October 31, 2012

All comics eve...

Well, it’s Halloween... The time when people celebrate taking on another persona. I always love seeing what people like to dress up as because it shows a side of their personality that usually lays dormant. It’s always refreshing to see the energy that comes out of a person when they have allowance, even for just one night a year, to let loose and be a character.

For most, it’s a chance to use a persona to let loose once a year, but for some stand-up comedians, transforming into a character is an aid used 365 days a year. Taking on a certain persona can be a great tool for a stand-up, especially a comic that has any sort of public speaking issues. Feeling a room full of eyes on you while you try not to screw up your own material can be very intimidating. It’s tough balancing out the task of delivering a joke just right, while at the same time, trying to get your personality across to a room of strangers. As comics, we look for approval from an audience, it’s germane to what we do. 

Now, approval can come in many forms. Its laughter, gasps of shock over what you just said, more simply, a genuine interest in what you have to say. It’s up to the stand-up to figure out how to gain this approval. Some people create personalities to deal with social functions such as high school reunions, weddings, family get togethers, and even the work environment. It makes a person’s 3 minutes of small talk go by quick and painless. 

But for a comic, a personality is created to help 3 minutes of jokes get delivered in the manner they were intended to be delivered. For some comics, delivery and recovery from a bomb come naturally. It’s a type of personality trait that can be admired, but for some introverts, it’s intimidating to follow on stage. Comics new to the scene can attest to that. But the same social personas that are used to deal with day to day small talk can make all the difference for certain comics.

Do any of you remember being the class clown in school? I do. It was a great way to break down social awkwardness and get approval from classmates through laughter. I dialed my personality up a few notches to make it easier to put myself out there and make people laugh. I could flip it on like a switch. This is what some comics do when they hit the stage. Currently, I’m trying to find a good medium in my stand-up between the personality I used in school and my every day attitude to make my nightly 3 minutes of joke telling less awkward and more controllable. And by controllable, I mean me being able to move on to the next joke without wetting myself.

So, while Halloween comes and goes every year, open mics are a nightly event here in Chicago. Seeing people take on another persona is always celebrated because it allows them to delivery their jokes as indented. Personas are always allowed to grace our stages so their written material can grace our ears as intended. While comics may submit to a more docile personality for their 9-5 job, their extravagant persona is always welcome each night to bring new material to an awaiting and accepting audience. Introvert, rejoice, for every day is all comics-eve.

Zach Protzmann
Contributing Writer