RE: Steamroller piece for Saturday's 42 x 42 at Two Hour Comedy Hour

Andy Fleming                                                                                            Nov 6 (2 days ago)
to me (steamrollerchicago@gmail.com)

Hey Matt! As I'm sure you know, we're bringing the 42x42 show back to the Two Hour Comedy Hour this Saturday. This is the show where we've booked 42 of the city's top comics to do 42-second sets, and split it up with featured sets from four headliners.

Because I am, as you well know, a pillar of the scene, whenever this many comics are in one room, I am constantly getting asked for comedy advice. So I got together with a couple of this Saturday's headliners, Kristen Toomey and Ian Abramson (give them credit for this article too, but, like, a smaller credit than me), and we composed this list of 42 pieces of advice for young comics.

Enjoy! You're welcome!

1.) Mic work is important. Be sure the mic is right up on your chin. If you're yelling a punchline, drop the mic down a little, to maybe chest level.

2.) If you have to fart, do it during a big laugh. If you're not a getting a big enough laugh to cover a fart noise, you don't deserve to fart onstage. I think Steve Allen said that.

3.) Be loose up there. Preparing is for improvisers.

4.) Take any stage time you can get. And not just stand-up stage time! Do karaoke. Do summer stock. Ladies, dance at amateur nights at strip clubs. STAGE TIME IS STAGE TIME.

5.) Props. Props props props props props. It is impossible to over-emphasize how important it is to have props. No comic has ever made it big in this city without the use of props.

6.) Don't forget to use the props that the comedy club leaves on the stage for you! That stool can be a hilariously oversized cell phone from the '90s! That microphone? That's a black guy's dick! That mic stand? That can be a skinny bitch you're grinding on at the club! If you're not using these things you are WASTING OPPORTUNITIES.

7.) Start a showcase. Right away. Sure, you've been doing comedy two weeks; yes, you don't know anything about hosting; correct, you're too meek to ask good comics to do your show so you have other open mikers headlining. THAT DOESN'T MATTER. You've found a bar that's willing to turn off the TVs for an hour-- what's that? They're not willing to turn off the TVs? Fair enough. See #4.

8.) You're going to need to learn how to "leave this conversation" on Facebook.

9.) Ask Marc Maron to do your show or podcast! He loves it!

10.) Give the audience what they want. If you're fat, talk about buffets. If you're black, the audience wants to hear you talking about some BIG OL' booty! If you're a girl, talk about blowjobs and periods (both in one joke = LOLOL).

11.) If an audience doesn't follow your jokes, it's ALWAYS their fault. Rebuke them for not following you, and let them know that they are "slow". This will get them on your side and force them to perk up out of hopes that they don't disappoint you (their hero) again.

12.) Stop wasting time with setups! Punch lines are all you need. Ian Abramson tells us: "The first time I killed I just kept yelling, 'To get to the other side!' Never even mentioned the chicken."

13.) After the show, position yourself by the exit so the audience can tell you how great you are!

14.) Business cards! You shouldn't even go to your first open mic if you don't have business cards printed.

15.) Wear t-shirts with lots of words or confusing images on them onstage. This way, the audience has something to entertain themselves with if they get bored.

16.) Baseball caps are a win-win! Frontwards, they cast your whole face in shadow, thus keeping the audience from ever knowing the real you. Backwards, they let the audience know you're a cool dude who'll do Malort shots with them after the show!

17.) Impressions of cartoon characters are seminal to every great comic's act. The best part about this is that the jokes are pre-written! You're WASTING TIME writing your own jokes when you can do an impression of Peter Griffin doing a joke Alec Sulkin wrote.

18.) Experiment with all the other comedic arts: improv, sketch, ventriloquism, fart whistling, etc.

19.) A lot of people say you should "eat, drink, and sleep comedy". What does this really mean? It's simple: eat funny things like novelty erotic cakes. Drink a LOT because drunks = funny (Dean Martin LOL). And fart in your sleep.

20.) Start a podcast! You don't need a theme. Just two dudes talking. Plus a girl talking-- but not as much.

21.) FARTS = FUNNY. What aren't you getting about this??

22.) Tweet! Post any joke you think of, as soon as you think of it! Is it original? Is it funny? It doesn't matter! If you don't have a full Twitter feed, what will you read onstage at open mics?

23.) Fight your instincts! That is, your instincts not to sleep with other comics.

24.) No more impressions of trail mix! We get it! You're mostly M&Ms!

25.) Comment on local comedy blog articles! Tell everyone what you really think! Get your voice out there! Anonymously, of course. 

26.) The light is just a suggestion. Wrap up when it's comfortable for you.

27.) Not sure how much time you have left? Just ask from the stage! It's comfortable for everyone.

28.) Just have fun up there!

29.) Pick one person in the scene that you've decided you're better than. Get angry when they get opportunities you haven't gotten yet. USE that anger. Not to get onstage or write jokes, but to write articles for local comedy blogs.

30.) Bombing? Remove clothing for laughs!

31.) You really should be as drunk as possible when doing stand-up. There's a reason all the best mics have a 3-hour wait time between signup and when you go onstage. It's to allow you time to get as drunk as possible so you can be as FUNNY as possible.

32.) There's one black guy in the room. Call him out.

33.) Don't ask bar patrons to quiet down during your show. They're buying drinks.

34.) Do your research. There's nothing worse than a comic who is two months in and hasn't read the Greek tragedies.

35.) Know the greats! If you're taking the stage before even having watched Anjelah Johnson's special, don't even talk to me.

36.) In fact, don't talk to me in general. I'm a pillar of this scene and I shouldn't be addressed unless I've addressed you first.

37.) Remember that the show is all about YOU. Your five-minute guest spot at the top of the show is what everyone wants to talk about after the show. 

38.) Using the n-word is a great way to let audiences know you're edgy. Just make sure you're polite about it. Say "please" afterwards.

39.) Lose weight. Or gain a BUNCH of weight.

40.) Request bookings. Not just via email or Facebook messages, but in person, after their show, as late in the night as possible. Sure, the producer you're trying to corner is drunk. THAT MEANS THEY'LL REMEMBER YOU THE NEXT TIME THEY'RE DRUNK. It's called sense-memory. Look it up on the Wikipedia article I just wrote.

41.) You don't need to do anything else other than comedy. So what, you're not living an outside life? That new ten minutes you have about your cats is HOT!

42.) Don't give advice. EVER.

-Andy Fleming (and Kristen Toomey and Ian Abramson)