Backhanded Compliments!

Politeness is important. Here are my favorite polite comments to offer, especially to stand-up comedians.

“You looked like you had a lot of fun up there!”

“Wow, you’re really committed to that material!”

“You’ve got…a lot of energy.”

“I don’t care how many times I hear ’em, I love those jokes!”

“You got more laughs than it sounded like.”

“That’s right, screw ’em! You keep doing what YOU think is funny.”

“You’re so brave to get up and do that!”

“You…and I mean this…you do more with less than anyone in this scene!”

“I sure admire your persistence! Keep it up!

The Rich Life In Recession

Photo by Artikip

I know that there are troubles in the world. However, the recession is the time for comics to shine! We have not received an increase in pay since 1991, so we’re skilled in every day ways to make money, like reusing tea-bags and road ass. I sure hope I can find some acid-washed jeans with my early nineties money! The economy has gotten so bad that I’m upper-class now, and I can prove it. I can offer three forms of classy identification, including my Platinum Subway punch card, for which I might acquire a FREE fancy sandwich after purchasing eight of the selfsame sandwiches, a Costco card bearing a golden star that indicates that I might go and make bulk goods purchases at any time after 11AM, when the platinum star people have stopped stinking up the place with their rich perfumes and Corinthian leather smells, and also a card which affords me access to more world-class literature and media than one could consume in a lifetime, which says Multnomah County Library upon it, with my name, emblazoned in richest ebony ink. I must go and polish my solid gold boot-buttons now.

How To Comedy

Well, I’m about to be three years old- This May 25th is my third anniversary in stand-up. That’s not much in the world of comedy, but it’s as much as I’ve ever done. It has gotten me many things, such as being recognized at Montage and at Chaos Cafe. I was having a few sincere thoughts about it, and would like to offer you, dear reader, some completely unsolicited advice.
When I was new, I got laughs by accident. I got superstitious about it. The first time I had a good set at an open mike, I never wanted to go back and “ruin” it. A lot of new comics dwell on and overanalyze their first set, their second set, and it doesn’t really matter. They say, I bombed, or I killed, and neither one is true. You’re not good enough to bomb. You got lucky.

The first time a person gets up to do stand-up, it might be interesting, it might be funny, it might be good writing- but it won’t be great stand-up. There are too many microskills that need to be formed. You just have to do it again and again. The good news is that taking a microphone out of a stand 100 times makes you pretty slick at it.

Truly bombing is a gift- if you can survive a room hating you thoroughly, then you know that nothing can be worse than that, and you can get past it.
Where I am now: I can get laughs pretty consistently. It’s still like a magic trick, I don’t know quite how it’s done but I can do it.

Here is some of the best of the many pieces of advice that more skilled comics have given to me:
Don’t disengage between jokes, keep eye contact with the audience.
The longer the setup, the bigger the laugh needs to be at the punch.
Write a hundred jokes on a premise and cut down to what works.
Try to match the crowd’s energy. Don’t scream at a mellow room, or whisper to an excited, party room.
And my advice is: The first mistake every comic makes is: Talking too fast. Slow down.
The second mistake is different for everyone. You’ll figure it out.

Party at Ground Zero!

I don’t know how many of my readers are from Medford, Oregon, but I’m headed out for what promises to be a stupendous road gig with headliner Keith Wallan tomorrow night, Friday, October 5th, at club Ground Zero!

Keith Wallan works in wordplay, observational humor and cussing. He’s the last bastion of sanity in a world gone insane.

Virginia Jones has never been to Medford. She’s funnier than Bill Hicks, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner put together. In fact, she’s funnier than all dead people./divdivThey are both left-handed Capricorns and they’re the same height. This is a love note to everyone in Jackson County- come out and see us tomorrow!/divdivGround Zero*123 S Front St* Medford, OR*(541) 779-4827

Postscript: I am distressed at Ground Zero’s lack of web presence, but I found a clipping from the MailTribune for this night, and it really says it all!

“Comedians Keith Wallen(sic) and Virginia Jones will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, at Ground Zero, 123 S. Front St. Admission to the show costs $5 and includes a buffet-style dinner.”

This was my first road gig ever, and it went so badly that I opened on a story about it for approximately 9 years.

Gus Van Can’t Stand Open Mike Comedy!

When I got to the Boiler Room for five minutes of open mike time, I sat down at a table with two other gentlemen.  One of them was kind of familiar. I assumed it was someone I had seen do stand-up.   He was drinking a three-olive Martini, which I thought was a little Pearl District for Old Town.   I was sitting with Oscar winner Gus Van Sant, his suitcases, and his PA.  He was talking moviemaking with his compatriot.

I was excited that the man behind a Drugstore Cowboy might see my five minutes of stand-up. Maybe he’d be impressed by a joke I was telling in German.  Maybe he’d write a fantasy biography of my life, casting Nick Cave as my husband, and change my life forever.

When our long-suffering emcee Kevin Michael-Moore launched into a version of The Girl From Ipanema where said girl is legally blind, my new famous friend found his legs and left, his companion carrying his bags.

It was clear after his departure that every other comic had also noticed who it was, and had prepared a joke for him. Instead, we just told them to each other, like usual.