About the Genius

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Seattle, WA, United States
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Comedy Predictions for 2011

...also know as, "what I didn't do in 2010 that I will again attempt this year".

Looking back at 2010, I would say it was a good year for me in terms of comedy. But facts are facts! Let's take a look back to this post I wrote around the same time last year and compare notes (these were my comedy resolutions for 2010):

  • Create two 30 minute sets. - I don't think I got to two 30 minute sets, but I do have one 30 minute set that I like a lot more than last year. I don't think I generated the kind of material to reach this goal, and spent most of the year polishing bits and throwing out large chunks of material as stronger stuff emerged. I recently went back through my old comedy journals and am trying to resurface some old material in a new light. This has been going well, but still probably around 15 minutes shy of two sets.
  • Update brianboshes.com. - Done, although after I did it that time I never updated it again. :(
  • Blog more.  - FAIL!
  • Do comedy in LA, NYC, and Phoenix. Get a spot at the Tempe Improv so my family can come see me do comedy in my home town. - I did not get to LA or NYC this year (boo). I blame my "day job" for some, but not all, of this failure. I did go to Costa Rica though but there are no comedy clubs there that would book me. I did comedy in Phoenix and my family did indeed come see me but it was at the Ice House (ice rink bar) in Phoenix and not the Tempe Improv. Oops...
  • Finish a comedy project that isn't standup. Some kind of sketch or script or something. - I worked on this a lot in September but never got to writing a screenplay. I signed up for a screenwriting class that starts in two weeks though.
  • Continue writing at least once a week. Preferably more. - For the most part I did keep this up, so yay me here.
  • Produce a comedy show. - It wasn't the "comedy show" that I was looking for when setting this goal, but I did do a "2010 Year in Review" at Laughs right before the new year where I made some custom content and booked a bunch of the performers, so we'll call this one achieved.
  • Start up a new writing group which encourages people to be better, preferably better in a way that I like so open mics are more enjoyable for me. - I started writing with a friend, Eric Uthus, on a weekly basis and he is showing marked improvements. Not so much in his jokes, but he is less negative when it comes to how he approaches his topics. Open mics have become even more annoying...
  • And as always, get funnier.  - Debatable...
So ya, ok year. Could have gone better; could have gone a lot worse. I think the major happening of this year was my struggle to define what form my "nerd" humor was going to take. There were many gigs where I thought the cerebral stuff that I found funny was going to make it and other nights where I was like "what the fuck am I talking about, these people must think I'm crazy". Unfortunately the latter happened more than the former. There were those nights though where the audience "got it" that kept the illusion that these jokes were working alive longer than they should have. Most of the time, I would have a set do fine, until I reached the portion of jokes that talked about "Harry Potter" and "Back to the Future" where the energy was sucked out of the crowd. A couple times of this and I then mentally started calling this the weak part of my set and began to expect it. So I started trying to prop up this jokes with stronger "normal" jokes around it. Eventually, around October, I dropped almost all the nerdy stuff from my act and just did my old set circa 2009, with much better results.

I was happy, but I was upset. Why can't I talk about the stuff that I care about, the nerdy stuff, and not have it be so weak? The problem, I found after removing the jokes from my act for a while, was that they were really poorly written jokes. They just weren't that good, and on top of that, wasn't something that resonated with many people. I went back and thought, "what is it about these nerdy topics which everyone can get?" Even if they haven't seen "The Lord of the Rings" is there something about the struggle for building an identity, or at least not getting beat up in high school, that ever person could understand and find funny. If you've seen the movie, even better, I'll throw something special in there just for you.

Since approaching the material this way, I've been able to reintegrate a lot of these topics back into my act without the lull that followed them, and I'm happy about it. It's also caused me to define my voice a heck of a lot more, as my opinions about topics are coming through more clearly with this kind of focus. Another thing about presentation style that I learned this year was that my face and voice are very expressive and engaging when I commit to the material. I found on my sets at the end of this year that I was hamming up jokes that I knew would go well. I was watching videos thinking, "I look like a big muppet", I should do that more often. It was entertaining and people responded to it much more than the same joke earlier in the year. Now I just have to figure out how I can commit myself to my material faster (like at the open mic when I'm first trying it out).

So Brian, I thought this post was supposed to be about 2011. You're right my friend, but you have to know where you've been to know where you're going. And stand-up is all about context.

Ok so here is what I think 2011 will bring for me and my fellow Seattlites as far as comedy is concerned:
  • I will have two 30 minute sets. More specifically, I will be able to talk on stage for upwards of an hour but I still won't be ready to headline a show. Most of the second 30 will not be my best material, but I could do it in a pinch. (Look, much more reasonable goal than last year).
  • I will write an amazing and reliable closer. The definition of "amazing" is TBD. 
  • I will complete my alternative comedy project such as a screenplay or series of skits. A series of YouTube video submissions will also qualify as fulfilling this goal. 
  • I will again attempt do comedy in NYC, LA, and Phoenix. 
  • I will create a comedy show "Nerds of Comedy" (working title) that will allow me and my fellow nerd comics in Seattle the ability to talk about stuff in front of an audience that gets it. I will then try to sell this to ComicCon so I can get in for free this year. 
  • I will consolidate this blog and my website under a new WordPress blog (at brianboshes.com) that I update more than once a year. 
  • I will put up another YouTube video for all of my friends that are complaining that I don't have anything on YouTube for them to watch. Alternatively, I will find a way to post videos on my blog that the entire internet doesn't have access to.
  • I will try to be less snarky at open mics. The definition of "snarky" is TBD.
  • I will try to commit to the new jokes with the same energy I give to the proven material.
  • And as always, get funnier.
Ok 2011, let's do this!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Free Wine (for me) Comedy Night

I was asked to "headline" a winery's corporate dinner this last Sunday. I use the bunny ears here because I only did around 30 minutes. That's not a headlining set. Doesn't really matter; I don't think I'm ready to headline officially, yet. You need more than just 45 minutes (which I think I might have, if I stretch), you really need an act. It needs an opening, middle, and end, just like a good story. I don't think I'm a good story, at least not a full length one. At this point, I think I'm a good short story; a short film you'd like, but aren't sure if it has the staying power to be feature length. I'm not trying to be hard on myself, just realistic. I want to be a strong feature, twice over, before attempting headlining. That is why this year's goal was two 30 minute sets. I don't know where I am with this year's resolution, as I've been busy and lazy and haven't taken the time to actually count up all my "good" jokes. Just writing as much as I can (which isn't much lately since I really like sleeping more these days).

So ya, back to the show. We'll fast forward to my set, but before we go there, I should say that I spent the first hour of the show waiting in the winery showroom. I looked at all the bottles, gifts, food, and behind every door labeled "Wine Club Members Only". This was all part of my master plan which was if my material didn't go well, I could just switch into improving about the winery. You can probably guess what comes up next, my material didn't work. I think the audience was a little fed up with hearing about single comics complaining about being single. So onto the improv.

I've been practicing corporate comedy at these non-profit comedy shows at the Comedy Underground the last couple of weeks. I've pushed myself to do as much material I could about the non-profit. Material that was funny but still in good taste. Exercising this comedy muscle paid off I think. I did about 15 minutes of straight (slightly prewritten) improv with the winery employees. It was great. All of the pent up things I always wanted to say to a winery owner finally had a chance to come out, and they loved it. I especially liked equating their wine club to an adult website. Got the light and thought "oh crap, how am I going to wrap this up?". Ended up doing a small joke from my act and then thanked them before leaving the stage (which was a dance floor set up at ground level).

After the show I drank a couple glasses of cab sav, received a bottle of wine for my trouble (I think I get paid for reals on Thursday), and drove (safely) home. Now if only my written material was that funny. We'll see, I'm going to try one of the "improved" jokes tonight at the open mic. Let's see if we can't add it to one of the 30s.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Open Mics vs. The Confidence Factor

At the open mic last night, my confidence mid joke fell to an low point. It was a new joke that I wrote in the car on the way down, after having done some good crowdwork at the Non Profit Comedy Night show at the Comedy Underground. I was feeling great about it, all the way up to the point when I had to tell it. It was if my comedy instincts were rejecting it before it even left my mouth. What was so different about being in the car and then on stage. I really shouldn't give a crap about what the open mic audience thinks. I'm there to work, I have things to say, fuck'em, right? I don't know. Regardless, the joke fell flat, I saved the set by simply explaining to the audience that this just wasn't a good night for me, but that's what they get for a free show. My material may have sucked but my crowdwork was on last night.

Coming off of that set though I was able to take some good notes and I'm looking forward to tell the joke again. I basically re-wrote it from the ground up, coming off the one good part that explains how "I'm sexier than Jesus". Sometimes the joke has to come out of my mouth and bomb the first time, and if I'm lucky, there will be that glimmer of hope, which is what happened last night.

Also, I think it might be time to re-write my JDate joke that was the opener from this one. It felt really stale and hacky, especially compared with the more conversational delivery style I've been using over the last couple of months. Now this thing sticks out like an 80's airplane bit. Took down some notes on that as well, so we'll see how that morphs itself.

All in all, both good things. A comedic phoenix arising from the ashes of other comedians smoking outside the club.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Norther Lights Theater Pub - Salem, Oregon

That is where I performed last weekend. Did a one nighter filling in for a comic friend of mine who had to go out of town. Got the call two weeks ago, so it wasn't super last notice. Gig paid well and included a hotel room, and I haven't been on a road gig for a while (last one was Longview with Duane), so I was looking forward to it.

The gig location, the Northern Lights Theater Pub was an interesting place. I had never heard of this place before and didn't, for some reason, Google the place, so I had no idea what it was before I drove up. It is sort of what the name implies. There is a theater there, but like movie theater not drama. Four screens I think. The comedy was in theater 1. The "pub" part comes from the fact that you can eat and drink in your seats while watching said entertainment. They have a beer/wine bar and waitresses that will come to your table to deliver your food.

I performed with a comic that goes by the name Kermit Apio. That is his real name, and yes he has a joke about it. Regardless, very funny and all around great guy to hang out with. After the show we walked across the parking lot and had Mexican food together and he told stories about what it was like to work with some of the headliners he's had the pleasure to work with recently (Brian Regan). I had nothing nearly that epic to share.

The two gigs went ok. Here is my takeaway from the evening. I think I'm at my best when my act sounds like a story or a conversation with the audience. What this means is I really can't just put up funny observations or impressive thinking that I think, given the right mindset, could be interpreted as funny. My most solid jokes have a story behind them, with some victim (mostly me), and I deliver it in a more conversational style. Tonight at the open mic I tested this theory, and I liked the results. My joke about mating with a tall hot blond woman isn't an observation, it's a fantasy story that gets more and more fantastical each time I tell it.

I also haven't done a breakfast post in a while, so here is a picture of the epic french toast I had the morning after the gig at a place called the "Saucy Onion" in Salem. Apparently this stuff is world famous, and I got the blintz version with marscapone cheese and marionberries. This was in a box with little onion cartoons next to it, so it must have been the extra world famous version. They went light on the cheese, which in the end was a good thing. The round bread is a mystery to me. Overall, solid french toast though. After slathering some syrup on this thing and two and a half cups of coffee, I was good to drive back to Seattle. Next time, I'm either going to get the prosciutto and eggs or just half a french toast with eggs and bacon. This was a little too much bread for me in one sitting, but I'm not really complaining at all. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

While I've been away

Ok ya, I know. I haven't posted in forever. I did exactly what I didn't want, let this blog become stale. I've let you down. There is no trust in this relationship anymore. How can I win you back? Blog more? Really? I assume at this point I'm just shouting out into a void and making myself look good for bookers. (PS. if you're a booker, I hope this looks good).

So what have I been doing all this time, not blogging? Well if you're a fan of me on Facebook you probably already know and this blog has become too slow for you to receive updates about my life. You're in the Twittbook TxtMsg speed of life man, and I understand. But for those not in the know, here is an update:

- Went to the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland Oregon. There was supposed to be a whole blog about this, but then a comic asked me for a ride back to Seattle at 7am the morning after the closing gala and I just didn't have the energy. That, and every other comic there was blogging or podcasting or flikering about it so just Google search from Bridgetown Comedy Festival and you should get the gist. In summary though, I never felt more like a suburban comic, learned alot about what I want to be able to do on stage, and enjoyed the hell out of what I'm calling "Hipster Comic Summer Camp".

- Featured for Greg Hahn and opened for Jaime Kennedy at Laughs. Good stage time at both. Jaime sadly had just broken up with JLH and so she did not accompany him to the gig, which was my original motivation for taking the hosting gig.

- Got invited to audition for the Vancouver comedy festival in August. I got really close to getting in a couple years ago so I'm hoping this is the year I get extended an official invite. That would be some amazing to head up there this fall and would give me a new goal to shoot for in my comedy career. Fingers crossed and punch lines sharpened for that audition.

- Wrote some new nerdy jokes. Have yet to do my mid year joke inventory at the end of the month to see how much I need to work to get to my two 30-min set goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

- Was featured in a photo art project for my friend Michelle that she did on open mic comics. It ran in Seattle for a month. The pictures from the photo shoot now adorn the newly redesigned brianboshes.com. This blog is now properly embedded in that site now as well, so now more jumping between the two. My nerd powers shined brightly there.

Well those are the big ones. Peppered in there are too many interesting and fun open mics, one nighters, and general WTF moments that make comedy in Seattle very weird and exciting and something that, no matter how much I want the time back, I don't see myself dropping any time in the near future.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March Madness 8 - Giggles Laugh Off Week 4, Night 1

First I'd like to welcome a new blog reader, Terry Taylor, to the audience. Welcome.

On to the show...

I haven't been doing that much comedy lately, relatively speaking. Did get up once at the Laughs open mic this week. Yes, I know, I missed a blog post about it. It wasn't worth it. The set had one joke and the rest of it is what I would have picked on people for from the back of the room for doing.

But, last night was the first night in my competition week in the 2010 Giggles Laugh Off. This is week four of the competition, which means that three other comedians have already moved on to the finals. I've got four shows this weekend, two last night and two tonight. Audience members vote on their top three favorite comedians, and the scores are totaled across all of the shows. The top comedian moves onto the finals in April. So far I'm in a very close second to comedian Scott Black. Friday's shows were fairly lightly attended though, so tonight's first show will probably be the pivotal moment in this week's competition. Here's the what happened last night...

One of the Giggle's regular hosts, Eric, hosted the first show. Scott Black went first. He has apparently won the competition once before I think a decade ago. He has a high energy set and props to him for giving it 100% for the 20 people in the audience that first show. I went up fourth. I'll tell you this. These sets were way better than my performance in the Seattle Comedy Competition just a couple months ago. Not that I didn't give it my all there, but I'm happy to see how much I've positively developed since that time. I decided to go with my exclusively "nerdy" set. I wanted something that would separate me from the rest of the comics. The first set went ok. Not amazing, not terrible, but pretty good for not being able to practice it as much as my Seattle set. Got good solid laughs through the first half, but kind of petered out at the end and my closer wasn't as strong as I would have liked. It gave me a tied for third place finish with Sean McCarthy coming out of the first show.

The second show I went fifth of seven. This time I went right after Sean. He had a solid set and I really love his closer about low paid cashiers "drinking all the Robotusen in the store." I went up there and laid down my first joke. Solid. Second joke. Pretty good. By the third joke I had them in a rhythm that I don't get on every show and always love the feeling when I do. Had a group of three girls almost in tears when I started talking about Twilight and Harry Potter tricking girls into thinking that wizards and vampires were sexy. Obviously I was hitting their demographic or something. I judge the 10 minute set a bit better this time and was able to close up more professional. Again, almost all the set was "nerdy" stuff. One thing I was a bit critical of was that I fumbled a lot of words, way more than I usually do in a set. Internally, I definitely felt a little "off", even though it was going really well. Almost flubbed a couple punch lines and stepped on a couple of laughs. Overall, nothing that hurt anything, just pointing it out. That set was enough to pull out the first place finish in the second set of shows and cumulatively puts me four points behind Scott Black going into tonight.

Hoping that tonight's early show does me well, as that is probably going to be the deciding show of the competition based on the size of the crowd. I'll let you know how it goes. For now, back to watching "Blade Runner".