The other week I did a gig at Downstairs at the King’s Head on the Thursday night. This is one the best open mic nights in London that you can do, as it usually gets a good audience, and there is an opportunity to eventually progress to weekend gigs there. I had a fairly good gig and afterwards I asked for feedback from Peter who runs the night. He said that my joke writing is strong and has improved over the last few years, but that I need to sound less rehearsed. I asked whether I sound like that all the time (wondering whether even the newer material sounds like that) and he said yes – I have a certain rhythm to my voice when I’m on stage.
I’ve had this feedback several times and I know it’s something that I need to work on. When I gigged with Russell Kane a while ago he said the same thing – good material but I need to sound more natural. I then watched him do about half an hour (maybe longer) that he had done 100s of times, yet he made it look like so fresh and off the cuff. He suggested I MC more to improve on this, which I have been doing, but as I don’t tend to do much material when I am MCing, this doesn’t really affect how I sound when I do my actual jokes.You can hear the difference when I go into a pre-written joke. I also tend to inflect at the end of my sentences to the point where I have been asked if I am Australian.
I think my problem is that I have to learn my material so well otherwise I will forget it that I end up learning it too well. So what can I do about it? An acting teacher suggested that I try to tell my jokes to a friend like we are having a conversation, or to try and practice my set in different voices so I’m definitely going to try this out and see if it has any effect. My friend Alana (who is actually Australian) is staying with me at the moment so she is going to have to listen to this.
Does sounding too rehearsed matter? Anthony Jesilnik (one of my favourite comedians) has a very specific rhythm and tone when he does material, and he’s very successful. (Yes I just compared myself to Jesilnik, and what?) I guess it just depends what suits your act. But if sounding less rehearsed means that I have more of a connection to the audience and therefore have a better gig, and get booked for more gigs, then that can only be a good thing.
To be continued…