Going For the Gaps

Another Monday comin’ in the short month, and good for the people that work “regular” jobs, this Monday is a day off for most. As a comic I sometimes lose track of holidays, as my work schedule doesn’t include as many. My vacation days and weekends are the days I don’t have a show (or gig) or travel. Today’s one like that—travel on the way to a show.

I survived the 25th anniversary of bein’ paid to make people laugh (and dropping other forms of work to feed myself) and it’s now into the second quarter century of (hopefully) making a living of humor. With the things I’ve thought and the things I say (which aren’t always the things I’d thought I’d say), that audience/performance filter is maybe the last stage of writing. You have it in your brain a certain way and then you have to say it so it makes sense to them.

I’ve worked with a couple friends who reminded me of a good comedy thought. At first I wanted laughs, any laughs… from what I was saying that I thought were jokes. Then it was more laughs from more jokes, (a real confidence builder…) and finally it was good laughs  which comes from good jokes. The ones where they laugh ‘cause you’re communicating what you want at the level you want.

So jokes, laughs, good jokes, good laughs. Then it’s tags, which are like extended thoughts on the first joke/premise that make them laugh harder or better or more. (Some folks. act out their punchlines much to the same effect.)

But one thing I forgot in Comedy and in life: You want good silences, or as some pals recently pointed out, gaps. By “gaps” I mean those powerful moments when everyone is waiting for the next thing to happen and you’re the one in charge of both the quiet and the soon to be not quiet. The tension when people are “with” you, along for your ride, and it’s a moment in a show that is wonderful to have in your control.

Life sometimes needs that quiet in between the action too, and I forgot how powerful it is to notice that. Sometimes unlike the stage, we’re not in charge of the “action” in our lives, but if we can notice the quiet, it’s sometimes just as powerful. I hope in your life and in your laughs this week, month, year, or for the next 25 you get to enjoy your gaps in the noise.

Laugh with you soon.