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A Marine Major, Running Fool, and All-Around Smart-Ass.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

THE BAD SET DECODER RING

For all you would be comedians, I found this very entertaining if not utterly vulgar so be warned.

I actually met this guy in New York. He's was the pudgy white guy in the Dave Chapelle Show skit spoofing The Real World. He played the only white guy in a house full of black people.

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By Christian Finnegan
www.christianfinnegan.com

Every once in a while, I like to share a bit of wisdom with those just starting out in the world of stand-up comedy. I figure it’s the least I can do for a community that has given me so…well, I’m sure it’s given me something. Anyway, I offer you new comics this advice: when you bomb (and trust me, you will bomb–repeatedly), your peers will react to you in a variety of ways. It’s important you learn to decipher these “friendly” comments, so as to determine what is well-intentioned critique (10%) and what is bitter, self-centered assholery (90%).

Here is a short list of things a fellow comic might say to you after a not-so-spectacular set, followed by what each comment truly means. Please keep in mind that I am guilty of having used all of these platitudes at one time or another, and I’m quite certain other comics have used them on me. Enjoy!

POST-SHOW COMMENT: “Good job.”

TRANSLATION: You were a forgettable part of a lackluster evening. I am complimenting you only because I have a vague notion that you performed and now we’ve found ourselves standing around the bar, socializing with the same group of people. I remember that you weren’t offensively bad, but if you asked me right now what I liked about your set, I’d probably say something vague, like “You said something up top that I really loved,” and then excuse myself to go to the men’s room.

POST-SHOW COMMENT: “The crowd really sucked tonight.”

TRANSLATION: I like you as a person, so I am going to help you shift the blame for what just transpired off of your either half-written or over-written jokes and non-existent stage presence to a group of people whose only crime was to spend their hard-earned money and time trying to be entertained by you.

POST-SHOW COMMENT: “Hey, how much time are we supposed to do?”

TRANSLATION: Thanks for going way over your allotted fucking time, asshole. There are seven other comics on the lineup, you goddamn prima donna, including ME! And with every moment that passes before I go up, the chances of the already-dwindling audience calling it a night increases, thereby robbing me of the opportunity to validate my career choice. And don’t give me that “I didn’t see the light” bullshit—I saw you acknowledge the light, and then you went ahead and did another ten minutes. Just because your closer didn’t get laughs, that doesn’t mean you get to keep toggling through bits until you elicit a chuckle substantial enough to slink offstage. You went way over your time and I want to let you know it. Of course, I’m putting my condemnation in the form of a question, so as to deny personal accountability.

POST-SHOW COMMENT: “You’ve really been getting better lately.”

TRANSLATION: Despite my having written you off as someone who will do nothing for the world of comedy other than clog up the works, tonight you somehow managed to make me laugh in spite of myself. Still, because of my deep-seeded resentment for anyone trying to succeed in my chosen field, I’m unable to pay you a straightforward compliment. Therefore, I will subtly imply that, for you, being funny is not the norm, while simultaneously positing myself as someone whose respect and judgment should mean something to you.

POST-SHOW COMMENT: “Brought out the classics tonight, huh?”

TRANSLATION: When the fuck are you going to write some new material? I just wasted eight precious minutes of my life listening to you tell jokes I heard you tell four years ago. And let’s be honest, here: your ‘gold’ ain’t all that golden, something I hope to underscore by my use of the mock-grandiose “classics.”

POST-SHOW COMMENT: “A couple of those bits I hadn’t heard before.”

TRANSLATION: When the fuck are you going to write some new material? The fact that I isolated a “couple” of new bits is meant to convey just how rarely you come up with anything new. Also, note that I never suggested that these “new bits” were the least bit funny.

POST-SHOW COMMENT: “I didn’t see your set. How did it go?”

TRANSLATION: I absolutely saw your set and you ate a dick. In fact, getting a blowjob in front of my mother would be less awkward than witnessing the comedic dirty bomb you just unleashed on the audience. Luckily, I’m reasonably confident you didn’t see me standing in the back of the room, so I can get away with claiming to not have seen your set, rather than force us both to acknowledge how awful you were (and are, if you want my honest opinion). I’m also asking how your set went because I’m curious to see what your response will be. I’m kind of hoping you’ll claim it went really well, so when I meet up with my friends at the bar later, we can have a good laugh at what a deluded fuck you are.

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