“Remember this is the hardest thing there is to do. If you can do this you can do anything.”
I recently read a posting on The Nerdist that featured Bill Hick’s Principles of Comedy. I’m only at 25% of them – at best. I am sure you have heard or read many of these before but I think they are so spot-on and appreciate their no-nonsense simplicity.
Bill Hick’s says if you can do comedy, you can do anything. Ok – I get the point but I also don’t want to disrespect people who are saving lives, cleaning toilets – doing stuff I much rather NOT do. But if you take the point in the context in which it is meant, yes – it’s hard.
How many of these principals can you honestly say you comply with? I think I’m at about 3 if I was to be totally honest …and why wouldn’t I be?
My biggest struggle is stage presence. I can feel that it is lacking. Again – me being totally honest.
It is so strange, too, because people who really know me are always commenting to me how animated I am but when it comes to strangers, I guess it’s just not natural. I have tried to “pretend” I am telling my stories to people I know well, but it doesn’t come off genuine. I have also tried telling my stories just as is, without any treatment – just see how it goes. That isn’t quite it, either.
The posting in which Bill Hick’s principles were referenced were written by Chris Hardwick and in his article, he addresses the issue of finding one’s voice. I like what he has to say, though it is hard for someone like me to hear as I am someone who wants to sometimes have a formula or process to follow. Basically, it’s just getting up there and keep trying and it will eventually come to you – but it will take time. He also reminds you to have fun. Right! That was sort of the point in the first place, wasn’t it?
Here are the principles of comedy Chris reprinted as per Bill Hicks – definitely worth a reminder look at least once per week.
BILL HICKS’S PRINCIPLES OF COMEDY
1. If you can be yourself on stage nobody else can be you and you have the law of supply and demand covered.
2. The act is something you fall back on if you can’t think of anything else to say.
3. Only do what you think is funny, never just what you think they will like, even though it’s not that funny to you.
4. Never ask them is this funny – you tell them this is funny.
5. You are not married to any of this shit – if something happens, taking you off on a tangent, NEVER go back and finish a bit, just move on.
6. NEVER ask the audience “How You Doing?” People who do that can’t think of an opening line. They came to see you to tell them how they’re doing, asking that stupid question up front just digs a hole. This is The Most Common Mistake made by performers. I want to leave as soon as they say that.
7. Write what entertains you. If you can’t be funny be interesting. You haven’t lost the crowd. Have something to say and then do it in a funny way.
8. I close my eyes and walk out there and that’s where I start, Honest.
9. Listen to what you are saying, ask yourself, “Why am I saying it and is it Necessary?” (This will filter all your material and cut the unnecessary words, economy of words)
10. Play to the top of the intelligence of the room. There aren’t any bad crowds, just wrong choices.
11. Remember this is the hardest thing there is to do. If you can do this you can do anything.
12. I love my cracker roots. Get to know your family, be friends with them.