A confident hour

Welp, now that I have a website, I should probably do something with it.

I’m going to do my best to make at least one post here a week, not only in the hopes that it will keep you checking in, but to force myself to write something other than comedy, tweets and sociopolitical essays. To write normal person diary entry type stuff to keep you updated and me, I dunno, motivated?

Now that the Midwest weather’s nice again (something I didn’t have to contend with too much in Florida), I’ll be doing a little traveling and booking more shows in more places. (If you want me to come to your town, email lowercasedanger@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can do.)

I’m on a couple showcases in Chicago this week before heading to Florida April 12th to visit family, host Record Store Day at Park Ave CDs (for the fourth year in a row) and do a couple shows.

My goal with those FL shows is to do jokes (at least 80% of the sets) I’ve never done in FL before.

It will be pretty much exactly a year since I was in FL last and, for both friends and myself, I’d rather not repeat anything I did that last time. New stuff, fresh stuff, so neither of us gets bored or sees the punchline coming.

That’s the goal, and it’s part of a larger goal.

I haven’t talked about it much because I don’t want to jinx it or put some sort of arbitrary deadline on it, but I’ve started making myself more organized (again), beating myself up more, in an effort to build my first, confident hour.

I hit my seven year stand-up anniversary February 13th, 2017. In that time, I’ve written a lot. Even starting out, I tried to make a point to not repeat open mic sets twice consecutively at the same mic. Like, if I did Austin Coffee’s Sunday mic, I would make myself do a totally different set the following Sunday.

Also back then, thanks to living with a bit of OCD, I was obsessive with organizing material, logging every single time I was onstage in a spreadsheet with notes like “Type of Show (mic, showcase, etc.),” “Role (host, guest spot, feature, etc.),” “Set list,” “Notes.”

I’d wait a couple days after each set before I listened to the recording on my phone because I didn’t want the adrenaline from the show to cloud my judgement of the performance. I tried to listen to every set as objectively as possible, as though I was hearing it for the first time, from the audience.

I did this for practically every show and mic for, I think, like three years. Then I got lazy and stopped. For a while, I stopped recording my sets altogether. I don’t think I got complacent — ’cause I know I continued to write and grow, consciously trying new things to try to “find my voice” onstage, which I’d heard could take 7-10 years. I didn’t want to wait that long. I thought I could speed it up if I was conscious of it and unafraid to try new things (for a period, I wouldn’t take the mic out of the stand at all, dragging the stand around with me if I wanted to move around. Shit like that) — I think I just got lazy about the offstage craft of it.

It occurred to me after the move to Chicago that I’d gotten so lazy with tracking and logging my jokes and sets, I might have an hour of material and not even know. But rather than motivate to try to go back and dig and find out, I fell into a new kind of laziness in Chicago, making the rounds at open mics irregularly and only randomly taking notes, not obsessively logging everything like I had before, to where I could tell you, “I have 74 jokes, 14 are about politics, 10 are about religion” or whatever. I used to be that good about keeping up with what I had, how ready it was, etc.

I wanted to get back to that obsessive point where I cared about keeping track, even though that’s not nearly as fun as doing stand-up. Good set, bad set, any set’s more interesting than sitting by yourself, poring over your material, concerned with being objective as possible, taking notes, logging sets into a spreadsheet like the weirdest data entry clerk.

Actually, if I’m being honest, it was more like I told myself, “Find your way back to that point or stop doing comedy. You clearly don’t take it seriously. Stop devoting so much time to it with nothing tangible to show for it.”

In the summer of 2017, I found the motivation again. I started a new spreadsheet (that I’m okay about keeping up to date) and became better about listening to recordings over and over to tweak material, build on old jokes, etc.

Hell, walking home from work one day, I came up with a tag for a bit I’d been carrying around for like three years.

All of that started feeling pretty good, so the next logical step became Build An Hour.

So that’s where I’m at. All of the shows I’ve been on since July 2017, where I’ve gotten 10+ minutes, have all been steps towards building an hour. A confident hour. I’m almost 100% sure I have an hour. Somewhere. Floating around as dozens of jokes I’ve tried in a variety of arrangements for the past seven years. But I’ve never done an hour. I’ve never looked at a set and been able to say, “This = a solid hour.”

But the cool thing is, I think I have an hour — somewhere — even without the new stuff I’m bringing to FL next week. Testing that on a couple of crowds there will be a step towards integrating it into the possibly-already-existing hour. (I may end up with more than an hour. And, either way, I’m excited to find out.)

And then the goal is simply get on as many shows or showcases this summer and fall where I can run even just 6+ minutes at a time, to work on the timing of jokes where I think I’ve got the words down, and work on the words of the newer stuff.

Holy moly, this entry is much longer than I thought it’d be.

Thanks for reading any of this. Extra thanks if you made it all the way to the end.

See ya soon.