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Underside - Say Something Funny!

Author: Dave Jory
Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Why are prostitutes smarter than stand-up comedians-
Because prostitutes ask for the money before they perform the act.
If you’re trying to work in an artistic field, it is generally understood that there is an apprenticeship during which you will not get paid any money. If you aspire to be a musician, a painter or a writer, you know that you have to learn your craft. That’s fine. You’ve gotta pay your dues, right-
But with stand-up comedy the apprenticeship can often last forever. You just never get paid. And with self esteem levels at record lows amongst Australian comedians, that problem looks set to worsen.
Comedy attracts what I call ‘bruised fruit’. Most comedians don‘t even want you to laugh. They’re just on-stage to confirm the toxic, hateful stuff they already think about themselves. So being financially exploited on top of that is actually beneficial.
I didn’t get paid a cent for the first two years I did stand-up. But every night I’d drag myself around to all these crummy Sydney bars, doing my crummy five-minute act. Because it wasn’t about the money. It was about…well it wasn’t about the money.
So you’ve read this and you’re thinking ’All this does is reinforce why I never go out to see live comedy. What is the point of this article-’ The point is that most people don’t go and see comedy. And therefore most people are totally missing out. Most people see bands. Or they play the poker machines. Or they just stay home and watch TV shows about people in bands or people who play poker machines. Anything but comedy.
But you should really go.
Yes, sometimes it is bad. Yes, sometimes you’ll have to sit through comics doing terrible Austin Powers or Arnie impersonations. And yes, sometimes you’ll witness such appalling lapses in taste and judgement, that it will take your breath away. But watching a comedian die on-stage is actually one of the most hilarious spectacles a person can witness. It‘s a great night out, because each death is different. I‘ve watched good friends of mine die horribly on-stage and it‘s left me smiling for days. I‘ve personally been on-stage bombing out and thought, ‘I wish it could be sitting in the audience watching this’. It is deliciously excruciating and if you’ve got a sadistic streak in you, there’s nothing else like it in the world.
And that’s just the BAD stuff.
At its best, you’ll quickly see that Australian comedy is a brilliantly creative scene. It’s populated by great people and the immediacy, the ‘anything can happen‘ nature of it makes it a really dynamic environment to hang around in. And if you‘re in the audience, you are part of that. The audience is never more crucial than with comedy. There are no passive comedy audiences. Audience reaction dictates the evening. You’ll never hear a comic say, ‘Well the audience gave me absolutely nothing, but apart from that it was a great show.’ There is no ‘apart from that’. The audience IS the show.
At the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last year I performed my show in the basement of a backpacker hostel, at 10:30pm every night. And I usually only got about 10 people through the door for each show. But I loved those 10 people like family, because they’d shown up.
On the other side of the coin, I opened for Weird Al Yankovic in front of a crowd of 2000 people in Sydney. Right before the gig, Weird Al came in to my dressing room to meet me. We shook hands then he wrapped his arms around me and hissed in to my ear: ‘I wanna feel you inside me’. I remember thinking, ‘Damn, he really is weird’.
Our meeting didn’t exactly go like that, but nevertheless I think it illustrates an irrelevant point.
So if you wanna go to a place where you are wanted. To a place where everybody wants to know your name (and what you do), seek out live comedy. You might not hit the jackpot right away, but if you persist and go see a few shows, you’ll be converted, I guarantee. The comedy circuit has stand-up rooms that are priced to fit every budget, ranging from absolutely free, to just slightly more than absolutely free.
You might even see me there. And if you do, feel free to scream out, ‘Hey asshole, I read your article about stand-up comedy and I’m here to tell you, you absolutely suck!’
Me and every other comic in the place will just be happy you showed up.

Check out this week’s Giveaways section for your chance to win a double pass to see Dave at the Roxbury this Saturday. You can also catch Dave on Dools and Linda’s show on triple J every Tuesday at 4.30pm in his segment I Love This Crowd.