Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sad Comedy

On Friday night, we went to see one of the acts at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. It was one of the top 5 acts chosen by The Age.

What a disappointment.

We were ushered into a small room at the Melbourne Town Hall (there were small shows like this all over the building), and chose seats in the third row just in case the comedian chose to unleash her barbed wit on patrons up close. We needn't have worried.

The comedian did her best to make us laugh - and I did my best to find her material funny. Sometimes I forced a laugh in the hope that it would put me in the mood to laugh more, or it might encourage other members of the audience to think it was funnier than it actually was. Unfortunately, it only got worse, and the only thing that stopped us from walking out was sympathy. And knowing that the torture would only last an hour.

Poor comedian. She tried so hard to be funny, and she did possess some talent. Her acting skills were good enough that I could envisage her making people laugh in a sitcom or film. She was able to engage the audience with her facial expressions, gestures and even the characters she'd devised. It just wasn't very funny. When the lights faded between skits, there was silence, instead of raucous laughter and applause.

It made me think about writing. Sometimes you're almost there, but it just isn't working. And it's much harder than you think it's going to be when starting out. Most of all, it's hard to figure out what's NOT working, and how to fix it. It also made me think about the wider community of people who are putting themselves "out there". In comparison with the comedian's public shaming, writing something, sending it off and having it rejected seemed like small potatoes. I left feeling sad for her. I hope she doesn't take this setback too seriously, I hope she goes on trying to improve her skills, because there was good stuff there. It just wasn't quite working yet. Who knows, one day she may be as famous a comedian as Jerry Seinfeld. In a recent interview, he said that his first gig was so bad the only reason he attempted it again was to prove to himself that he could do it.


Tracey said...

Ooh, sounds awful. I'm like you -- trying to remain anonymous in the back row (whereas my kids are both pick-me-pick-me type of people), and then inwardly dying for someone who's not doing really well. A good comparison to writing -- both need courage, don't they?

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