As lazy as I am, I find I am a bit of a glutton for punishment. (Probably why my lovely wife is always angry at me)
I find I wear a lot of hats in both my personal, professional and comedy life.
In my personal life, I am a Husband and a Father. But I am also a brother, cousin, friend and son.
At work I have a job title, and description but also help organise a few wee things around the office.
But with all of these things, it’s important I don’t neglect writing new material, or coming up with new ideas. But that can be hard with all else that goes on. And I don’t mean to gloat or want to blow smoke up my own ass, but over the years I have built up a nice wee bank of material. Much of which I forget and remember from time to time. And that is nice, as I could comfortably rest on that bank of material to perform for some time. But that would be boring and old.
One of my comedy goals in the last few years is to always have something new for each show, something fresh to try out. That might be a whole new joke, or it could be an older joke I have re-written, edited or added too to make it longer and better and almost new again. Even if it’s one joke a fortnight, I don’t stop looking for something new.
And I think that is important, for a few reasons. Personally for me it gives me satisfaction in my art. I love being creative, and comedy is my creative outlet. I don’t have a musical bone in my body, and I can’t draw very well. I have tried writing stories, but tend to get bored half way through. But I can sit and write comedy for ever. I am good at two things, writing jokes, and talking.
Professionally it’s important as you don’t want to lose a repeat audience by doing the same stuff for ever. I live in a fairly small town here in Palmerston North. We have a small comedy audience that likes to come to a few shows a month, and if we want to keep them coming, we got to feed them new material. New jokes. And if they are not new, they need to be better, different, edited, so they are better than the last time they heard it.
The above two paragraphs also go for the Radio show and workshops. Its great to come up with new idea’s while still keeping the familiarity of the voice of the show, or new idea’s to help other comedians in workshops.
But to do this, I got to make time to write. Time to edit and time to perform. Which is not easy with all the hats mentioned above. And you do it through sacrifice and balance. For example I love PlayStation, and though I recently brought a new game and find myself playing it a bit, it’s not a daily thing. But it used to be. I gave it up a fair bit for comedy. It’s also done by using time that would otherwise be wasted. I find at work I get a 5 minute window here and there while something is loading, or when I finish a task before a meeting and have a few minutes, I will whip out my phone and scroll through notes I have made, add a bit here and there. When I am driving I tend to go through a joke in my head, and think ‘how can I add to this, does that work, do I need that bit there, can I cut it back so I can add more in?’ etc.
I also set aside time every week for writing. Sometimes it scales back to 15 minutes, sometimes it’s longer, but it’s always there. And I take notes on ANYTHING that could be a joke. Anything. Even if it turns into nothing, I keep the note, it may turn into something else later.
Balance comes from making sure I spend a decent amount on time for comedy, but also a decent amount of time in my personal and professional life focusing on those things. I will often turn down a show if I have spent a large chunk of time on comedy that week to spend time with my wife and kids. After all personal life is where a lot of my material comes from.
But by doing this, I am achieving the goals I set myself of always having new material, keeping it fresh for the crowds and developing myself to do more shows.
I also find, the more I write, the better I get. If I don’t write for a while, the newer jokes I do have are not as good. By keeping up the habit, it opens the brain up a bit more and I get better idea’s to work with. It makes me a better writer and in turn a better comedian. I find each joke is better than the last, so as I go, I become a better comedian.
So don’t stop writing, be a better comedian.