teaches. Both by nature and he literally substitute teaches in the Clayton and Rockwood school districts.
In addition, he's been trying to school newbie comics as of late on how not to humiliate themselves. (And yes, he's also trying to make fat coin by selling a book, "Don't Wear Shorts on Stage.")
Durham has definitely earned the right to offer advice: A ten-year veteran of the industry, he spent two years as a club doorman, put in lots of road time, and has emceed and featured for big headliners such as Bob Saget
and Maria Bamford
He's opening for Dan Cummins
at the Funnybone tonight through Saturday
, and for Jimmy Pardo
at Soulard Preservation Hall on March 16
: So. Whence this book?
: A high school student I had taught two years ago
emailed me for advice on his first open mic. I wrote back a pretty
large email that ended with, "Sorry I wrote such a book."
started writing (but never even come close to finishing) several books
before. But this one kept going, because I knew there was a need for
Every week at open mic night at the Funnybone there are
40-50 guys who sign up and a lot of them hurt their chances because they
don't know what to do. Being a teacher, I was just frustrated. I
wanted to get it through to them: There's so much more than just telling
jokes for a few minutes. It's funny, I've seen lots of new
guys make all the mistakes you point out (like belittling the crowd for
not laughing, etc.). Some of your advice, though concerns how to relate
to fellow comics, which can be crucial for those who want to do
this for a living. I noticed this passage:
stress enough how important it is to be respected by your peers. Extreme
outcasts are not tolerated or helped by anyone in the business. You're
not Andy Kaufman, so don't try to make it that way. My question is: Are you being too conservative? What if we DO have the next Andy Kaufman? Do you fear you're discouraging creativity?
Anyone in Andy Kauffman's league of creativity probably won't resort to my book (or any) for instruction.
think experimenting is a good idea, down the road. But to be able to
get stage time, a comic can't be doing things that are so over the top
that the club is afraid to put him or her on stage.
years, we've had quite a few odd comics perform in some strange ways.
The problem is, they get some of the crowd to laugh at them but most of
the crowd just gets confused. When they repeat the bit the following
week any "magic" that they thought they had is gone.
lot of what I write has exceptions to the rules, I don't see this as one
of them. My experience has been that these oddball acts are usually
done by oddball people who are impossible to have a real conversation
with because they're so out there. No one is going to insist they be on
stage, they need to be able to communicate well with others.A lot of these lessons in the book, you learned the hard way. Which was the most painful?