Saturday, April 14, 2012

Young Comics Showcase

“One night I was walking up the hill. On that hill stood a haunted house. There was a light in the house. So I went in. The chairs had blankets of dust on them. The stairs screeched. I knew I was being watched. Suddenly bats came flying all over me. Then they disappeared. I looked behind me and saw a skeleton. On my right was a ghost. Then – “Eee-e-e-e-e!” ************ And I never came back again!”

So, what in the hell is that, you may be asking yourself. That, friends, is a piece I wrote in 3rd grade when I was 8 years old. I have a thin book covered in faded purple construction paper full of the stories and poems that spilled out of my ugly yellow number 2 pencils. Though you can’t always tell from these reviews, I am a much better writer today. I am working on two books, hope to find an outlet for my essays and still return regularly to indulge my passion for poetry.

I share this to remind you that everyone you admire for anything was once a beginner. I was fortunate to have a great teacher that convinced me I had a way with words, that told me writing could be a part of my future. She gave me special assignments that encouraged me to learn structure, grammar, and technique. She recommended books that were always a level or two ahead, and challenged me to reach. And she taught me a very simple, but powerful, word: tyro. I loved the sound, and the meaning she shared was simple enough. Tyro – a beginner in learning anything.

Tonight, I watched two showcases full of tyros. Like brightly-colored plastic markers making their way across the Chutes and Ladders board, they are each at a different point in the game. A few stepped on stage for the first time ever, in a room filled with supportive friends and compassionate fans. Several had performed a few times, maybe done an open mic or two, but not much more. At least two had more exposure, but seemed to be trying out some new material.

No one failed.

I say this because no one backed out; no one changed their mind about taking the stage and sharing their musings with an audience. For me, that’s winning.

Stand up is one of those careers where you can only get on-the-job training. Athletes have farm camps. Doctors do residencies. Hair dressers practice on plastic heads and wigs. How many of us had to learn our trade by stepping into its actual environment, alone, and being expected to accomplish the exact same thing as the twenty-year vet?

These brave and funny souls are the future of our local comedy scene. We can crush them now, while they’re still new and fresh and hopeful, but to what end? Feeding on your young is never a plan for sustainability. So consider the following list my contribution in introducing the tyros: a rookie card with a quick reference to a strong punch line or novel idea that jumped out at me in particular tonight. Comics, though I won’t write it here, you may safely assume I mean the whole joke.

Showcase 1:

Corey Loomis: Holiday drug chart. This resonated with me because ‘shrooming on Halloween was the norm at my school. It might even have been in the freshman handbook.

Greg Owens: they don’t kill non-Catholics – unless they’re in Northern Ireland.

Paul Shipper: usually gruntled, sheveled. As a writer, wordplay is my foreplay. Great bit.

Mason Dean: It WAS a marvelous night for a lap dance. Music parody done well.

Kate Anderson: He can take a joke. He can’t take a punch.

Jason Pomietlasz: Happy Hour lasts two weeks, then….

Paul Truax: … or at least a woman who would dress like one.

Grant Fletcher: No sex before Monopoly, and the tramp stamp line

Mike Gifaldi: the Def Leppard football bit.

Showcase 2:

Corey Smithson: react differently to what you run over.

Maryanne Donnelly: I took away lettuce.

Mark Rabin: Her saying that I could rape her daughter….

Adam Taupin: … it’s a change of pace for me….

Todd Youngman: My area down there is ripped!

Nate Clark: You won’t do it, but it’s good to write it down.

Brett Von Soosten: So, I’m in Florida….

Austin Lafond: Dude, that’s too bad. I really like you.

Evan Kelly: Talking to women is a lot like listening. (This should be a bumper sticker.)

Tony Rizzo: Trying to become an organ donor, but she….

Jessie Volpe: Ok, guys, do you want jobs or …?

Dan Grabowski: Sports commentator on roommate’s encounter

If you love stand up, drop in to showcases and open mic nights. Support the tyros. Comedy, as a career, is harsh, extremely competitive and often demands sacrifice. Those of us who benefit from the end product, who lounge in laughter, need to be more grateful, helpful and kind. Life will find a way to slap you down, kids. This is my way of slapping you up.

Good job out there tonight. Thanks for the laughs.

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