Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How to cure stage fright

Silence. Fear. Apprehension.

These are the worst qualities a comedian can display when on stage.

Lacking confidence and forgetting the basic elements of what makes a comedian successful can be detrimental to a performance.

Audiences will see right through a weak act. The comic-in-question will never get the deserved laughs he or she deserves because of insecurities plaguing one's performance.

The No. 1 principle a comedian must embody is believing their jokes are funny. According to Steve Sabo, owner of Inside Joke Productions, a joke is good as long as you think it is. It's just a matter of telling and delivering the joke in a certain way.

This is where the confidence needs to kick in.

To remedy stage fright, here are exerts from Steve Roye's article "Becoming a Comedian: Overcoming Stage Fright" written for Article Alley. These article could come in handy for an upcoming amateur contest.

1. Own the stage

"As soon as I am introduced, the stage is mine. The building is mine. The entire property is MINE until I relinquish the microphone. The seats that the audience is sitting in are mine."

2. Take your time

"Speak at your natural speech rate. The more the audience sees that you are at your leisure, the more comfortable they will be and the more confident you will appear."

3. Be prepared

"Rehearsal can only boost your confidence. And confidence is a critical factor in overcoming stage fright."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Amateur comics to compete for cash at Grumpy Dave's Pub

Aspiring comedians will have the chance to be treated like professionals for one night.

Inside Joke Productions will host the Best in the Midwest Amateur Comedy Competition at Grumpy Dave's Pub on April 23. The event begins at 9:30 p.m. with the comedians expected to hit the stage shortly thereafter.

The contest is open to any amateur including University students, said Tim Hoyt, operation and acquisition manager of Inside Joke Productions; however all spots are booked as of March 25.

Amateurs wishing to compete can contact Inside Joke Productions ( for more information.

An amateur is considered someone who hasn't received money more than five times for comedy sets in the past, according to Hoyt.

Hoyt, who will be one of the 15 competitors and hopes to be a professional comedian, said money is not important to him. All that matters to Hoyt is supplying laughter while entertaining audiences during a set.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity," Hoyt said. "My whole goal [in comedy] is making people laugh and wanting people to have fun."

To avoid a conflict of interest, Hoyt said he will not be affiliated with Inside Joke Productions for the event. He will solely be a competing comedian on April 23.

The winner of the contest will receive $100 in cash. Second and third places will receive $40 and $20 gift certificates to Grumpy Dave's Pub located above Easy Street Café at 104 S. Main St.

A fee of $5 is required for all entrants.

Steve Sabo, owner of Inside Joke Productions, said the competition will give nonprofessional comedians the prospect to test their comical skills in front of a live audience.

"It's an opportunity for somebody that hasn't done comedy before, [or] has only done comedy a couple of times, to actually get some stage time," Sabo said.

The winner will be decided by a panel of three judges, one of which will be a random audience member. Grumpy Dave will be the tie-breaking vote if necessary.

Sabo said the winner will not be guaranteed a comedy deal or future shows. Yet, that night's comedy champ will be awarded professional advice, such as writing jokes and presenting material, in hopes to get sets in the future.

Hoyt is looking forward to next month's event. Even though he will be facing tough competition, Hoyt is excited people care about comedy in the area.

"It shows comedy is still growing and it's alive and well in the Bowling Green/Toledo area."

As a professional comic, Sabo knows what makes or breaks a comic on stage. Here are some tips he offers to help aspiring comedians for the competition.
* Prepare: Make sure you've done your stuff over and over and over again so you know it. Once the light hits you, it's a whole different world.
*Don't second guess yourself: If you think the material is funny, it probably is.
*Don't freeze or panic: If the audience doesn't like the first joke, go on to the next one.
*Make eye contact
* Don't take it too seriously: It's fun

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Related links to help amateur comedians:
Standup 411
Joke Starter

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Comedians take painful stabs at health care bill

Health care is a big deal -- even to comedians.

After the House of Representatives narrowly passed a resolution (219-212 Sunday) supported by President Barack Obama, health care reform took the important first step of being implemented into the lives of Americans.

The new law, signed by Obama on Tuesday, will be "a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system," according to the New York Times.

Obama then signed into law "a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system" on Tuesday.

What health care means to the future of America

Yet celebrity comedians and late-night show hosts are remedying their cures on what they want in their health-care packages.

Here are some views on health care comedians are prescribing to their audiences. Information compiled by Daniel Kurtzman of

"If conservatives get to call universal healthcare 'socialized medicine,' I get to call private, for-profit healthcare 'soulless, vampire bastards making money off human pain.'" --Bill Maher

"President Obama is turning up the pressure on Congress to pass this health care reform. In fact, he's telling Democrats, if they don't vote for this bill, he will go out and campaign for them in November." -Jay Leno

"It looks like Democrats have their 60 votes for healthcare. Harry Reid said the bill will save us hundreds of millions of dollars. Well, it would have, except for the hundreds of millions of dollars we had to pay to buy the 60 votes." –Jay Leno

"President Obama says that Congress is very close to getting a new health care plan, but due to compromises, it 'won't include everything that everybody wants.' For instance, it covers everything except trips to the doctor or the hospital." –Conan O'Brien

"Well, here's some news. President Obama's healthcare plan passed the Senate Finance Committee this afternoon. Republicans are disappointed because they had their own version of the health plan. That was going to be swine flu masks and Purell." --David Letterman

Got a good joke on health care? Let's hear it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The dirtiest joke ever?

"The Aristocrats" joke is one of the oldest, crudest and most popular jokes throughout the history of comedy.

Comedian Steven Wright said once a stand-up comedian successfully performs the joke, it's as if they have garnered acceptance into the laughable world of comedy.

The joke is awesome because it's not absolute -- it can be told an infinite amount of ways.

The length of the joke can be seconds, minutes or hours long.

Details can be interchanged from comedian to comedian.

The delivery can be loud, soft, deliberate or to the point. The story is up to the comedian.

But there are some constants the joke needs in order to be worthy. The three elements the joke needs are:

1. The setup
The joke always includes a family meeting some sort of entrepreneur or agent in hopes to perform a skill. The family takes part in an act. The most popular one comes from the movie when the family gets involved in a circus routine.

2. The act
This is where the gloves come off. In describing the actions, comedians use gory, bloody, volatile descriptions to get the point across. The family usually performs incest as many sexual acts are performed within the family.

3. The punchline
The punchline always ask with the agent or manager asking the family, "what do you call yourselves?"

The family then replies by emphatically stating, "The Aristocrats!" It makes fun of the social, well-to-do social class by saying the wealthiest of all people are the dirtiest.

Below are two of the funniest clips from the 2005 film, "The Aristocrats" featuring Gilbert Gottfried and Bob Saget:

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The funniest fathers in sitcom

Fathers can provide some of the best funnies on television.

In the real world, fathers are strict, stern guardians. The typical dad wants his son to succeed in sports and his daughter to avoid boys.

And while fatherly values are prevalent throughout many sitcoms -- both past and present -- the dominant males also have an innocence about them. TV dads are the funniest when they are sincere, honest and display a boy-like attitude in all facets of adulthood. Most of the time, these notations show stupidity, but capitalize on humor.

Phil Dunphy of ABC's Modern Family is the funniest father on television today.

He is hilarious because he resembles a father of a modern family: trying to stay hip with his children, impressing his wife at all costs and not thinking about the repercussions of his actions.

Full episodes of Modern Family can be watched at

Who are your favorite funny fathers? Do you agree with this list? Let your voice be heard in the comment section.

Here are some of my other favorite TV dads:

Homer Simpson ("The Simpsons")

Bill Cosby ("The Cosby Show")

Frank Costanza ("Seinfeld")

Martin Crane ("Frasier")

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

NWOH-it-all: Steve Brewer

Steve Brewer is no stranger to comedy.

Performing in hundreds of venues for nearly a quarter-century, Brewer doesn't treat any performance different from one another. He said he treat each one as if it's the most important show.

Before his Tuesday show at Grumpy Dave's Pub, Brewer chatted with Northwest Ohio Comedy via phone interview.

Brewer shares how he got his start, his opinion on comedy in smaller venues and where he enjoys going when in Bowling Green.

Hometown: Detroit

Age: 39

Years Professional: 23

Approximate number of shows performed yearly: 150 to 200.

Comedic Influences/Inspirations: George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce.

You might know Brewer from: Filth Fest:
an unrestricted, uncensored three-man comedy tour specializing in dirty jokes.

Fun fact:
"Guilty pleasure" is riding and refurbishing motorcycles.

Q: When did you first want to be a comedian?
SB: I knew it started in kindergarten when I was required by the teacher to draw what I wanted to be when I grew up. I drew a stand-up comedian standing up on stage telling jokes, saying 'ha-ha.'

Q: How did you get your professional start?
SB: By the time I was 15, I had written my first five minutes of material. I stole a buddy's ID - the guy I worked for at Domino's [Pizza] - so I got into the club. I was hooked. From that point on, I did everything I could to get on stage.

Q: How would you describe your style of comedy?
SB: It's definitely controversial, political, truthful. If nothing else, my show is truthful. When I write, I take an intelligent idea and I try to turn it into a dick joke. I try to make my shows where the doctor goes 'wow this guy is really smart. He took this really great idea and disguising it so that guy can enjoy it.' And I want to guy who doesn't know any better to be able to go, 'ha, he said f***.' I want it to be enjoyable for everyone.

Q: What are the benefits to performing at smaller venues compared to a grander stage?SB: I really, really believe that it's more important to go and do these small shows than it is to do the big shows because these are the people who come out and they might be spending maybe $50 for the night. But that might be their entertainment budget for the entire month. I feel the responsibility of the headliner to go in and to really give them their money's worth and then some.

Q: What does the true value of comedy mean to you?SB: [Comedians] are in a business that is so focused on success that we forget what it is we are actually doing. If we only do this to be on TV, if we only do this to make a huge paycheck, then what is the value?

I started doing this because for that 45 minutes to an hour, [when] I'm on stage, I can make people forget how s***** their life is for that week. I'm actually doing something that's making peoples' lives better. That's where I get my pleasure. 

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring comedians?SB: The first thing I tell them is don't. The reason I tell them don't is because it's so hard. It was hard when I was coming up, but now it's just unbelievably difficult and competitive and hard to make a living at.

Really though the best way to do it is to get on stage. There is no secret to it. Perform as much as you possibly can. Do everything you can to get on stage as often as you can. Write, write, write and write. Don't write about the [material] everyone else is writing about. Stay away from whatever seems easy.

Q: What do you enjoy about Bowling Green?
SB: I like Main Street. I like the sense in that kind of two-mile radius from Grumpy Dave's [Pub], it's like a really cool mix of old and new. Its got that kind of sense of community and its also got that we can party deal. And the Pita Pit. Christ that place is awesome. After throwing down a bunch of beers, there is nothing better than Pita Pit.

Q: Why should people come see you Tuesday?
SB: I give the best damn show you will ever see. I give them the same show I would give if I were filming a special or if I were performing for the f****** queen. I give them everything I got, no matter how I feel.

NWOH-it-all: Rye Silverman

Columbus native Rye Silverman will be the feature act Tuesday night at Grumpy Dave's Pub.

Silverman, a nine-year professional comedian, gave some personal insight to a comedian's life in an exclusive phone interview with Northwest Ohio Comedy.

Silverman will be the feature act Tuesday night during comedy night at Grumpy Dave's Pub. He will be opening for headliner Steve Brewer.

The Ohio State University graduate said he's gained passion for comedy over the past decade.

Below are some fun facts, advice and what Silverman plans to do with himself in the near future.

Hometown: Columbus

Age: 28

Years professional: Nine

Approximate number of shows performed yearly: 200

Comedic Inspirations/Influences: Steve Martin, Dana Carvey, David Spade, Mitch Hedberg

You might know Silverman from: Previously performing at Grumpy Dave's Pub. He visits the club twice a year.

Fun Fact: Usually doesn't eat right before a show.

Q: When did you first want to be a comedian?
RS: I've always wanted to do it since I was a kid. I was a giant fan of comedians when I was younger. I really fell in love with it.

Q: How did you get your professional start?
RS: When I was a freshman in college I saw an ad for a local open mike at the Columbus Funny Bone. And I just was like, 'if I don't do this now, I'm never going to do it.' So I made myself go out and do the open mike.

Q: How would you describe your style of comedy?
RS: I'm somebody who's not afraid to take chances. What I do in my act is very personal. It's a lot of stuff from my own life. I embrace my peculiarities and talk about them on-stage, so my act runs the gauntlet of talking about things like having to move back in with my parents to pay off debt, geekiness and even cross-dressing.

Q: As a comedian, what must you do to remain successful?
RS: I think just continuing to hone a quality act. I've gotten to a point in my life where I'm not so concerned about the financial gains from comedy. Thinking how rich you want to be is a mistake. I think you have to do it for pure love of comedy. The more that I make my act into something that I love and the more I am happy with my act , the more I feel like everything will click into place behind it.

Q: How do you stay motivated performing night in and night out?
RS: I'm always fine-tuning and shaping my act into something different. Even if I'm telling the same jokes, I find nuances to them or changes to them or new ways to deliver them. It's almost this rise to constantly be getting better and then the thrill of being on stage. I just love doing comedy I love everything about comedy. It's like a compulsion almost.

Q: Where are some of the places you enjoy visiting when you come to Bowling Green?
RS: Finders Records and Grounds for Thought.

Q: Any big plans in the near future?

RS: I plan on moving to [Los Angeles] to kick my game into the next level. The reason why I'm going to L.A. is because I want to study comedy in a bigger venue and also take classes and hone my craft. It is an art form, in my opinion and I want to take advantage to strengthen my art.

Slideshow from March 2 comedy night at Grumpy Dave's Pub

Click on photos for captions and descriptions from the night's festivities.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Comedian uses awkward silences to impress crowd at Grumpy Dave's Pub

Silence is often considered the muted killer in comedy. When audiences aren't laughing, a comedian's act is usually dying.

Yet professional comedian Kris Shaw thrives off awkward pauses and idle reactions from crowds. He understands and has perfected the art of comedic timing.

"He's got spaces where he uses silence in his act and it actually works in his favor," said Steve Sabo, founder of Inside Jokes Productions and friend to Shaw. "He's got a special quality. He's got an energy, a presence that draws you in."

Shaw headlined the multi-comic show Tuesday night at Grumpy Dave's Pub. Shaw, who performs about 40 shows a month, said his joy for comedy has grown exponentially since his comedy career started seven years ago.

"It's more fun than what it was before," the 36-year-old said. "I like to keep connections with younger crowds and younger audiences and comedians."

Shaw uses life experiences and memorable misfortunes to compliment his raunchy and off-color jokes.

Shaw, who has four daughters and one son, said his house is just like "The Cosby Show" sans the multi-million dollar endorsements. Shaw asked the audience to pray for him as he is in "negotiations" with Telemundo to set up cameras in his house.

All kidding aside, Shaw values the benefits family provides, especially when he is consistently touring away from his home.

"[Family] keeps me balanced. When I go home, I try to make sure my family is my first commitment and then afterwards I go back to jokes," he said.

Veteran Grumpy Davers were impressed and entertained after Shaw's hour long-set.

"I really liked him. He had a different perspective of comedy. He was a really good comedian for Grumpy Dave's," said senior Drew Barnes who has been to comedy night about 25 times before.

Tim Hoyt, marketing manager of Inside Joke Productions, said Shaw's performance "stacked up really well" compared to other comics the company schedules to perform at Grumpy Dave's Pub.

Shaw always has a good time in Bowling Green. Whether it's following the last few people out of the comedy club and into the bars or winding up at Bob Evans before leaving Northwest Ohio, Shaw said he'll keep performing where he's wanted.

"As long as people are coming to support [me], it means they are having fun and enjoyment. When the place is empty, that's when there is a problem."

Blogger's Note: This story was originally published in Friday's online version of The BG News.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Seinfeld Breaks the Bank Yet Again

It's safe to say the majority of comics performing in Northwest Ohio aren't rich.

But most of them are OK with that.

Northwest Ohio-based comedians are entertainers because they truly love comedy.

They don't get on stage purely for money. Venues such as Grumpy Dave's Pub, Connxtions and Fat Fish Blue don't have the capabilities or resources to bring in A-list comedians.

In exchange for money, these venues offer a stage and a headlining vacany local comedians can take advantage of. If the joke is funny, people will still laugh no matter whose mouth it comes out of.

Nevertheless, comedy is a multi-billion dollar industry.

I was stunned to find out 2009's top-earning comedian after listening to a KISS FM radio telecast on Tuesday.

It was none other than Jerry Seinfeld.

Shut up.

No Elaine. You shut up.

Seinfeld raked in $85 million in 2009, according to a Forbes Celebrity Valuation study.

This is impressive, considering Seinfeld has few credits to his name since his mega-popular, self-titled sitcom ended 12 years ago.

Celebrity comedians/actors earn the bulk of their income through syndication (i.e. re-runs) and DVD Sales. Seinfeld also earns millions of dollars because he co-created, produced and wrote episodes for his self-titled sitcom.

Seinfeld has consistently been comedy's top earner each year since his show was in its prime during the mid 1990s.

How rich is Jerry? Well, by my estimations, he could pick up Cosmo Kramer's lunch bill everyday for the next 40 years while leaving a 15 percent tip -- all while still living the luxurious life.

It's safe to say Seinfeld will never have to pick up another script or tell a Superman joke for the rest of his life. He is financially set.

Combined, the top-10 comedic earners of 2009 earned $256 million from June 1, 2008 through June 1, 2009

Here is a breakdown of all other comedians --none of which scheduled to perform at any northwest Ohio venue anytime soon -- that topped Forbes' list:

2.Chris Rock ($42 million)
3.Jeff Dunham ($30 million)
4. Dane Cook ($20 million)
4. George Lopez ($20 million)
6. Howie Mandel ($15 million)
7.Larry the Cable Guy ($13 million)
8.Jeff Foxworthy ($11 million)
9.Terry Fator ($10 million)
9. Russell Peters ($10 million)

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