Dr Nic

First 5 Minutes of Stand Up Comedy

I thought you might be interested to see the fruits of my new hobby: stand up comedy.

It should be running in “HD” for 20% more laughs. Video taken by Greg Fairbrother, my awesome Mocra Off Railers co-driver.

I discovered a local Stand Up Comedy Course which started 6 weeks ago. The final “night” of the course was for the 8 of us to do a show for family and friends. I don’t remember reading about that on the sales brochure.

Nonetheless, knowing you had a 5 minute set to perform in front of your family and friends sets the expectation in your mind from day one that you don’t want to be shit. So we listened up, wrote as many jokes as we could think of, and hoped desperately we wouldn’t be a blubbering mess on the night.

It’s not all left to chance. Each week, the funny woman who ran the course, Fiona McGary, made us use the microphone on the stage. Either talk about our week, or list all the funny things you can think of about frogs. Or any other European people.

Each week we boldly attempted to make our other classmates laugh. At the start, they don’t. So I quickly learned to edit and then how to present comedy on stage. I tried to learn it fast because it’s weird telling a punch line, waiting for the laughs, and only being rewarded with a uncomfortable shared silence.

All my jokes started out crappy. So I attempted to edit them into “setup-punchline format”. Another phrase for “edit” is “delete half”. I’m a verbose writer. This turns out to suck awfully for stand up comedy. Or perhaps I should be a concise writer too. Oh the novelty of the idea.

Another way to edit a joke so it is ready for an audience is to delete all of it. Turns out, just because I thought of something funny doesn’t mean anyone else thinks it’s funny. Ewwww, that was an uncomfortable life lesson.

I don’t know anything else and the above is probably wrong too. The last six weeks have been a blur. Lots of practise, lots of editing, lots of writing, lots of testing ideas on Mocra staff when they aren’t expecting it, and weekly doses of disturbing reality at the Tuesday workshops when I realise I still have 10 years of more practise to go before David Letterman might ask me to come on his show. He’ll only be 112 years old by then, so fingers crossed.

I’m very appreciative of the 20+ family and friends who came along for the show. All the comedians were very appreciative of especially Lucas and Chendo who sat at the front and giggled like little girls all night.

Spending the last six weeks with the other noob comedians has been wonderful. It will be fun seeing everyone around the Open Mic rooms in Brisbane.

Finally, and most importantly, thanks to Fiona for running the course, and bumping us forward each week with the subtle phrase “that’s good; though it will need more editing.”

21 Responses to “First 5 Minutes of Stand Up Comedy”

  1. I thought I had successfully avoided seeing your standup act by leaving Australia a week early, but fate and YouTube have prevailed!

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  4. Mario Aquino says:

    I applaud your pursuit of a personal interest that has nothing to do with technology but does require creativity and guts. May you experience success at least equal to what you’ve enjoyed in the Ruby world.

  5. Mum says:

    Great and no Mother jokes!!!! Well done.


  6. Gina Luca says:

    Lucky you, Nic! Your material is all PG so you can put it where anyone can look at it. You and our other esteemed classmates know the potential my material has to topple prudish types from their perches and denigrate society’s moral fabric. I wish to announce that I shall henceforth be known as “Gina Luca, Too Much Information Girl”. You, fellow noob can rest comfortably in the knowledge that you are all class, my friend, all class! Me, I shall continue to aspire to your superior standards! ;)

    Great job … may you always deflect comedy groupies with a single, perfectly honed punchline!

  7. Peter Cooper says:

    Lots more mother jokes please!! ;-)

  8. CJ Kihlbom says:

    I found myself laughing out loud (LOL, as the kids say) several times. Great job!

    For your next set, you could do an adaptation of your Future Ruby talk (http://drnicwilliams.com/2009/07/13/futureruby-talk-living-with-1000-open-source-projects/):

    Living with 1000 open sores.

    On second though, that doesn’t sound that appealing.

  9. Manuel says:

    Funny, when I saw your talk on going from 1 to 1000 projects I immediately thought you should do stand-up. Well done!

  10. Micha says:

    great job!

  11. Mislav says:

    Hey Nic that’s pretty good!

    Undoubtedly you’re going to get even better. Keep it up!

  12. Steven Bristol says:

    That was great Nic! I was actaully laughing, well done!

  13. First?!?

    Surely you are forgetting your A-Team ‘standup’ at RubyConf a year or two ago.

  14. Jack Dempsey says:

    Well done Dr. Nic. I too was pleasantly surprised to actually be laughing out loud. Can’t wait to see where you go with this. Congratulations.

  15. Mark Friedgan says:

    Nice job, not that funny, but impressive none the less.

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  17. When you first mentioned stand-up commedy, I thought you meant “Living with 1000 Open Source Projects”: http://www.infoq.com/presentations/williams-open-source
    - it was great too, had good timing etc.

    Seems you don’t have to switch to professional horse shoeing after all (-:

  18. Joel says:

    He he he he… very funny!

  19. Val Smith says:

    I gotta say well done. This is one of thee most difficult and scary things in the world to do, so kudos to you. For me though the best gag about viagra remains that nurses put it in the cocoa in nursing homes so the old men won’t pee on their slippers. Feel free to steal that gag – I just did! So, when’s the next instalment in the comedy career?

  20. Lee says:

    Well done Dr. Nic. I too was pleasantly surprised to actually be laughing out loud. Can’t wait to see where you go with this. Congratulations.