Any time I get to watch a professional comedian perform or I have the pleasure of getting to host or open for them, I always make a sincere effort to learn something from them. It might be how they craft and deliver a joke, or how they act on stage, or how they do crowd work. There’s always something to take away from their performance that might help make me a better comedian.
I got to host two shows for Tom Clark this past Saturday. I particularly enjoyed the way Tom ended his set with the use of music and physical comedy. After following Tom on Twitter, I found a brief essay he’d written called “10 Things I’ve Learned In Comedy.” Number 9 on the list is “Do Things On Your Own Terms,” and Tom and I briefly discussed this between shows when we were chatting. He’d enjoyed some of the stuff I did on stage and gave me some feedback on one of my jokes.
I’ve always enjoyed standing out from the rest. While I say I don’t worry about what others think, there’s always that tiny voice inside your head trying to convince you that you should worry: “Why am I doing this? Am I funny? Is this stupid? Are they laughing?”
I think a lot of comedians don’t like unconventional approaches to comedy. They see it as a cry for attention, or they think those who do it are stealing the spotlight from them. All of that might even be true, but in a way all comedians do that and want that, right? Attempting to stand out from the rest is what makes us shine. Otherwise, we’d just all tell the same jokes and deliver them in the same way.
I enjoy mixing things up, and validation from Tom and his essay let me know it’s okay to do that. Making people laugh is more important, and being different is a good way to achieve that.