Comedians need not always be on


This year Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival is taking place under very different circumstances due to the COVID19 pandemic. No live audiences, everything online. Regardless, they are pushing ahead with a scaled-down schedule, including live shows from other cities. This festival has become an annual convention for comedy specialists. Anyone who is anyone in the business meets up here to see what’s new, and what can be done. Deals are made. contracts are signed. It is not just a funny event, it is a very important one.

However, even those who fall flat still get my respect as I cannot imagine many things scarier than standing in front of a room filled with people and trying to make them laugh.

For as long as I can recall, I have loved stand-up comedians. But only good stand-up comics of course. Watching a bad comic – not just one having a bad night, that sort of thing happens – is a combination of horror and embarrassment. However, even those who fall flat still get my respect as I cannot imagine many things scarier than standing in front of a room filled with people and trying to make them laugh.

That having been said, many comics do something that annoys me. When they are being interviewed about an upcoming show, as is almost a daily occurrence currently, or any other topic related to their career, they seem to feel that they have to perform. Just answer the questions and don’t try so hard to be funny.

It brings to mind the silly reaction may people have upon being introduced to an Irish person. For some reason when people hear an Irish accent (and I do not speak from experience) they seem to think it is alright to make a silly attempt at mimicking the accent with noises such as Ah-ta-ta-ta. No other accent induces this asinine reaction, just Irish.

… they are being interviewed about an upcoming show, as is almost a daily occurrence currently, or any other topic related to their career, they seem to feel that they have to perform. Just answer the questions and don’t try so hard to be funny.

Years ago the benchmark for stand-up was The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Being booked on the Carson show was a door opener; doing well was a step up; but being asked by Johnny to come over and sit for a moment was the ultimate. If Carson liked you, you were on your way.

Veteran comics would appear on Carson, do their bit, then join Johnny and Ed. But they left the routine out on the stage. The interview may well have been hilarious, but if a comedian tried too hard it was just embarrassing. Fortunately, this did not happen very often.

The same is true for press photos. Just look at the camera, perhaps smile, perhaps not, but don’t do something idiotic in an attempt to be funny solely because you seem to think it is expected of you

If an actor is being interviewed they respond to questions, they don’t play roles, they don’t act. Why do comedians feel they must be ‘on’ all the time? Not only is it usually not funny, but it demeans the professionalism of the craft.

Monty Python

The same is true for press photos. Just look at the camera, perhaps smile, perhaps not, but don’t do something idiotic in an attempt to be funny solely because you seem to think it is expected of you. Believe me, you just look stupid. There was perhaps no zanier group of comedians than Monty Python. Yet even they understood that what is funny during a skit, comes across as moronic in a studio photo.

Now – go on out there and make ’em laugh!!

Published by DCMontreal

DCMontreal - Deegan Charles Stubbs - is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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