I’m Getting Better At…
Since I’ve started doing stand up there’s a particular talent I’ve admired in more experienced comedians, and that’s the ability to “label” people.
It’s something you see Russell Peters do all the time in his stand up, and in his case it’s often as simple as calling someone by their race: the white guy, brown guy, asian guy; the guy with three wives. People love it and find it hilarious.
It’s not something I felt I was strong at starting out, but always thought it was an amazing skill to be able to pick out the essence of someone, at least superficially, and put it out there for everyone to see.
I realized while I was hosting a show in Etobicoke recently that I’m starting to get that ability.
There were some older men at the show that night who were the main audience, and I had already engaged them, which was easy to do considering one of these men in their fifties was wearing an orange “Porn Star” t-shirt. These guys were pretty willing to listen at the start of the show, but at some point started to lose interest and mainly talk amongst themselves, (for which they apologized later).
Midway through the evening they were joined by another gentleman. I knew if I didn’t engage him he would ignore the show altogether.
I thought to myself: ‘what does this guy look like?’ Fortunately, he was a tall guy, slicked back hair, with maybe 50 extra pounds on him, and was wearing a loose collared shirt that wouldn’t be out of place in a bowling alley — he was Tony Soprano. Or possibly one of the other Soprano characters, but Tony was good enough.
I thought it was a pretty good label. It didn’t get a huge laugh, and I think one of his friends actually thought he ought to be recognized as an Italian mobster, but it was enough to engage the guy.
And I’ve realized that the ability has been coming for awhile, like when I tagged a heckler at Laugh Temptation with an unflattering, but well-deserved label, that did get a huge laugh.
And for me, I think that ability is starting to stem from the fact that I regularly engage the audience at the start of each set and building that comfort level.
I’m still not a pro at it, but the skill is building, so hooray!
Posted on May 11, 2012, in How to Start in Stand Up Comedy, My Comedy Career and tagged chris maclean, comedic skills, how do comedians label people, how to engage an audience, mclean, WitFull. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.