FINAL? [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 30]

Even though it's the 30th day, this BLOGRIMAGE is not over.

I want to perform some of my new material.

WHAT I LEARNED SO FAR:

1. Stand up Comedy is Hard
2. The hardest part is writing
3. The second hardest is getting gigs at legit places
4. Observation is the key to writing
5. Real life funny does not always translate to stage funny
6. Too many people depend on crude humor for easy laughs
7. Writing gets easier the more it is done
8. Bounce ideas off of real people
9. Material being funny to you is more important than it being funny to others
10. Be disciplined

BLOGRIMAGE FINAL EVE [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 29]





































Yesterday at family time, I once again realized how humor is natural over the dinner table. Every once in awhile, my family asked me if I was practicing new stand up material. Upon hearing that question, I immediately wished I had my Moleskin and pen.

The comics life is always observant.

If anything, this BLOGRIMAGE is helping me to observe the world with witty eyes. Another thing I'm learning is how to rewrite stories so that they are funny. My ten minute stories often go down to 1 minute after revisions, which is kind of sad but the nature of stand up comedy.

Here are some more photos I edited!











BUMMER [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 28]

This is the second week in a row I did not make the stand up comedy list. The frustrating thing is that there is no system or communication in place to inform me on what the problem is. Did I not perform well enough? Is their a process to earn a second spot? Did I do something wrong? These are the kind of questions I am asking. The manager, from what people have told me, is not friendly with comedians so that puts a stop to aggressively gaining a timeslot.

Oh well. This just means I should focus on other comedy spots. There is an open mike everyday of the week in Minnesota. Not all of them are ideal venues like the one I've been weekly attending, but I can't be pick when it comes to experience. The simple act of practicing, performing and writing material will grow me into a better comedian. Simply waiting for the best opportunities will deny me of the exponential growth of regular practice.

A copy of what my set would have been is posted above.



-Pradeepan


FASHION [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 24-27]








HELLO!

Sorry I haven't blogged about comedy the last few days. I've been busy with fashion photography and some other side pilgrimages (a blogrimage without the blog) I've been doing!

I'm doing an open mike tomorrow (hopefully)!

Saturday was a big photography day. I worked with the Former Miss Teen USA MN (pictures posted below) and then did runway photography for a magazine later that night (video above).

All in all, it was a bunch of new experiences for me. I've never been to a runway show, and like with comedy, got introduced to a whole new subculture. I love new experiences like that.

There are whole worlds of society I have no idea about.

Seeing fresh experiences like this gives me a lot of material for comedy, so I also welcome these new events for tangible reasons as well. Plus, I got to meet a ton of new photographers. They were very nice, inviting and had way better equipment than me. Oh well. I'll just keep growing with what I have.

Peace!


DIFFERENT LOOKS [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 21]

At the end of work, I sat in an office with my co-worker guys, and talked about comedy. There are so many different styles of comedy that I'm unaware of. The subculture within stand up is amazing. If you have not been to an open mike or a comedy club, please try it. You might have to endure language and crude comments, but you'll get a social commentary into your neighbors hearts.

We are often disconnected from the society around us these days. Between garages and facebook, it is so easy to isolate oneself. This stand up comedy subculture is a unique insight into what people think is funny or offensive.

-Pradeepan

DENIED [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 20]




Went to the open mike today, and didn't make the list. More than 50 people signed up to perform, and only 20 made it to the stage. Tonight a documentary crew came to film some amateur comedians, so the club pulled out a lot of the regulars.

They do, however, always incorporate first time comedians into the show. So the first 5 or 10 comedians absolutely bombed their sets. Since I've been watching stand up comedy, tonight was probably the worst set I've ever seen. It made me especially upset because I didn't get to perform. Even though it was a bummer, I was a little encouraged by the lack of quality I saw by first timers. Hopefully this doesn't sound arrogant, but I saw the difference in talent. Some people will have to work much harder to become stand ups than others.

On an encouraging note, a different club owner approached me and said that he remembered me performing last week and that I should perform at his venue. He'd give me more time and a guaranteed spot. I might do this just to get more experience. The venue won't have as many people or be as prestigious though.

Oh well. The experience will be well worth it if I choose to go ahead with it.

-Pradeepan

BACK [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 19]

Hello, thanks for excusing my posting hiatus. Sri Lanka played against India, and, unfortunately, lost in the World Cup. Since the games were in Asia, I woke up at 4am to watch the matches, and took my schedule, and posting, on a spin.

Anyways, I thought of another cool BLOGRIMAGE idea today. Make a short film every week. Shoot the raw footage, and edit a little bit a each day. You could even make a month long show with a daily episode. Shoot a bunch on the weekend, and then edit that raw footage each night.

Tomorrow is Monday, so I'm going to to an open Mike again. I haven't written anything yet, so I hope I can come up with something good. Last week, I tried so hard to write something and I didn't end up putting anything in stone until right before the show. I shouldn't be as nervous this time, but I am--it sucks not having  a ton of material. Writing is still the hardest part of this whole game.

A lot of the other comics repeat the same material week after week. I want to write new material each time I do an open mike. It's a challenge, but that's what this is all about.

I took some pictures of my girlfriend, I'll post them here:





MENTOR? [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 16]



A student asked me to mentor her in comedy today.

This is so strange, considering I hardly know what I'm going.

A student came up to me and said, "you got to try my fried chicken if you stay you don't like it."

I'm still gathering a lot of material, and the people around me give a lot of jokes.




STUDENT TEST [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 15]



At school, my debut video was presented to the entire school and supporting community. I really never thought that my students considered me very funny--we have entirely different backgrounds. Suburbs vs. Inner-city.

My students, to my surprise, really got into my stand up comedy, clapped and celebrated me after. A couple of students came up to me, shook my hand and said that my set killed.

This BLOGRIMAGE has developed a habit in me to constantly observe. I never know when I'll gain new material, so my eyes are open and my pen is ready to capture anything hilarious. It could be a thought, a comment or an event that triggers a hilarious joke process.

I'm looking for more open mikes and I will continue to perform.

On a funny note, I just got some cool photo opportunities. In a couple of weeks, I'm doing a shoot with the Miss Teen USA from MN 2010, two weddings in May, and a graphic design job for a non profit. I'm stoked about these "artistic jobs." They pay well, and I get to work art that I enjoy. Never thought I'd shoot A Miss Teen.

Comedy!

-Pradeepan

LESSON LEARNED [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 14]



[Language in this video, but good demonstration of discussing stereotypes]

I really appreciate all the love people have given me over my debut! Thanks to everyone of the kind words and support.

At work today, some of my coworkers listened to the stand up and told me that they really enjoyed it--so much that they want to present it to the entire student body (I work at a high school).

While feeling pretty good about myself, I talked to my sister and found out that she was disappointed in me for being racist. At one point in the joke, I say that I'm not black because I'm not good at basketball and hate fried chicken. After this, I also make a reference to Sri Lankans liking curry. My sister, with great intentions, was looking out for me and trying to prevent any heat.

This got me paranoid about being racist. So I talked to my co workers (most are African-American), and asked if anybody was offended by the stand up. The overall consensus stood that it's not offensive in comedy, and it's cool because I was making fun of myself as much as other cultures. They also said I shouldn't be paranoid and the material was extremely clean and appropriate. Whew.

My family grew up with tons of diversity. At one of our famous Jeeva parties, it wouldn't be odd for 15 different nations to be represented. Growing up in this manner, got all of us to be very comfortable with matters of race. Stereotypes and all racial nonsense seemed so ridiculous to us because we were so American. None of us were hardly the things we were said to be, but embraced so much of our culture at the same time. Joking about each others stereotypes was funny because of this. That being said, I'm very comfortable joking about race matters from a perspective that not a lot of people have been given. I'm not racist.

It's a great lesson to be learned. I don't want to be a dirty comic or get easy laughs from risky subjects just for the sake of ease. On the other hand, I want to freely discuss the issues that I observe.

My sister is challenging me to be a comic that jokes about reality and makes people think. I'd love to make people think, though I'm having a hard enough time making people laugh. Baby steps, baby steps.

Not a racist,

Pradeepan


MY STAND UP COMEDY DEBUT!!! [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 13]



Stand up comedy club open mike nights only allow 20 comics to perform. Some are national headliners, some are regulars and other are newbies like me. I got to the venue at 6:00pm, signed up on a list (put a star by name to indicate it was my first time), and waited to see if I made the cut. At 7:30 the club posted this list. I wasn't sure if I'd make because this is one of the top five comedy clubs in America, but I made it!
















Notice that my name is the first on the list! I made it, but I was the opening act! I was just happy that I wasn't one of the other twenty that didn't make the list.

This morning, I didn't have a script memorized and nothing memorized. I just did not feel confident with any of my material. Eventually, as the time drew near, I had to pick something and go with it. So for 1.5 hours before the show I paced the club hallways memorizing my material. I was scared out of my mind, but the BLOGRIMAGE must go on.

As the first act, they called my name and I took the stage. It all kind of feels like a blur to me. What a rush, though! Hearing the crowd laugh, knowing some of my material worked, and that I had accomplished a goal made all the anxiety worth it.

The crowd actually laughed at a lot of my stuff. I felt confident on the stage and enjoyed every moment of it. Only at one point did I blank, but I can't even notice it on the video. After I got off the stage, one of the audience members high fived me. Mind you, none of the other comics received any high fives!

I'm glad this BLOGRIMAGE is happening. I'm so thankful for the people who came to support me--especially my girlfriend. She is the best and has truly supported me through this whole process.

One of my personal highlights is that a comic asked me if this was my first time performing. When I told him it was, he said that I need to continue doing this. Thanks, man.

Well, I'm going to keep going and try to get better. Who knows what will happen by the end of the 30 days.

-Pradeepan

DEALING WITH FAILURE [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 12]



I'm taking a few post-master's classes for my state Principal licensure, and my teacher assigned us a few leadership videos to watch. The video posted above is not one of them, but the same producer of a different video we were assigned.

It discusses the ideals of failure. I'm a huge fan of failure, but freaked out by it. In my private life, I love failing. In my public life, however, I hate it.

Tomorrow night (my debut performance), it's very possible that I will fail, and that's okay. I picked stand up comedy for this BLOGRIMAGE because it scared me the most. It still does scare me.

I practiced some jokes on my friend today and he did not laugh nearly as much as I would like. The jokes felt sterile and the content seemed lacking. Then, I tried my jokes on my roommate, and as usual, he laughed at them all. I think my jokes are a little more funny If I am a character. I might play that up tomorrow night by creating a character that is not me. We'll see.

I have to finalize my material and memorize it. Yikes.

However it goes, it's going to be awesome.

-Pradeepan

THREE MINUTES [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 11]

























On Monday, I'm signing up for the open mike at the Acme Comedy Co (one of the top 5 comedy clubs in America) and I don't feel prepared. Newcomers only get three minute sets and depending on how you do with performing and etiquette, you can perform again for five minutes the following week.

I'm primarily nervous because bombing the set could hurt my chances of performing again in this great environment. Nonetheless, I must try, despite potential failure.

I'm also nervous because I really want to be good at this.

Today I went to a coffee shop, wrote and practiced my jokes on my girlfriend. It's crazy how eliminating a word here or there and rephrasing something can turn a bad joke into a good one. One liners are fun to write, but are hard to think of. I kind of just wait for something to pop in my mind, and then I write it down. Writing stories is a lot harder. For some reason, my stories have been my weakness in comedy. This is surprising because it's my strength in real life.

To keep me thinking, I could use some help.
Please comment with half sentences and I'll finish them.

 For example, a comment could look like, "The other day I walked into a grocery store and..." or something crazy. And I'll try to finish it.

-Pradeepan

JOKES AND SUSHI [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 10]


Another Friday night with my family means another chance to practice joking. We went to a sushi restaurant, and a lot of people were interested in the comedy challenge. Naturally, I got to practice a few of the one liners I had been working on.

This environment felt especially natural after the sterile couch performances from last week. A lot of my one liners went over really well--not all of them, though. There were a few times when I naturally told a story and everybody laughed and said they liked that joke. The thing is, I wasn't trying to tell a joke, it was not preemptive humor, and it went over well. Then I'd try to tell the joke again to another person and it'd become all sterile. Must bridge the natural to stage humor gap!

Hanging out with groups is great for gathering material for two reasons.

1. Conversations and jokes naturally happen
2. It makes everyone paranoid (I loved writing in my notebook whenever my cousins would speak and then make eye contact)

Today, I watched the dvd Zach Galifianakis: Live from the Purple Onion.

It's the most unique comedy dvd I've seen. It felt more like a documentary than a stand up set. His routine is highly abstract, and while it is entertaining, it's not my favorite. I respect the genius of it and give him mad credibility, but I wouldn't want to watch the dvd again. Maybe a few certain parts, but I think part of the appeal of his persona is not knowing what to expect.

Peace.

Pradeepan

WRITING AND WRITING [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 10]


[Mitch Hedberg: One liner king]

Writing stand up comedy is probably the most difficult part of this whole process. Performing, memorizing and editing material is much easier once material exists. Creativity is a core issue for stand up comedy. Comedians that use "easy" material to get results are considered hacks. In order to maintain respect amongst comedians and audiences, it is important to develop original, innovative and consistently fresh material.

This is so difficult. 

I sat in a coffee shop and kept my pen moving--one of the best cures for writer's block. No matter how dumb my jokes were I kept the pen moving. 

More than stories, I focused a bit on one liners today. One liners are great for openings, breaking the ice and building momentum. Many of the one liners I wrote are pretty bad, but I think some can work.

Here's a bad one I wrote:

When people tell me that I count, I tell them I can spell too.

Who knows what jokes work with a live audience. I sure don't. I want to get some of these in my arsenal for quick laughs and building upon small victories.


TOOK DOWN THE VIDEO [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 9]

Yesterday I posted a video of Aziz Ansari, and after 800,000 views and one night on my blog, it was taken down. I guess my blog brought too much exposure.

Today, I watched a Bryan Regan DVD called, "The Epitome of Hyperbole." I love his story telling using daily observations. Most of the day was spent on music, so after the DVD I didn't focus on comedy as much as I would have liked to.

Here's a crazy video of my roommate dancing to a song I quickly put together on garageband.

WATCHED FIRST OPEN MIKE [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 7]


Not all comedians are funny.

Feeling more confident after attending an open mike night for the first time. I went back to the ACME COMEDY CO (one of the top 5 comedy clubs in America) and watched more than 20 amateur comedians.

This BLOGRIMAGE opened my eyes to a whole sub culture that I am very familiar with. Though I'm not sure what other venues are like, this club is very inviting. A few comedians bombed sets and the audience didn't heckle or insult the act. Actually, the audience was very forgiving and let the people try until some of the jokes came through--the audience wanted to laugh.

Not everyone was very funny. You can easily tell the polished people from the rookies. Stuttering over words, forgetting lines, making horrible jokes are all indicators of bad comedians. This night also help me to indicate something.

I can do this.

Next week, I'm signing up for the Monday night open mike. Newbies only get 3 minutes to perform and may not get stage time at all. Either way, I'm going to have material ready to go. Even if I suck, I feel like this can be a good experience. If I do my homework, practice and get some local feedback, there's no reason I should bomb the set.

Some of my observations from the night:

-Be confident
-One liners are great for building momentum or changing subjects
-Jokes need to be concise
-When the audience doesn't relate or understand, the humor is lost
-Jokes don't have to be in order. Changing subjects rapidly works
-Start and end strong. The middle can be paced a little more slow
-Body language really emphasizes
-Don't be annoying
-Build on laughter. Don't wait for the crowd to stop laughing
-Forgetting a line isn't the end of a set. Move on
-Some people look like they are going to be funny

Hope you enjoy the video above. Do you think she was one of the funny or unfunny comedians?

-Pradeepan

MORE RESEARCH [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 6]




Today was not too eventful or exciting. For today's challenge, I continued to research (watch other stand up comics) and write a little bit. Trying to write comedy like the people I see is a bit challenging. What material works and what doesn't s kind of a mystery. Hopefully I'll find out before I try entertain a crowd.

As I research, I'm acknowledging that there are many different styles. Joe Wong (the comedian I posted in the video above) is so unique. He's comfortable in his own skin, timing and content. Yet, his unorthodox material works.

A five minute set is not long at all. If I start off poorly, though, it will be very long. Tomorrow, I hope to attend an amateur night. I don't plan on competing but who knows what could happen.

-Pradeepan

WATCHING MY FIRST LIVE SHOW [stand up comedy BLOGRMAGE: DAY 5]



Tonight, I watched my first live show! The energy, crowd, atmosphere and the entire feel completely energized me. Instead of associating stand up with fear, seeing the ACME COMEDY CO invigorated and pressed a desire inside of me to be on that stage. The crowd wanted to laugh--everyone could feel it. More than anything, they weren't that scary. It felt like a family living room with everyone talking over each other to share the next funny story.

Also, for the first time I said, "I think I can do this." Something about the stage would bring out a different side of my humor. I think part of the unnatural presentations problems I've had resulted due to unnatural environments.

I'm excited to write material that works. I'm excited to work on body language and communicate. Causing a crowd to laugh and riding that rush has got to be amazing.

Right now, I suck, but hopefully by the end of 30 days, I will write a piece that works in real life.

-Pradeepan