Once people discover that you’re a comedy writer or performer, they’ll subject you to the story of “Good Old Charlie” down at the office. They’ll insist that he’s the funniest person they’ve ever met. He’s hilarious at parties and no matter what topic you want to discuss, he’ll turn it into a comedic gem. They’ll guarantee that he could have made a fortune if he had only gone into comedy.
Without meaning to dis “Good Old Charlie” and hoping not to come off as sounding superior to him, “Good Old Charlie” probably would not have made it in the comedy world. To be fair, I probably should say he might have made it, but he probably would have had to change from “Good Old Charlie” to “Good Old Hard-working Charlie.”
“Good Old Charlie” has the luxury of being funny whenever the spirit moves him, whenever he’s inspired. He may be hysterical whenever he turns it on. However that’s still not enough for a professional career.
Professionals can’t depend on inspiration alone. They can’t perform only when they feel like it. They can’t rely on “top of the head” comedy, either. “Good Old Charlie” can. There’s a big difference.
Professionals must work on demand. When the comic you’re working for calls, you must start producing quality material. When the comic tells you what sort of routine he wants, that’s the routine you have to deliver. It may be on a topic you know nothing about. It may be about a place you never heard of. It may be about someone who’s not particularly interesting. Your job is to find out something to write about and make it funny.
Stand-up comics have to be able to be exciting on stage whether they feel inclined to be exciting or not. They may have to be funny when they don’t feel funny. Their material and their delivery should be tried and tested.
Professional comedy writers and performers must be dependable. Bob Hope invited me on several of his military jaunts. I once asked him why he did bring me along. He said, “Gene, you write funny, you write fast, and you’re expendable.” I was proud of the “funny” and “fast” comments. I was a little afraid of the “expendable” part since we were in a war zone.
It’s the dependability – and the work that went into acquiring that level of dependability – that sets the experienced writers and performers apart from “Good Old Charlie.”
Again, I should emphasize that comedy is not a snobbish, closed profession. It welcomes anyone that can deliver solid humor. “Good Old Charlie” is welcome to develop his skills, work at his craft, and break into the comedy business. When he does, we’ll laugh at his talent and applaud his success. And we’ll probably even try to get him to hire us for a few gigs now and again.
Do you have what it takes to win over an audience? Enter Gene Perret’s ROUND TABLE’s new contest. ROUND TABLE has teamed up with Wendy Liebman’s Locally Grown Comedy for this stand-up competition. The winner will not only get a cash prize but will also be given a slot on the October 30, 2018 Locally Grown Comedy Show. For all the details, go to www.comedywritersroom.com/contest. And Good Luck!!
Learn the basics of joke writing with Gene Perret in this 12-week email course offered through ROUND TABLE. Whether you are just beginning or need a refresher course, this program is for you. http://bit.ly/2kllh8h www.comedywritersroom.com.
Master Course in
A 12-week email class that covers the basics of comedy writing. Features lessons and feedback.
Master Course in
A 9-step program that takes the writer through the process of developing a monologue. You will work on a topic of your own choosing.