why I like comedians

I like what comedians have to say about connections and stagemanship. Actually I like how they talk about a lot of things, like I've said beforeI have a couple of ideas about why their stuff about presentation resonates so much with me, but in essence I think it's two things.

First, and most obvious, my background includes a fair bit of theatre, especially improv, which tends to be heavily oriented around comedy. So I kind of see where the connections are because that experience is part of who I am. Throughout junior high and high school I competed at the Newfoundland Improv Games, and met some of my favourite people (most of whom are now performers of one type or another) there and through the productions and shows I did as a result.

Second, I think the way many comedians approach the art is fundamentally similar to the way I approach bellydance. Even though my goal isn't usually to be funny, my relationship with and ability to read other dancers onstage and my audience is often essential  and I actually really like performing as a conversation instead of talking "at". Not that it's right or wrong or the only way to think about it, but reading and responding is important to my way of doing things.

Improv theatre has a lot in common with the group improvisational styles of bellydance, (it's right there in the word) but I think even more in common with the kind of structured improvisation that I've done as Lavish stuff with Audra. Onstage, you read the audience and the person you're dancing with, and you make not-entirely-conscious split second decisions and guesses based on what you know about where you are in the music, the arc of the piece, and what you know about how the other person thinks and dances.

There's a lot more to it than that (like a lot a lot), but it occurred to me recently how much it has in common with the other improvising I've done...

Even though a scene about scientist gangs having a turf war over lab space doesn't appear to have much in common with this, I assure you that it does:



I always found it strange that I wandered off in such a different direction from the actors and comedians that I hung out with and often still hang out with. I guess I'm coming to realize that some of the ways that I like to think about dance aren't so different after all. 

So since this all came about from the fact that I was reading things that Louis C.K. had said, I'm tacking on some of my favourite observations he's made on creating, performing, and doing things.

"When you bomb, it's like a murder happened to you. And you've got data. You've got evidence. It's like forensics. You walk around poking things with a pencil and go, 'Well, if you hadn't said this after that, it wouldn't have gone so bad.' And you learn. You have a huge wealth of information."
-Louis C.K. Interview with XM Unmasked

"Don't smoke pot. Don't bitch. Don't give up. Go on stage ANYWHERE. Try, fail, repeat."
-Louis C.K., Reddit AMA, 2011

"Now I tend to just keep glomming onto something and adding more and more layers and pieces and then taking away stuff that was weak...It's like the way they make Samurai swords. They fold a piece of steel and bang it until it's thin. And then they fold it again and bang it again until it's thin until it's just compact and all the air and impurities are just leaving and it's just this pure, dense steel. So that's what I try to do." 
-Louis C.K., Chewed Up, DVD Commentary

Anyway, like I said, I love comedians and I love how they talk. I'll probably keep reading their things they say and talking about them. Probably how I absolutely adore how, on the whole, comedy culture embraces risk-taking, failure, and hard work over the nebulous idea of born talent and perfection. That's just rad.


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