed feelings about Comic Relief since the arms trade scandal in 2013, and it makes me wonder where that story went. It’s all a bit Orwellian.

In Animal Farm, the animals start a revolution, emancipating themselves from human domination, but by the end become just like humans.

The Comic Relief scandal was like that, but instead of animals, piles of cash.

Here’s the plot:

Evil piles of cash create inequality and suffering in the world.

Good pile of cash is assembled to fight injustices created by evil piles of cash.

Good pile of cash ends up being just like evil piles of cash.

I think the moral of the story is that we need to keep assembling giant piles of cash, and then maybe one day, one of them will end up being nice.

Or maybe the moral of the story is if you enfranchise enough potential critics, memories fade.

Makes me think of the Milan Kundera line:

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

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The Other Way To Get A Laugh

Yesterday, I mentioned my old improv teacher told us there were only two ways to get a laugh. The first one was covered yesterday.

The second way to get a laugh (I was told) is reincorporation.

That could be as simple as a comedian harking back to a thing she introduced earlier in her routine. The second time she brings it up, the context has changed and this change makes us see the original thing in a new light, inducing laughter.

It doesn’t have to be a thing brought up in the routine. It could be a thing already in the consciousness of the audience.

If I parody a famous singer, as well as dropping the status of the famous person (satisfying, as mentioned yesterday) it’s also a type of reincorporation. You’ve heard it before, now I’m using it in a different way.

I’d say observational comedy falls into the reincorporation category. The comedian is making you see a thing that you’ve seen a million times before, but making you realise you hadn’t truly seen it until you saw it the way the comedian saw it.

I guess some musical comedy is a type of observational comedy. “Have you noticed (x) sounds like (y)?”

Maybe if you’re having trouble with a joke, it could be that you’re not lowering the status of someone or something (your target might not be one your audience can build hostility towards), or you’re not reincorporating, because you’re making an observation about a thing that’s not in your audience’s consciousness at the moment that it needs to be.

If you’ve been doing stand-up, this might be stuff you’ve already worked out, but hopefully I’m saying it in a way you may not have heard before.

Reincorporation without the laughs!

PS If anyone has anything to add to this, I would love to hear from you.

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