Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dear Funny Guy

Dear Funniest Guy Amongst His Group of Friends at the Random Bachelor Party that was across the room at the restaurant Chelsea and I ate at last Friday night,

Hey, Brohammer. What's up? I couldn't help but notice you at the table across the way in the little Argentinian steakhouse that my wife (the lovely Mrs. Chelsea Kelley) and I were enjoying dinner at last Friday night. I mean, that group of dudes you were with (clearly a bachelor party based on all of the jokes about balls and chains and what not) was HUGE! You took up like half of the restaurant! And even though your group of friends was large, and lively, I couldn't help but notice you in particular.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Broseph, but every group of dudes has a funny friend, right? That was clearly you. I could tell you were the funny friend right away when you made a big show of unbuttoning a few extra buttons on your pink dress shirt when you showed up at the restaurant. I mean, you didn't just unbutton your shirt, you danced around, made huge facial gestures, and then pointed to your pecs. Everyone laughed. A good time was had by all.

So, Bro-time, I wanted to talk to you a little bit. You don't know me, and I don't know you, but I think I can help you out a little.

You see, I'm kind of funny too! You were in Wrigleyville, so maybe you've heard of iO Chicago? It's that comedy club on Clark and Addison where they do improv. No, that isn't like stand-up, but I can see how you would make that mistake. Anyway, I perform there! That's right, people pay to see me do comedy! I'm also part of a comedy podcast (the Improvised Star Trek which you can download from iTunes!). We crossed the 50,000 download mark last month!

So, now you know a little bit about my humble comedy background. I'm no comedy celebrity by any stretch, but I've been around the funny block a few times.

Like I said, I wanted to be helpful to you. As a fellow funny person, I have some notes for you so that the next time you are part of a bachelor party, or other large group of people, you can elicit even MORE laughs from your friends, loved ones, and even enemies. Ready? Here we go:

1. Pop culture references- I know bro-J Simpson, Family Guy is the funniest. And Old School? I mean "You're my boy, Blue!" Right? Hilarious. The funniest. It makes sense that you would make reference to works of comedic pop culture amongst your friends. It's easy to pull out references to popular culture and get laughs because- A) most people who have seen those TV shows/movies will get the joke, and B) it's pretty easy to just mention something funny that someone else did. But you know what's even better? Doing your own bits. Like, making up your own jokes and bits based on your own life that have nothing to do with a funny TV Show. I know it isn't as easy as talking about something funny Quagmire did on "Family Guy" last week. But it isn't THAT hard. Use the shared experiences that you and your friends have, your jobs, road trips, sports teams you all like, the situation you find yourself in now, and build dialogue and characters around those. I promise you will get more laughs, and your friends will think way more of you. And you can still sprinkle SOME pop culture references in there. But only as an accent, a spice if you will, to the larger comedic world that you create.

2. Steamrolling- This is a big one, Bro'nuff. You were kind of steamrolling all of your friends. I get it. YOU'RE the funny one. YOU have a joke that YOU'RE dying to get out, but you know as well as I do that there is no I in team (Yes, there is an I in win. I've heard that one). You were just trampling everyone. Whenever one of your friends would try to make a joke of their own, you would interrupt them. It was kind of rude, and deep down, I'm sure those friends probably resent you a little for stepping on their comedic toes. Here's the thing, Brocala, you will have more success being funny if you work WITH your friends, and not against, or on top of them. Through dialogue based on your relationships, you and your friends can build scenes over the long-term that end up in huge laughs at the end. Here's an example- have you ever seen Ghostbusters? That movie is full of great comedians. Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Rick Moranis...the list goes on. But in the movie, none of their characters exists in a vacuum. They're funniest when they interact with each other. By interacting with your friends, by accepting the gifts of their jokes, you will find that your own jokes will actually get funnier.

3. Make fun of the right people- Last tip, broletariat- make fun of the right people for the right reasons. When you make fun of minorities, or the poor, or any other group of people who isn't really in power, and is possibly persecuted, it's really not that funny. Comedy works best when it's used to make intelligent comments about society and human nature. Comedy is at it's worst when people make jokes about the mentally handicapped. Making fun of people in power, like politicians, millionaires, or actors is totally fair game because comedy is a great tool to make comments on injustices committed by those people against their fellow humans. But making fun of someone who doesn't have power doesn't really work. Plus, it just isn't very nice to use comedy as a tool of oppression.

That's it bro, that's what I've got. I hope it's useful to you. As an improv coach/teacher, I will say that I do ascribe to the "spoonful of sugar" to make the medicine go down approach. So here's the sugar for the medicine- you have an infectious personality, and natural stage presence. You sell everything you do all the way, and honestly that's about 75 percent of being successful in comedy. You're almost on your way to being a truly great funny friend. I know it will probably take awhile to really get these things down. If you find you are having trouble, I can recommend some improv theaters with great classes to help you along.


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