I have shelves. A handyman put them up, all over the place. Finally, all my shit is up, on these little cantilevers. I moved to Burbank in April, to a house. Fifteen minutes from the studio, with a backyard for KilBaby. He’s four, by the way. Says cute stuff all the time, with a face full of dimples.
It took awhile to figure out my routine at work, to find a rhythm. I started at the day job in September and I couldn’t imagine writing more than three jokes in a day. I was used ambling up to jokes, on my own time. Writing, re-writing, ordering another coffee, reading a few links on HuffPo, then re-writing again. That’s about an hour per joke.
Now here’s what I do. Get in at 8:30/9. Write premises, which I used to call setups. Here’s a premise, “At a press conference yesterday, President Obama said that House Speaker John Boehner walked out on talks about raising the debt celiing.” It’s an awful premise, because it features three horrible things: President Obama (boring), John Boehner (should be known as craven, but is only known as emotional and orange) and the debt ceiling (complex). Premises are always true, and the punchlines are lies.
Writing premises gets my head pointed in the right direction. Maybe til 9 or 9:15. The other writers do them too, and then we share and start hacking away at them. It’s nice when you’ve all read the same story but come up with different angles. The monologue joke is a such a tight structure. Two sentences. Premise is true, punchline is not. As short as possible, but that doesn’t mean chop out every word. Sometimes a little verbage will help in a misdirect. And they’re written to be spoken, not read, so they need to be somewhat conversational.
Poring over word choice the past ten months makes me realize how sloppy I am in my standup. I never thought about word choice on purpose, I just knew when a joke felt finished. If I said the right word onstage, I’d scribble it in my notebook, but I never thought of why it was the right word, why once word was better than another. I didn’t like dissecting my act- it ruined whatever was magical about comedy. In hindsight, that was probably not the right attitude.
I perform about twice a week now. I squeeze in as much new stuff as I can, but it takes a long time to find a solid bit and expand on it. Standup was so easy when it was my only job and I had no loved ones. It got a little harder when I started writing too, and now it’s actually hard. I don’t like being away from Kilbaby at night, too. I’ve grown a heart and I miss him.