Saturday, July 1, 2017

Stand Up Comedy Takes Practice to Perfect - Seriously.

The other night I was watching an interview with the actor/comedian Aziz Anzari with Charlie Rose.  He has a new series out with Netflix called "Master of None" and is the main star of the program.  During the interview Charlie Rose asked him about his stand up comedy routine.  Specifically, if he had been performing any stand up comedy during shooting the series.  He responded to my surprise with the simple answer "no, not during filming".  He went onto explain that he throws himself into whatever project 100% while involved and cannot split his time -- interesting.  Why?

I would have thought that a comedian can just jump back into his comedy act on point.  No so - as it turns out.   In order to prepare for the 9 minute monologue on Saturday Night Live shown below, he had to prepare for over a month:

In the interview mentioned above with Charlie Rose, the comedian Aziz Ansari stated that to prepare for the 9 minute monologue shown above, the process took his concentration each day for nearly a month.  He had to attend various comedy clubs and try out certain jokes (after writing them) in front of an audience.  He stated that he needed to "get used to being in front of an audience" again while telling a joke.  The process was iterative: he would write, then go to try to joke out on stage, judge the reaction, and go back to re-writing the joke.  All this for a MONTH.  Just to get ready for 9 minutes on film on stage at a studio in New York for Saturday Night Live.

One of the largest myths is that the talent we see on the screen (television, iPad, Kindle, iPhone, Smart devices) is "natural" or "comes easy" to the performers.  We neglect to see that there are hundreds -- sometimes thousands of hours of practicing before a given performance.  Additionally, the agreements that are reached between the performers and the networks (or studios) are confidential too.

Meaning, any contractual agreement to "look" or "sound" a certain way is cemented in the agreement too.  That might entail regimented exercising, or dieting which follows an agreed upon plan written into the contract.  Basically, there is a large amount of "invisible" stress that the public assumes comes from within the actors or performers mind.  Not so.

An example that I commonly refer to is that of the actor Hugh Jackman in preparation for his role in "Wolverine".  The studio required him to ride his bicycle to all of his errands and appointments.  Los Angeles sits on a hill (not as steep as San Francisco) which is not flat.  In addition to riding his bicycle around town, he also was required to do yoga and various gym exercising.


Too often people walk around believing that various professions take little effort to achieve notoriety.  Hollywood is probably the largest offender of this magic trick.  In fact, the amount of preparation each performer needs to do to prepare is staggering when considering all of the daily regimens required leading up to a performance.  Although, the money is good.  Not all actors get paid exorbitant amounts of money -- another myth.

Anything worth doing takes effort.  Most people put in more effort than they are willing to admit to in achieving notoriety in a given field.  If you work hard, the possibility of achieving high in a given field is more probable.  The fact of the matter is that a person should work hard because they enjoy their profession.  If you enjoy what you do for a job, the effort can often appear "effortless" -- a magic performance.  The next time that you watch a show, consider the amount of time each actor must prepare for their role.

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