Dubsism

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The “Force” of Stand-Up Comedy

darth vader stand up comedy

by J-Dub and Ryan Meehan

“Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” ―Obi-Wan Kenobi

If you are a fan of Star Wars, you know all about The Force. Without getting all movie-geekalicious, The Force was a metaphysical, spiritual, binding, omnipotent and ubiquitous power that held enormous importance for both good and evil. In the real world, one can use those same terms to describe comedy, especially when it comes to having a light and a dark side.  And much like The Force manifested itself in several aspects, comedy is also broken down into various disciplines.

Stand-up is clearly comedy’s most fascinating art form.  The power to make a room full of strangers is at the same time not quantifiable, yet palpable.  There are people who have spent a lifetime trying to master it; and there are those who became the true Jedi Knights of stand-up.

But on the other side, many of those who spend a lifetime trying to master comedy fail. The truth is stand-up comedy is a tough business.  A huge majority of comedians make very little money regardless of the fact that they are extremely skilled at their craft.  Hence they become practitioners of dark side of comedy; the Sith to oppose the Jedi if you will.  However, this isn’t just about good vs. evil. This is about which route gets you to the Holy Grail; that ability to make a room full of strangers laugh.  Hence the divide in the world of comedy, which is also the divide between Meehan and J-Dub on this piece.

See, Meehan discovered something called the “Clean Comedy Challenge” and he’s fascinated by it. At first, Meehan wanted to do this bit completely clean as a testimony that “clean” humor doesn’t have to suck.  However once J-Dub, the master of the dark side, got wind of that, the comedy light-saber battle was on. Just picture Meehan trying to pull off his best Dave “Uncle Joey from Full House” Coulier bit and over his shoulder, there’s J-Dub with a bottle of bourbon and the sage words that “clean comedy” is like “family-friendly porn.” Even if it could really be done, you’d be too creeped out to really enjoy it.

That’s why they decided to give you a breakdown as to what this really is all about. Meehan and J-Dub have done the digging to discover what this whole Clean Comedy Challenge is all about.  They’ve gone through this website line for line and have dissected what is really being sold here so that you can make an informed decision for yourself as to the good vs. evil of comedy.

The 2015 Clean Comedy Challenge!

Meehan:  Wow! This sounds great!  I love comedy and I have OCD so cleanliness is a huge plus.  I’m a fan of challenges, and respect the fact these people know what year it is!

J-Dub: <takes long pull of bourbon> Alright, let’s see if I get can through this without having a fucking stroke.

Clean comedy is an illusion; a fantasy if you will. Do you think there’s anything cleaner than “Leave it to Beaver?” Do you know how many dirty jokes are based on the quintessential” wholesome American sit-com.”

We can start with the fact the kid is named after his mother’s muff. It only goes from there. What is boils down to is “clean” comedy only sets the stage for the real stuff; the dark side. You see, If comedy were a steak house, “clean” humor would be that nine-dollar wedge salad. It isn’t what you wish it were, but you know it’s the only thing that will stop a T-Bone the size of a toilet seat from lodging more meat in your colon than the shower scene from “American History X.”

See, true comedy has shock value, and “clean” comedy delivers as much shock as a used 9-volt.

Awesome Celebrity Judges

Meehan:  Even better!  Let’s see who the judges are!

  • Leslie Norris Townsend
  • Jimmy Burns
  • Jerry Carroll
  • Dave Schwensen
  • Bill Gorgo
  • Joby Saad
  • John Branyan

Meehan:  Hmmm…that’s weird.  Almost all of these comics’ bios say that they are among the top working performers in the country.  Yet I interview just about every working road comedian you can think of and I’ve never heard of a single one of those comedians.  But we’ll give these people the benefit of the doubt because being a working comic is very hard work no matter what level you’re at or how much money you’re getting.

Not to mention, the Kardashians really have redefined the way we classify an individual as a celebrity in America.  That is fantastic news, because that means somewhere there’s a Jerry Carroll sex tape just waiting in the wings for us to review during one of our off days.

J-Dub: That thing about the Kardashians is abso-fucking-lutely true, and it also means we all get to spend the rest of our lives hearing about Bruce Jenner’s dick floating in a jar somewhere. Am I the only one convinced we’re going to see his/her junk for sale somewhere? If Michael Jackson could buy the bones of the “Elephant Man,” some freak somewhere will want to buy Jenner’s sac and schlong.

But the point here is who the fuck are these people? I’ll give you ten bucks for each one you can name without doing a web search. They probably are the same kind of people who hope they get picked for Jury Duty so they can scratch at least one week of their calendar.

What does the winner get? The title of 2015 Clean Comedy Challenge Winner and $300 cash.

Meehan:  Okay, so not a huge pile of scratch is at stake here.  It’s to be assumed from this prize that the entry fee for this competition is pretty low, as by comparison the Funniest Person in Grand Rapids (Michigan) payout is $1500, and the Dubuque (Iowa) 10K Comedy Challenge pays out $10,000.  And although comedy competitions are popping up all over the country, it certainly can’t hurt to win one of them.

I had a well-known comedian tell me one time that almost every comic’s resume is total bullshit, and if they show a fraction of a second of you performing during a montage during the season premiere of Last Comic Standing you’re likely going to put that in your bio.  Most bookers are aware of this, so a video clip is going to sell you more than a credit at a clean comedy competition.  But like I said, it certainly can’t do any serious damage as the ability to work clean does show you have a certain level of versatility.

J-Dub: Fuck that. You try telling the bank about your “versatility” when they are calling to discuss why your are two months behind on your mortgage. This is a multi-night event, and the cash prize won’t even cover your expenses unless you subsist on gas station hot dogs and stay at the YMCA.

Each night a “Nightly Audience Favorite” will be crowned.  This will be voted on by the audience in attendance and not the judges.  (This has no bearing on the final outcome, but it is a fun way to compete on individual nights if a previous night didn’t go so well for you!)

Meehan:  Please excuse me for breaking the theme of my advocating the “clean comedy” challenge, but this one has left me completely stumped.  The part about the audience favorite having “no bearing” on the final outcome of the competition is extremely puzzling, since both the judges and the audience are probably going to be watching the same show.

And while in a lot of these competitions the audience’s reaction isn’t always going to match whoever the judge thinks is the funniest, I would assume that pretty much everyone in a room who would enjoy the kind of comedy like this is going to have a similar response with regards to whether or not something is funny.  So, in most cases whoever the judges think is the funniest is likely who the audience favorite is going to be, which of course renders the whole “award” pointless.

J-Dub: What the fuck does it tell you about “clean” comedy that the guy who is defending it just butt-porked it harder than Bob Saget on an Olsen twin? That’s right, the “Full House” references just keep coming, if for no other reason than Saget himself became a comedy legend by faking us all out with that wholesome, family shit while making huge bank pumping out some of the smuttiest stuff in the history of stand-up.

How many sit-com dads also have a file full of "dick" jokes?

How many sit-com dads also have a file full of “dick” jokes?

Added:  There will also be a judges’ choice “New Comer” awarded to a deserving contestant.  So if you are a new comic thinking to yourself that you cannot win the overall competition against other comics, well now you can also compete for the “New Comer” award!

Meehan:  Forgive me for sounding so defeatist here, but I’d be willing to bet if the “audience favorite” award has no bearing on the final outcome of the competition then whoever wins the “newcomer” award probably won’t so much as walk out of here with a $1.29 bag of Ruffles.  This is just another example of something you can tell people you did, but have absolutely nothing to show for it in the meantime.

J-Dub: Meehan’s defense of “clean” comedy is right up there with the Polish Cavalry keeping the Nazis out of Warsaw in 1939. Not only is Bob Saget sodomizing both the Olsen twins here, he’s wiping his dick on their foreheads when he’s done. Let the hate flow through you…

What does everyone get?

-Awesome face to face time with working professionals in the comedy industry

Meehan:  This is a “zero” selling point.  Any of the “working professionals in the comedy industry” at the same level as the judges would be more than happy to speak with you after the show, at least they would be – that’s assuming that they’d even be booked in the first place.  That is highly unlikely, given that by that point the Jerry Carroll sex tape will have picked up a considerable amount of speed.

In summation, this is a meaningless “benefit” to try to get people to fork over the entry fee.  If your goal in life is to become a stand-up comedian, and you don’t have the seeds to simply go up and talk to one of them after their set…I hate to break this to you, but it’s not going to happen.  If you have to be properly introduced to someone who will in turn sell you on the idea that you can be a comic, you won’t become a comic.  But don’t worry, we’ve got plenty more reasons why the dream catcher tattooed behind your ear is really just a garbage disposal.

J-Dub: Why the fuck am I even here? Oh, that’s right, so I can continue to make disgusting “Full House” jokes. And I really don’t have anything on this segment, so just picture John Stamos getting oiled up and tossed in the shower of a Turkish prison.

– Seminars in comedy writing taught by amazingly talented comedy writers

– Other comedy industry relevant seminars taught by the Celebrity Judges

Meehan:  This sounds awfully vague.  You wouldn’t walk into an IHOP and say “I’ll have the whatever” and then shovel down whatever slop they scoop on to your plate, so you likely wouldn’t assume that the “other” seminars taught by the judges is going to be steak dinner quality stuff.  It’s probably just going to give you the verbal diarrhea you’d expect to contract at a clean comedy competition in Indiana.

fat people at IHOP

J-Dub: Obviously, it’s been a while since Meehan has been in an IHOP. It doesn’t matter what you name the slop in an IHOP, it’s all pretty generic and designed to pass in large quantities through the gullets of car-sized Midwesterners. When you think about it, that’s another perfect analogy for “clean” comedy; generic slop that is at the same time inoffensive and mildly comforting. And it’s all pretty soft, so it doesn’t hurt when you vomit it up later.

– Valuable stage time three nights in a row with professional critiques given privately to each contestant by comedy veterans

– Networking opportunities that would literally cost thousands of dollars if setup in Los Angeles or New York

– An experience that will forge life-long friendships with other comedians

Meehan:  Right, but this isn’t New York or Los Angeles.  It’s Anderson, Indiana, and that’s precisely why it’s less expensive than pretty much anyplace that isn’t Anderson, Indiana.  That’s only the first problem I have with this sentence. The biggest problem is it essentially suggests that these people are going to be your agents.  It’s a three- day contest, and when it’s over I highly doubt any of these individuals are going to help guide you through the early steps of your comedy career.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I can guarantee you that they aren’t going to be setting you up with any auditions.

J-Dub: This is the point where I officially tell you that “clean” comedy isn’t the problem; it’s this turd-pipe of an event. Am I the only one here who noticed how much shit they are trying to sell me here? I won’t even get into what they charge you to get into this train-wreck, but keep in mind the winner is walking away with three Franklins. That means they think there’s value in all this other shit. What’s more likely to happen is your new “agent” is likely to ask YOU if you know of any good gigs.

How much stage time does everyone really get?  The competition will be awesome each night.

Meehan:  The first statement is a bit deceiving, as it implies that you have already been given the amount of stage time, and have asked this question like they’ve lied to you.  The second statement is pretty hard to guarantee:  I mean, here you are in the middle of nowhere essentially discovering how a joke works with a bunch of other people sharing your same level of talent and it’s going to be awesome?  Each night?  That sounds like a pretty bulletproof set of odds from a bunch of people who probably think that Yakov Smirnoff is a great comedian.

J-Dub: Just the mention of the name “Yakov Smirnoff” makes my colon slam shut like a steel bear trap. This motherfucker took that whole “In Soviet Russia” bit to Branson and made enough with it to stay knee-deep in Russian hookers and vodka for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, genuinely funny people like Bill Hicks and Sam Kinison die early so the comedy world can be polluted with guys who really should have caught one in the back from an East German border guard.

We will never really know how many people died escaping Yaklov Smirnoff shows.

We will never really know how many people died escaping Yakov Smirnoff shows.

Just wait, it gets better…shit like this makes my blood pressure higher than Sepp Blatter’s blackmail payments.

Every night you will each get a short set in from live paying audiences that will each be judged and critiqued for you.  (Length of this set will be determined after all the registrations are in.)  Every night an audience vote will be taken to see who the individual night winner is.  Each individual night’s winner will receive recognition and a medal.  Then the competition will be narrowed down to the finalists (exact number subject to change) who will each get a chance to come back on stage for a longer set (8-10) minutes after the last night has finished.

In addition to the competition, there are open-mic nights every night for each contestant to participate in.  These will not be part of the competition but have proven to be some of the most fun things of the challenge experience.  Even comics who are registered for the conference/seminars only (auditors), and not in the main competition, can perform in the open mics.

Meehan:  It should hardly shock anybody that there are open-mics at a comedy competition full of fucking open mic-ers.  There won’t be any headliners performing at this contest, and if there are any feature acts enrolled in this competition, they probably shouldn’t be featuring yet.

I should also probably mention it couldn’t have hurt one of these “experts” to proofread this webpage, and point out that yet again we have something going on that “isn’t part of the competition” but should be “some of the most fun things of the challenge experience.”  Perhaps the can use some of the money they plan on collecting from entry fees.

J-Dub: Open-Mic is to comedy what rectal cancer is to happiness. Not only is it the lowest form of alleged entertainment, it is the bread crumbs in the shittiest comedy meat-loaf imaginable. Think about it. These assholes are charging you to be part of a three-day event with dick for prize money, then they have the absolute fucking gall to fill it up with the comedy version of karaoke night?

Not to mention…I’m curious. Since they only give the winner $300, the entry fees have to be awfully low, right?

  • Previous Competitors and CCA Members registration:  $220.00
  • This includes three sets:  One in each show for the judges
  • Previous Competitors and CCA members after June 1st, 2015 in $270.00
  • New Competitors registration:  $270.00 by June 1, 2015
  • New Competitors after June 1, 2015 is $320
  • Non-Competitors Audit Registration:  $100
  • This includes everything from the above except for the three show sets in front of the judges and the professional critiques.
  • Finalists will get an additional longer set on the final night.

Meehan:  It doesn’t exactly take a degree in Mathematics to figure out this is a gigantic hose-job. Don’t forget, the prize money is only three bills.  That’s only the first indicator that these people don’t have the first clue how a competition like this is supposed to work.

Of course the finalists get a longer set on the final night. That’s sort of how competition works.  Could you imagine if they decided the winner of the Super Bowl the first week of the playoffs and then you had to spend the next month watching the Cincinnati Bengals try to justify all of that money they’re throwing at Andy Dalton?  The winners perform at the end.  But then again, since there’s so much super fun awesome stuff going on, who cares about the competition itself anyway?

J-Dub: Again, this event is complete bullshit, and anybody who goes to it thinking they can advance their comedy career will probably be a big fan of Kool-Aid’s new flavor, “Jonestown.”

Welcome to Open Mic Night! Be sure to have some Kool-Aid!

Welcome to Open Mic Night! Be sure to have some Kool-Aid!

This is actually like going to one of those cattle-call job interviews, and when you get there, you realize some jack-off is trying to get you to pay them to sell sunglasses or some other useless garbage at a mall kiosk or worse.

Save yourself the time and trouble here; you can get the same effect by taking $300, stuffing it inside a whiskey bottle, shoving it up your own ass, then shattering it with a hammer. The stuff you’ll see at the emergency room is seriously funnier than anything you’ll see at the “Clean” Comedy Challenge, and as bad as that sounds, you still won’t be in fucking Anderson, Indiana.

This option is ideal (We’re assuming they are talking about the $100 option) if you are a comic who just wants to come to network, hang out, meet other comics, and learn more about your craft.

If you don’t think competiting (We’re not correcting that misspelling) would be beneficial to you, you can audit the seminars and still learn a great deal.  You will not be allowed to perform at the open mics though.  Those are reserved for competing folks only!  (Open Mics will not receive the professional critiques.  The Celebrity Guests may or may not be at the open mics.)

Meehan:  Here again, you can do all of this stuff by going to a ten dollar comedy show.  Comedians always love discussing the business of comedy, so there will be no problem getting them to discuss what works and what doesn’t work with you after a show.  And you can network with other comics on Facebook.  Facebook is a social networking website, and social networking is where you network with people in a social manner.  I can start from the beginning if you want me to go over it again.

J-Dub: Holy living fuck, how could these asswipes be more misguided?  I get no money for winning this, then they tell me I can “network” with other “comedians,” then they tell me the “Wal-Mart” priced option is the best.  At this point, I’m going back to my “money in the whiskey bottle” approach.

What did contestants say about the challenge last year? Click here to read some quotes from past contestants.

Meehan:  I’ll save us all some time here. I can guess what they would sound like:

“It was a rip roarin’ good time!  I did that funny voice I always do that sounds like a chipmunk and everybody went crazy!  Clean comedy is so much fun!”

“I feel like this ended up being really beneficial to my comedy career, even though now I can’t pay my utility bill and my apartment has no running water…”

“After I had a stroke, I was placed in this very shady care facility.  Some time in late July after dinner I was thrown into a windowless van and dropped off at a comedy club.  Having been in and out of hospitals and rehab clinics over the past two months, I was delighted to finally get the chance to laugh again.  I stayed for the whole show and it was easily the worst night of my life…”

When and where is the 2015 Clean Comedy Challenge?  July 23-25 is the competiton.  July 26th there is an added show for selected individuals and is not Mandatory.  The shows each night will be at The Hoosier Park Casino in Anderson, Indiana.  See the “About” page for hotel and airport details.  Casino rates for Contestants at the Best Western Hotel in Anderson, IN ($69/night) Please contact <email address withheld> after you register to get information on how to secure your casino rate at the hotel.

Meehan:  So, you got over a month to get ready for this.  But you may need to prepare for the fact you are really headed for one of those “everybody winds” type events usually reserved for pre-school T-ball.  Everybody making the finals isn’t a recipe for this thing having any meaningful results. No need to re-explain this.

Dubsism:  As the member of this team who actually lives in Indiana, let me fill in some details for you on the locale.

First of all, when they talk about the “airport” in Anderson, they mean this:

Crop Duster

So, if you don’t want to smell like the stuff they use to kill corn worms, your flight will actually arrive in Indianapolis, which is the closest thing the Hoosier State has to a city. From there, it’s about a two-day ride via Conestoga Wagon to Anderson, where the local Best Western has an award-winning water park.

swimming hole with tire swing

It may look “rustic,” but you’ll learn to love the bucolic splendor once Delmer the Swimmin’ Hole Attendant teaches you the proper treatment for snapping turtle bites.  As far as the rooms at the Anderson Best Western are concerned, well, let’s just say that $69 is “four-star” money for rural Indiana, and you are sure to not be disappointed by what you get for your money.

The PAnderson Best Western's Presidential Suite.  Don't wait until the last minute to book.

The Anderson Best Western’s Presidential Suite. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your reservation.

When you have those moments between sets to interact with the locals, you can rest assured that Lurleen, the hospitality manager is more than happy to tell you about her several brushes with death, most of which involve getting an entire rotisserie chicken stuck in her throat.

colts fan fat

Lurleen loves her job, and she thanks God every day for the Heimlich maneuver and the biscuit gravy at Cracker Barrel.  Not to mention she loves to give Delmer a “chin-job” every time he brings her a snapping turtle, and for a “Family Size” Three Musketeers bar, she’ll let you watch.

Conclusion:

As we’ve stated, stand-up comedy is not an easy thing to do.  It’s not exactly lucrative either, as most comics rarely make money beyond covering their expenses.  I guess that’s why we were willing to write an article about how wrong it is to hold a competition such as this one and charge this much money, all the while trying to give contestants this idea that all they’re looking for in this industry can be found for three hundred dollars.  It’s an absolute fucking insult to charge hard-working comics this much money for a contest where they don’t stand a chance at getting anything out of it.

For the record, we’re sure these are all decent people trying to put together a good comedy contest, but there lies the problem:  Maybe they don’t know better…and that’s a very scary thing.  It’s one thing to knowingly be screwing hard-working comics out of money, and it’s another to be doing it completely unaware of the damage you’re doing to their careers.  You’re effectively setting comedy back even further by holding this competition, which we’re guessing doesn’t have a lot of participants at the moment.

Not to mention, it has actually united the “light” and the “dark” sides of the comedy “Force” in disapproving of this crap.

Thanks for visiting Dubsism and First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content and general advice on how to be undeniably awesome.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

One comment on “The “Force” of Stand-Up Comedy

  1. Ravenation
    June 18, 2015

    Reblogged this on First Order Historians.

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