Louis C.K was the subject of an article I did as an audition piece for a satire site. They politely passed, so I decided to share it with you here, enjoy.
Louis C.K audience annoyed he didn’t masturbate in front of them.
Louis C.K returned to stand up in New York much to the delight of some of his fans. However, there were some in the audience who felt that the 50-year-old comedian came up short.
We spoke to some of those in attendance.
“I wasn’t expecting much that night. I heard rumours that Louis was about, I thought he just came to watch. Boy was I wrong.” said one audience member, “I’d never seen Louis’ act before. I mean I’d seen him do stand up, but I was excited for this.”
“When Louis got on stage, I thought, aw yeah, this is it,” said another audience member. That elation soon turned to disappointment, “I was pumped to see him perform, but then he started telling jokes, lame.”
Other audience members were also confused, “He showed up unannounced, it was such a surprise. My husband and I are thinking, no way, we’re going to see a short fat guy masturbate. One time we watched Danny DeVito taking a piss in Central Park but this would be much better, or so we thought”.
The disgruntled attendee went on, “We thought that it would be a build up, a few jokes and then he would start but as he went on we realised that it wasn’t going be the case. My husband was devastated, he was like a child who didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas. Imagine not getting to see Santa masturbate”.
Someone in the front row also expressed sadness at the comedian’s half-cocked return. “I was sitting there watching his crotch intently. Not only did his penis stay in his pants the whole time but he was flaccid too. There may have been signs of life at one point, but it could have been how his jeans bunched up.”
A Louis veteran spoke up
One veteran of the New York comedy circuit still holds out hope, “I knew Louis was going to crack wise instead of cracking one off on his first time back. You got to give him room to blossom. At the minute he’s shy but give him time, and everyone will know what’s Louis’ Louis looks like. They’re going to add a D.I to his initials.”.
When asked to divulge more information the comic, who wished to remain anonymous went on “When he first started out it was his party trick. Some people could juggle, some did impressions. Louis could crank one out like nobodies business, beautiful. He’s the YoYo Ma of jerking off. It was like Louis, and the cock are one. His penis was an extension of himself, and soon he is going to extend his dick for all to see”.
Somehow, you may be surprised to hear that I have got myself on another stand-up bill. This time I will be travelling all the way to lovely Derry to, hopefully, entertain an audience. More specifically the Cellar bar. I’m excited and am thankful to Danny Kelly for agreeing to have me.
This will also be the first time that I will be performing outside of Belfast. It will be the first time I don’t know anyone there.
Frankly, that makes me excited because I like going somewhere that I don’t know anyone. When no one knows who you are you almost have permission to become a new person. You have nothing to lose, so you are allowed to do whatever you like.
You’re probably thinking that I haven’t learned anything from last time but here is where you’re wrong.
I have five things to keep in mind. I’m going to share them with you. This is also a reminder for myself so that I don’t repeat the same mistakes again.
5: Don’t apologise
I’m not a big fan of apologising. If you apologise for one thing, then you tend to apologise for everything. I try to apologise for things that I am genuinely sorry for, which can suck for those around me because I tend to not be sorry. If you apologise too much then you get a reputation for having no integrity and being insincere.
I forgot all about that guiding principle the last time I did stand up. I kept apologising when I shouldn’t have done so. I kept going “Sorry I haven’t prepared”. This is a big no-no. Stand up audiences are savvy. Stand up audiences are more akin to sharks, a drop of blood in the water will lead to a feeding frenzy. When you perform stand up, you have to project yourself as being low status yet entirely in charge.
Alex told me that I should have phrased it differently. Instead of saying “I didn’t prepare” I should have said, “I like to keep it loose and see where I go”. Both are true, but one sounds better to an audience.
I won’t need that line because…
4: Prepare to stand up
This time is different. I have a script ready this time. I’m a bit strange in that I don’t just like things go well, I like to veer from one extreme to the other. I’m trying to get myself more on board with the idea of consistency. There is this part of the brain that says to me “Why be good when you can frustrate everyone and pull it out of nowhere?”. There have been times when I have been able to do this. Other times when trying to get by on sheer swagger has been a disaster.
This time I’m going to be half ready. I have a 2000 word script that I’m going to familiarise myself with.
When I was first starting out, I used to remember every word verbatim. This led to delivery being stiff. What was worse, the slightest deviation in syllable meant that I would get lost and have to retrace my steps.
Now I am a bit more lose in my approach. There are several points that I want to hit but if I miss some of the minor ones, which is to know.
This is advice I would give to you if you ever find yourself having to make a speech. Know the framework. Familiarise yourself with the essential beats and wing the bits in between.
You could do it like me and go in the complete opposite direction. Do the whole thing by ear and hope the inspiration comes to you. I don’t advise it.
3: Be more physical
I’m a big gangly freak at 6ft4. I’m also quite nimble. My childhood hero was Jim Carrey, and I tried to mimic him when I could. Alex told me that I need to cut loose and be more physical. This is going to take time because here is the thing about stand-ups that I have noticed and I am no different. Some stand-ups want to be the clown, but they also want to have your respect as well. These stand-ups make sure you know that they are smart and cool. I have to let go of this. I have to be the lowest status person in the room.
Uncontrolled movement is a sign of low status. Think about Daniel Craig being James Bond. Part of James Bond’s appeal is that he is always in control. Bond doesn’t move often, but when he does, it is with precision and economy. People are not going to stand up to see James Bond. I’m not James Bond.
2: Don’t mention the other acts
Jesus Kieran, remember when you thought this was a good idea. Never again, you may be trying to make the whole thing more inclusive. At stand up the tone is entirely different. When you were doing Mental Deficiency gigs that was fine. Music is different from comedy. When you mention other acts at stand up, it sounds like your slagging them off. Don’t mention anyone while you’re up there. You are Robinson Crusoe, the stage is an island.
1: Get off sooner rather than later
One of my favourite stand-ups, Harry Hill, gave this advice “If it’s going bad, get off, if it’s going well, get off”. You really can’t get off the stage soon enough with stand up. Better to leave them saying, “I wish he stayed on longer” rather than “We sure got our money’s worth”.
Last time, because I didn’t prepare it meant that I overran. In general, no matter what you’re doing it’s better not to overrun. It’s rude, I know that you know all this. Sometimes I need to remind myself, and this is the reminder to future me “Kieran, get off the stage sweetheart.”
Stand-up is one of those things that people tell me I should do.
While I appreciate, stand up I’ve never felt a burning desire to it or pursue it further than an infrequent hobby.
However, every so often I get the itch to get up on stage. On Monday the 4th of June 2018, I scratched.
I bombed big style.
Let me tell you what I learned from bombing, so you don’t have to.
5: Prepare a little
First some context.
When I first did stand-up, I used to learn the lines so rigidly that if I was one word out it would throw me off completely.
When I last did stand up I didn’t prepare as much as I usually did and it went better than expected.
I thought that for Monday I would push it even further and freestyle the whole set.
I made a mistake.
The set wasn’t a complete write-off but I’m not going to tell you what went well. You didn’t come here for that.
What happened was that I bounced around from subject to subject without developing a through line. Some jokes came out of nowhere with no set up so they didn’t land as well as they could have.
When you don’t prepare, there is going to be several long pauses. Those pauses kill the timing.
You’re reading this thinking that something as fundamental as not preparing is not a lesson you need to learn. I’m not that smart.
From past performances of stand up, I’ve learned that you don’t want to lock yourself too tightly into the words. If you do any flub will send you flying off course.
On Monday I learned that winging it isn’t good either.
Next time I do stand up, I’ll be trying to find that sweet spot between over and under-preparing.
The point of preparation into to lock yourself in it’s to give your mind the freedom should something unexpected come up.
4: You’re on your own
Stand-up is strange. You get up in front of people, recite a couple of sentences and hope that they laugh.
Your goal is to change how people view things through comedy.
Now that you know what stand up is I can tell you first hand what it isn’t. It’s not acknowledging the other acts.
When I performed with my band, Mental Deficiency, I would mention the support acts and thank them.
You don’t do this in stand up. I found out the hard way.
One of the performers on before me didn’t get many laughs. They were young, and I thought it would be a good idea to, on stage, tell him he did well.
Now in my head, I thought I was coming across as “Hey kid we’ve all been through it”. It wasn’t until a friend told me after that it came across as “Hey kid listen to me the old pro”.
How condescending, I’m not a pro, I’m not even amateur. When I realised this I cringed so hard I castrated myself.
Stages are strange; they’re an elevated piece of ground that as soon as you step onto it, you’re a performer no matter what you think.
Keep in mind the context of what you are supposed to be doing on stage.
My mistake was that I thought I was coming across as helpful and inclusive. In a stand-up setting, it may have come across as, at best mocking or patronising at worst.
Don’t worry about anyone else focus on your own act first. Acknowledge no one.
3: Never admit that you are screwing up while screwing up
Your perception of time changes when you’re on stage. Seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours etc.
A silence can last a lifetime. There are going to be silences. From onstage someone listening and someone unimpressed sounds the same.
What laughter there is you can’t hear. A feeling of dread rises from your gut, “I am bombing” it’s the only thought in your head. You’re arrogant and didn’t prepare. You don’t have anything to steer you through the vacuum, so you announce “I’m bombing”.
Big mistake, if you weren’t bombing before, you’re bombing now.
Friends who came to see me said that I wasn’t bombing until I announced that I was bombing. Whether I was or I wasn’t didn’t matter, I had sealed my fate.
In stand up as in life, people hate weakness. We’re sharks in that regard, any hint of blood in the water and there’s a feeding frenzy.
If you think you’re not doing well, don’t let on.
Admission plants doubt in the minds of others. There’s also the added bonus of it becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
2: Don’t attack the audience
Attacking the audience is the worst mistake I made. What was worse was that I didn’t realise that I had attacked them until after.
There was a group of improvisers in the front row. I performed in an improv group for several years. During my time in the group audiences offered us the same suggestions repeatedly, such as “Taxidermist”, “Sex-change” and “Meat factory”. It got a bit old.
I riffed on that saying how frustrated it was getting the same words all the time and how annoying improv audiences could be.
Again someone had to point out to me, an attack on one audience is an attack on all audiences.
It’s not even like I was unaware of this. Ghostbusters 2016 died on its arse because it attacked the audience before the film came out.
I was aware that attacking the audience is a no-no. Even though I believed that I was having a go at a entirely different audience the stand-up audience couldn’t tell the difference… because audiences are fucking stupid (;D).
This bears repeating, not for your sake but mine; DON’T ATTACK THE AUDIENCE.
1: Keep up the momentum
Before I went on the compere gave me an excellent introduction that was high energy.
The MC got the crowd going, he gave me the gift of a hyped audience, and I squandered it by not jumping straight in with a joke.
That’s going from 100mph in fifth gear to dropping down to first.
Dropping the momentum was not my biggest mistake. It was, however, the first thread that unravelled the stand-up sweater.
You have to keep the momentum going. Yes, there are going to be ebb and flow moments. You slow down to build up again, but you never stop.
It’s harder to start if you never stop.
Keeping up momentum applies to life. You have to keep up the momentum no matter what. Even if you are not good, you will get better through repeatedly doing. You may not make much progress, but you will make progress.
That’s what I need to do; I need to keep the momentum up. Before, I was never interested all that much in stand up, but now that I’m in the minus column, there has been a fire lit under me.
I have something to prove and I can’t wait to turn this defeat into a victory. Now that I have something to aim for and can’t wait for my next shot.
Stand up may have been in the background for me over the years but now it has my undivided attention.