I’ll run into a comic I haven’t seen in a while at an open mic and ask the usually “where you been hiding?” And it almost always the same excuses. That their job gets in the way. Having a family makes it hard to get out to mics. They are having relationship issues or a loved one has fallen ill. Or just the stresses and pressures in their current situation is just too overwhelming to focus on comedy. They had to take a break. Which is understandable.
But then they take the stage and they are doing the same old shit, delivered the same way they used to deliver it. Then they get off stage and complain that they aren’t feeling it. That they can’t perform the way they used to with all these distractions in their life currently.
Comedy is not only something we perform, it is something we feel. When done right, the audience connects with out emotions. They feel what we feel. if you go on stage without feeling and it seems like you are just “mailing it in” then that is how the audience is going to feel. Trying to fake one feeling when you are experiencing something entirely different in reality is causing an internal struggle that will show outwardly. In other words, why are you trying to hide the struggle when you could be embracing it? You shouldn’t expect to have the same results now, while being overwhelmed with life’s burdens then you did when comedy was your main focus.
Try writing about what you are currently going through. For some comics, that is how they get through rough times. By getting it out of their minds and onto paper, then eventually spewing it on an open mic stage, in a therapeutic sort of way. You don’t need to ever perform these jokes if you aren’t comfortable with sharing these events or issues. The jokes you write don’t need to be factual. But they do need to allow your emotions to be addressed. And creating humor is your strength. So, make fun of what is ailing you. Laugh at the situation. Even if it is just for yourself. Unbottle the problems. Who knows, you may come up with some brand new material. Instead of trying to separate comic and person, combine the two. Letting those 2 worlds meet will allow the bad feelings, stress or pressures become emotional fuel for your creativity and passion.
If writing about it doesn’t do the trick, go on stage and channel the feelings you have and deliver from that point of view. If you are depressed, deliver your material in that frame of mind. Even if your jokes are silly, embrace your current mood and tell the jokes from that mindset. If you are angry, deliver from a place of anger. This will make you think about how you are presenting the material. And if you are focused on what you are doing, you can’t be distracted. You will be too focused. Don’t worry about other comics questioning what you are doing. You may find that this use of emotion helps the material or teaches you to change tones and moods while telling a joke to further enhance the connection you have with the audience. or you just might look silly. Either way, you are working things out. And that is what open mics are for.
Once I started embracing my struggles, my writing and focused changed, I found that when discussing my issues onstage, in an exaggerated manner, that audiences related to my material more. When I used to try and hide what was happening or how I was feeling, the audience and I had a disconnect. Even if I didn’t do a joke about what I was currently wrestling with, I would deliver from the emotion I was feeling. And the audience would and could relate, because all people go through shit. And they could feel better about their situations because they realized they weren’t alone in feeling like that or experiencing those things. And I felt better about it because I was venting my troubles, laughing at my pains and embracing my struggles.
The second life starts to stop you from taking a stage, writing a joke or working on your set, stop whatever is happening and make time for comedy. Comedy is all of our passion. It is our love. It is what we do to feel good. Also use it to deal with your pain. Comedy is our therapy. Don’t push it aside when times are tough. Those times is when you need it more than ever. Embrace struggle.