In an earlier post I wrote about my “racist baby” bit, which came from the real experience of my kid being scared of black people when he was really little. I’ve always liked the premise because the idea of this tiny, innocent baby being innately racist was funny to me, but in practice it’s a mediocre bit – the payoff isn’t strong enough to justify the fairly lengthy setup.
That changed yesterday, when I went back to Sam Rhodes Comedy Explosion. I’d been thinking about the bit all day, trying to find ways to build it up into something stronger. While I was running through it in my head I came up with a new line which makes the setup funnier, and defuses the tension which inevitably builds when you talk about racism.
I was on at the end of the night, around 10:30, so a few people had left but there was still a respectable audience for a Monday night non-bringer gig, but the energy in the room was definitely flagging. Most of my bankers worked pretty well, while some of my more mediocre stuff fell flat, but I didn’t take that to heart under the circumstances.
I closed with the racist baby bit, and right from the start it seemed to go better than it has before, even with a flagging audience – I think partly because I tried to deliver it with more commitment, like I talked about in my last post. I dropped in my new line and it got the biggest laugh of my set, and that meant the punchline, which followed shortly after, did pretty well too because the audience was primed for it. I think the punchline could still be improved, so I’ll keep working on it, but that new line in the middle helps the whole thing work a lot better.
In this lecture on creativity, John Cleese talks about the importance of playing with ideas and I’ve learned that myself – ideas need time to evolve into something better. It’s tempting to ditch bits that aren’t working well, but if you like them enough to keep trying them out and thinking about them, the answers will come eventually.
I wrote just four short words on the back of my hand to help remember the middle bit of my set, but I barely had to glance at them so I should probably just stop being such a little bitch and stop using them altogether.
I’ve got a bunch of gigs lined up for October already and I think I can get away with doing a bit more than one a week, which makes me happy. I feel like I’m making progress with my material and delivery, so I’m itching to get more stage time.
Next week I’ll be at Angel Comedy RAW on Wednesday night, where I’ve been trying to get a spot for ages, so I’m looking forward to that.