I learned a valuable lesson last week. I do not enjoy ‘officially’ judging my fellow comedians.
The School of Mines apparently doesn’t admit girls. Or, maybe the girls were all off studying, because I was asked to be the female judge for their monthly comedy competition, Ten Local Comics. I’m not sure why the ladies aren’t flooding into The Blue Canyon Underground. It’s full of soon-to-be-rich manly men that are almost all single. I’m headed back there in a couple of weeks for sure… to compete.
There were nine comedians, all of whom I know pretty well, have seen regularly, and think are all (mostly) great people. I promised to be impartial and willingly accepted the offer for free drinks.
There were three categories (I hope I’m not giving away any industry secrets.):
- Stage Presence
- Crowd Response
The paper was blank other than allotted points in each category and a space to write the comedian’s name. It lacked descriptions of what exactly we were looking for, and had an allotted amount points next to each category. My mind was racing. Are these T-Scores? Do we start in the middle? What does ‘Material’ mean? Originality? Is the crowd supposed to respond somehow? I was planning on copying the other judge’s answers, but they kept covering them up. Nerds.
So, I winged it.
The first three comedians were staring at an unresponsive crowd and using a faulty mic. At some point the technical problems were fixed. Then came Rick Bryan, who killed it, and brought the audience to life. Vinnie Montez, Chad Neidt and Kyle Bufkin all came up, and killed it… and then the crowd no longer gave a shit, and the last two comedians bombed.
And I judged.
When we pulled all of the papers together to tally the scores, it appeared that I was the most unforgiving of the judges and gave a majority of the low scores. I didn’t realize that the comedians get copies of judge’s tallies…
Kyle Bufkin won the $100. He did a great job, and certainly deserved the prize. Rick Bryan won ‘Crowd Favorite’.
Afterwards, some of the guys were pretty down about the judge’s perception of them (my perception of them). The reality of it is that it didn’t matter. Yeah, some of their material needs a lot of work (as does mine), but that’s part of the game. If you aren’t willing to accept feedback and know what to do with it, then you’re act probably isn’t going to improve. Critiquing is vital growth in all aspects of art. So, let’s cut the bullshit and be honest with each other.
If a crowd is silent, they don’t think you’re funny (I have certainly experienced this). But, someone else might. So I guess we just keep writing, and know that the individuals in the audience might be having a bad day, or a great day, or just broke up with a lover, or maybe got a raise. But, in the end they’re usually there to laugh, even if they’re a judge.
I’d rather be competing.