Things That Make You Go, “Ugh!”


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I will never claim to be funnier than any other stand up comedian. I truly believe that comedy is subjective. That is to say that what makes me laugh will not necessarily make you laugh. Having said that, there are some things that make me shudder when I watch relatively new comics take to the stage. I think, for the most part, it is an evolution of sorts. When a comic is starting out, it is very easy to seem less then genuine. Inexperienced comics tend to go for what they assume to be, and easy laugh. Here is a list of the things I see and hear that make me want to look away in disgust.

  1. Toilet humor:
    Yeah, we all poop. We all fart. We all have diarrhea after eating Taco Bell. On the surface, this type of humor seems funny, because as kids, we always laughed at this subject matter. But on a stand up comedy stage? Unless you’re bringing a new angle to the subject, leave the poop jokes on the throne. The audience has most likely heard em’ all.
  2. Talking about banging other chicks while your girlfriend or wife, or both, are sitting in the audience:
    If any of the audience members know that this is the case, they will undoubtedly look in the direction of your companion after you’ve delivered the punchline about how you didn’t think your fist could do “that”. This takes attention away from your joke and causes a disconnect with the crowd. The audience then spends the rest of your set imagining the horrible things that will take place when you and the Mrs. get home. I know that being “real” on stage is important, but let’s not get too “real”. Stand up comedy is more than bringing reality to the surface, it’s about doing it in such a way that others can laugh and not feel guilty doing so.
  3. Political Rant:
    No one cares, man…No one cares. If we wanted to hear political views, we would tune in to talk radio or at least watch the political commentary shows on Comedy Central. Don’t remind us about how bad a shape this country is in. If we were being invaded by China, the audience wouldn’t give a crap. We just wanna enjoy our drinks and get entertained like the Roman Emperors we all are!
  4. Internet Jokes:
    I can’t even believe that this one has to be mentioned. Look, if you read a joke on the internet and think that you are the only one in the entire world that was privy to that masterpiece, you are as confused as Bill Clinton on the witness stand! Nothing, and I mean, nothing, angers me more than to see a comic get credit for a joke they did not write. Sure, you’ll get the laughs, but you will lose the respect of those you call, “fellow comics”. Grow up and bomb doing your own stuff!
  5. Going Over Your Time:
    Most audience members have no idea what “going over your time” means. Simply put, the club or venue allows every comedian a certain amount of time to perform their set. Apart from the orderly function of this aspect of stand up, it also allows the next comic to get themselves pumped and ready to take their turn. When a comedian goes over their time, the comedian following them begins to fume on the inside. Thoughts like the following, go through the next comic’s mind, “When is he gonna get off!” “The jokes haven’t been working and they’re still in search of a great closing?!” Look, do your time and once you see the “light” given by the sound guy, FINISH AND GET OFF THE STAGE! Make it a habit of not getting off when you’re supposed to, and you will find that you will either, not be allowed back, or your next appearance will be much shorter than you anticipated. Be a professional and FOLLOW THE LIGHT!

Alright, I could go on, however, I like keeping things short to keep my readers engaged. If you have anything to add to this list, be my guest! I enjoy reading each and every response.

Bombing; When Being in a Room Full of People Makes You Feel Alone


Bombing, (not getting any laughs while on stage), is not only a learning experience, it is an absolute certainty in the business of stand up. Last night was one of those nights for me. I will not make any excuses about why my set did not do so well. I will attempt to describe the environment I was in and feelings running through my head at the time. Here we go:

The stage is set at a local bar, which has made Tuesday nights a regular stand up comedy night. For the most part, the audiences can be 50/50 when it comes to being receptive. Tonight, the show is delayed as U.S.A battles Mexico in a soccer World Cup qualifying match. The game ultimately ends in a zero tie. A few people have left at the conclusion of the game, but most have stayed. Some of the patrons are regulars and some are fresh new faces. The bar can occupy at least 100 people. By the time the show starts, everyone has settled in to their socializing and drinking and the show begins 30 minutes after the soccer game has ended. The promoter of the show, and fellow comic, asks me if I am willing to go on first to “break the ice”. I reluctantly agree. I say that because I am accepting the daunting task of trying to get everyone’s attention with some humor while they are all enjoying their drinks and camaraderie. Being the first to take the stage is perceived as a losing effort. The assumption that you are funny and going first is at a negative rating. The way I see it, however, I am now a semi professional at this. I can “break the ice!”

My name is introduced, then my “Jump Around” intro music is played. No one recognizes my name and my out dated music does not seem to resonate with anyone in the audience. I take the stage to the sound of continuous chatter and absolutely no applause. No biggie. I will get them with my first joke. I get up, I greet the crowd and get in to my fist joke. I use a joke that gets laughs 100% of the time. It works, but only 1/3rd of the audience is with me. I can tell that continuing at this pace, I will end the show with the same 1/3rd of the crowd. I decide to “riff” (talk directly to specific member of the audience), in an effort to get them more engaged. I select to speak with 2 black guys, the only 2 black guys, seated at a table a few feet away from me. I make a joke about black people living in a predominately Latino town and the joke goes over well. But it goes well with the same 1/3rd of the audience. At this point, I think I can now take these people by the hand to my prepared material. I go for it! I go in to a bit about annoying people in Mexican parties. The bit is fairly new but did incredibly well at the comedy club where I hosted 7 straight shows last week, and I am being modest about it just doing “well”. It actually did way better than that! I get to the first punchline of the joke…nothing…I move quickly to the second punchline…nothing but blank faces. I move on to the 3rd punchline and get a few laughs, then a huge laugh when I describe the creepy family member that checks out all the women at the party. Then I get to the funniest part of the joke AND….nothing. Absolutely nothing.

At this point, I am sure you are asking yourself, “Why would anyone put themselves through that? If it were me, I do not know what I would do!” I am on my 7th year of doing stand up and only 4 years in to doing it as aggressively as I have been. I can now go on stage and handle the silence and the blank stares. Often times, I will even let the silence linger long enough for someone to feel the need to laugh! It is a technique that comes with time and patience. I realize that a complete “bomb” on stage is when a comic gets no laughter, but for me, if the laughs are not consistent and sincere, I have bombed. Pure and simple.

What keeps a comic like me going back to the stage night in and night out despite episodes like the one I have described? It is that stubborn feeling that I can still do better. I can learn to win over an audience like this one. I can take the few laughs that I did get and use those bits again when in front of a similar crowd. Yes, every audience is different, but just as you may have learned new techniques or procedures at your job, a stand up comic learns and applies those to each and every show.

If you ever meet a comic that has not been in the business for too long and boasts about how they will soon rise to the top, rest assured, “soon” really means 10 to 15 years. Most stand up comedians have quit way before then.

On to the next show tonight!!

I Got Fired


Yup, 3 weeks ago, I was canned from my stock broker job. Am I disappointed? Heck no! I feel as free as I’ve ever felt before! The job was not exactly what I though it would be when I first applied for it. Then again, what did I expect working for a stock brokerage firm located in the “Financial Capital of the World”, El Paso, Texas?

I didn’t panic when I was given the “We have decided to part ways” speech? In fact, the only thing going through my mind during that speech was, “Well, can we still be friends?” I was already thinking about what a great bit this would make for my stand up comedy act!

Now that I have all the time in the world, I have an opportunity to really pursue my stand up comedy career! I am going to take advantage of this and do all that I can to market myself and create a great fan base! I have already taken step one, and that was to create a web site for myself. Although it’s still a work in progress, it’s up and ready to go! Here is that link:

http://www.bumpynose.com/

The hardest part of creating that web site was to come up with a memorable name. Who in the world would remember something like omar_tarango.com? I couldn’t give that out on stage and expect the audience to care enough to remember such a forgettable name! Ah, but if they remembered the size of my nose? Yeah, that would do it! Just remember the comedian with the bumpy nose and VOILA!

Second, I have, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, decided to completely abandon Facebook. Well, not entirely. I will update my profile picture regularly to include any of my upcoming shows, but that’s it! I will no longer post any more one liners or new material that I’ve written. I will leave that up to the stage. Besides, as I’ve mentioned before, Facebook is nothing more than a public stage allowing EVERYONE and opportunity to show just how clever and creative they really are and trying to stand out in the forum is like trying to commit suicide by slicing your wrists with elementary school plastic scissors. I’ll pass! The real litmus test for my material is the stage and nothing else!

Thirdly, you will be hearing more from me on this blog. I will update this blog often and the range of topics will vary. I am also considering changing the name of my blog from Underdog Comedy to Bumpy Nose.

So, stay tuned for more and wish me luck!

I’m a Horrible Blogger


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I haven’t kept up with this blog as often as I wanted to. As a comic, the wheels in my head do turn on a regular basis but often times, they only turn is small spurts. Unfortunately for me, they never turn when I want them to! My head is constantly filled with joke ideas and premises, but unless a punch line suddenly comes to mind, those ideas and premises are soon just gone. Here are some of those thoughts. Keep in mind, these are just thoughts, no punchlines have been even remotely explored:

1. Most movies could have ended within the first 5 minutes. (Now I just need to think of some movies that could have easily ended that quickly. Like The Karate Kid. That movie could have ended when Daniel’s mother tells him they’re moving to California, then Daniel announces, “Mom, my girlfriend is pregnant.” Boom! They never move and he never gets picked on and never learns karate.)

2. Press conferences in sports are boring because they use the same old repeated answers. I’m trying to come up with a different situation where press conferences, using those same responses they use in sports, may be funny. This is what I have so far:

Press conferences in sports are boring. They always say things like: “We have to come together as a team.” I thing it would be more interesting if those same answers could be used in a press conference after sex: “You were a little premature today and that cost you. Any thoughts on that?”….”Well, I now realize that as a team, we have to come together.”

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you’re reading this, I would LOVE your feedback and suggestions!

It’s Over…


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I am seriously considering leaving Facebook. I’m slowly starting to realize that, far from being a promotional tool to get the word out on my stand up comedy journey, Facebook is nothing more than a public stage open to anyone and everyone. How in the world is someone supposed to get noticed that way! I’m trying to do something that very few people can do, and that’s stand up on a stage, where 100% of the audience’s attention is on me and no one else. Their ears hanging on every word that proceeds out of my mouth. I’m alone up there and my voice is the only one that can be heard creating all the laughter in the room. No one there is laughing at anything else. When I’m up there, it’s all about me, me me!

Let’s face it, that is exactly what Facebook is. We login and read the Newsfeed, which is filled with countless of posts begging us to “Like”, “Share” and “Comment”. There is also a barrage of posts including funny quotes or lines that are often times not original. I think that’s what annoys me the most. Try this, next time you see a post with a funny joke or quote, which the person seems to be taking all the credit for, cut and paste the entire line to your Internet browser and watch how often it is duplicated as a search result will discover several sites containing the same line! What’s even more frustrating is that when other people comment on those posts, the person posting it continues to take all of the credit! Comments such as, “Oh Paul, you always make my day with your hilarious posts! How do you come up with them so often?” Then Paul will reply, “It’s not easy but you’re very welcome!” UGH!!!!!! Cutting and pasting IS VERY EASY!!! I hate to sound like an attention whore, but honestly, at least for me, if I am trying to stand out and represent myself and what I do as a stand up comic, then I need to think of original ways of doing so. I can’t rely on a social network where originality is thrown out of the window. Succumbing to the temptation of visiting my Facebook makes me no different than everybody else. I can’t keep doing that if I hope to one day create a following that admires me for what I do and how I do it. Yes, I’m looking for that admiration but even more so, I’m looking to STAND OUT in a day and age where everyone else already does….

Signed,

The Underdog Comic