A couple of nights ago I performed in comedy show at a bar. I used to do a ton of these, but don’t do very many anymore. It’s also fun to work with the younger comics.
One of the things about these shows is that usually sound is limited, so I do the show with just a handheld mic, not a lapel or headset mic. I do use one of Nick Lewin’s Microphone Holders for tricks where I can’t use a mic stand and need both hands.
This particular bar had a lot of sound options, but I still used the handheld. I really do prefer a handheld mic as you can use it to gesture and emote. I also try to not use music in my show if I’m not doing a 45+ min headline set. The other night I was just doing a feature (middle) spot, so it was very low tech for me.
It’s fun to go out and flex my bar show muscle to make sure I can still do them!
Today is the final day of the school assembly tour, and after 5 weeks I’ve learned a lot!
The big change was the last time I did this tour, I disliked when the kids sat on the bleacher and I was in the basketball court. I was used to having my back against a wall and the kids sitting on the floor, which is how most school assemblies in the Northwest seat the kids. The advantage of having the kids in the bleachers is that they can see more. The disadvantage is that I don’t have a backdrop, so smaller props can be harder to see. Luckily this year’s show doesn’t really use any small props that the audience needs to see.
I’m much more comfortable with using a handheld mic, and use it most of the time during the show, except a few spots where I need both hands. Using a handheld mic I think is visually superior to a headset as you can use the mic as a prop. I use it to accentuate a spot where I laugh, or cue the audience to a spot where they are supposed to respond.
Using a handheld mic also helps create a certain image, it makes me look more like a stand up comic than “magician”. My warm up is doing “crowd work” where I talk to people and try to find jokes with what they say. It’s a lot of fun, but not easy, especially for kids. How I frame is while we’re waiting for the last class that’s 5 mins late to arrive, I tell them we won’t have time for questions, so they can ask them now while we’re waiting to start. Really the show has started, and I do the questions started at the show’s scheduled start time. Usually one of the early questions I’ll get asked is if I’m a comedian. That means the image I’m trying to portray is working. When I get asked that, part my response is that doing stand up come for kids isn’t a thing. What cracks me up is I then do 5-8 minutes of stand up for the kids!
I’ll probably have more reflections on things that I’ve learned on the 20+ hour drive home over the next couple of days…