When it comes to working out material, my motto is fail often. I know what you’re thinking—“Is this chick wack?” Yes, and. Failing is funny. And necessary.
Comedians love to sit around over a drink or 12 and share stories of shows they bombed, auditions they tanked, and generally stupid things they’ve done to wreak havoc on their lives. You don’t hit on the juicy golden nuggets without first trying out the stink bombs.
When it comes to sketch writing, they say the ratio is nine bad sketch ideas for one good one. For improv, the ratio is six mediocre shows for one stellar one. Standup, 10 lousy jokes for one winner. The point is, you have to be OK with failing. I sometimes sign up for things I know I’m horrible at just to practice being humiliated. For example, I’m a lousy dancer—like, I’m as bad as your deaf, one-legged, 95-year-old grandma—but I signed up for a hip-hop dance class anyway. I was easily the worst one in the class and proved it when we all had to perform the solo dance routine we’d worked on for six weeks. The other hip-hoppers (I believe that’s the Latin word) turned their heads away. Some laughed. The teacher said I was, indeed, as terrible as I suspected. But the cool thing is that the class got me more accustomed to failing. Adults hate failing, but get used to it if you want to do comedy.
Something that really helps you feel real cool about failing is finding a comedic home, a place you can hang out with friends and share your epic fails. I have two comedic homes: Second City Hollywood and iO West. These two places are where I feel most safe and able to fail, but trust me, I fail in tons of other places too. How about the last standup set I did at Flappers? Or just yesterday, when Itried to be funny while renting a car by telling the employee my brother and I were married, and the guy just looked at me like I was a complete lunatic. Gosh darn, that burned.
So for the two or three people who still read articles all the way to the end in this Twitter-verse, fail often and find a home where you feel comfortable failing.
See you out there!
Megan Grano is a 2008 alumna of Chicago’s Second City. She toured with Second City’s National Touring Company for three years and wrote and performed revues for ETC Stage and “Girls Night Out.”