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Showing posts from January, 2016

Premise writing for Comedy

A premise is a unique opinion about a topic that is authentic, original and relatable. All standup comedy jokes are built on good premises. Yes, there's other ways of being "funny" and making people "laugh" without good premises but essentially, standup comedy is built around using the vehicle of "humor" to deliver your unique point of view, or Premises to the audience. Gimmicks, funny noises, De Niro impressions can only take you so far. You hook with a premise, then you act-out that premise and tell stories about that premise to make it come alive. And that's how you have a conversation with the audience. I believe this, we share this, do you believe so too?

After awhile, you realize that you should just "stop" being funny or "think funny" when you are trying to come up with good premises. You need to be totally unfunny and just observe life and how people think and act. And you sit down and write these down and try to verbali…

Importance of Point of View in Standup Comedy

I've slowly realized recently why the Pros in standup comedy are always talking about point of view. If you've ever watched Last Comic Standing, you often saw judges like Wayans, Barr and McDonald talk about things like "oh that guy had such a unique POV. You have an interesting POV". A lot of books talk about this too.

I think that's a very interesting thing.
We want to hear from people who share similar emotions as we do ... who can talk about things that are relate-able and something we can share. And yet, we also want a UNIQUE point of view. A different way, a fresh take on the world, and the things we observe.

That's a very interesting dichotomy. You want to show that you guys are all One. That we are all similar and we share things together. But you also want to give them a fresh filter of looking at the world. A new angle. Your own mind.

Your Topic Selection.
Your Point of View.
Becomes extremely important then.
You want to be relate-able and yet you don'…

Phases of honing your material for standup

There's different ways that NYC comics approach standup comedy, I've noticed.

Most of the time, it's generally agreed that if you go out and perform at open mics/shows 3-4 times a day, you are going to grow like a maniac in about 2-3 years. And we've actually all seen our peers do this and get mad good and get booked and whatnot. At first glance, there seems to be no fancy secret, other than self-discipline, and fighting with yourself. Like any other craft.

But I also think there's necessity for balance. If you spend all your time performing, you are not spending enough time sitting down and writing & refining.

I'm beginning to form my comedy career strategy based on a balanced combination between writing new material, performing new material as well as honing that new material and refining old material

Phase 1 Writing new materialTurning raw ideas into prototypes that can be tested out in open mic
They are like Alpha versions that need audience feedback
Phase 2 …

You are not just You, I'm not Just Me

Throughout our lives, we have people who touch us, who move us, who have changed us for the better.

Those were the people who connected you to the beauties of life, wisdom of life, gave you love whether you deserved it or not, made you believe that God exists.

I am not made up of just me. If I had been all by myself, I would not be where I am today. I am not just made up of the blood from my parents, but also from every single human being who helped me grow and advance. Asian, white, black, Latino, race, age, background, it didn't matter.

Those are the people I will thank and give tribute to for the rest of my life. And we are all connected in that way.

Being "self-ish" ... Thinking that the SELF is everything ... is not the answer. The Universe is made up of more than just one. It is all one, but it is also many. You have to be comfortable not being like everybody else, but you also have to be comfortable not being just bundled up in you.

All the people who have touched me a…

Laying a perfect brick today

Will Smith had a popular interview where he said a great successful life is not about coming up with something extraordinary today and becoming an overnight success. Rarely, does life work like that.

Instead, think of it like building the Great Wall. The Great Wall was not built in a day. You take everyday as a new day with fresh energy and vigor. And you take one brick, and lay it as perfectly as a brick can be laid. And when you spend enough days, months, years, then the Great Wall is built over time.

It is really true. When it comes to standup comedy, especially.

Over trial and error and through precious learnings from literature and mentors, I've realized that your standup material cannot grow fast. In fact, it's a very slow, painstaking process where you MUST stick with your old, proven material every time you perform (maybe 80% of your performance) and then squeeze in new things you want to try into the middle of your performance.

If you do not do this and keep switching aro…

Natural Unnaturalness and Unnatural Naturalness in Comedy

I am so thankful that I am back doing standup comedy after about 1.5 year of hiatus between early 2014 to late 2015 (due to my dayjob change into programming). Considering this hiatus, my total experience doing comedy is really about 2 years still total between mid 2012 to early 2014 + the shows I've done lately. I am at around show #150.

I still have a long way to go. I've heard 4 years of steady experience is the norm to breaking out. But I' m excited. And this time, I'm not going to fucking stop. I finally realize that this is the way that God has destined for me. There's no more questions about it.

I remembered Bruce Lee's quote a long time ago that his martial arts was like unnatural naturalness and natural unnaturalness. What he was talking about was a balance between yin and yang, being comfortable with balance. It was a profound philosophy that made sense in martial arts ... and also something I'm finding in performing comedy on stage.

In Jeet Kun Do, …