The Resurrection and Stand Up Comedy


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There are plenty of Christian comics out there and the material they perform is often times, squeaky clean and non-controversial and there are other Christian comics out there whose material isn’t quite as clean. Although I don’t use curse words in my act, some of my material can be interpreted as less than Christian-like.

When I decided to do Stand Up, I decided to share the good, the bad and the ugly with my audiences. As a follower of Christ, I admit that I am a sinner and need salvation. In fact, for those of you that think that churches are full of self righteous people, allow me to give you the right perspective on that. I’ve heard it expressed this way before, “The churches are all filled with sinners.” I’ll add to that, Biblically, you cannot come to a faith in Christ unless you’ve admitted that you are indeed a sinner and are in need of a Savior, who has taken your place in the punishment that was supposed to be yours to bear, but has been paid in full by Jesus. This does NOT mean that you STOP sinning! It only means that you recognize that fact and that as you strive to live as He would want you to live, every day He helps you deal with all of your weaknesses.

I will not get into a sermon but, I wanted to express how I could say the things that I say on stage and still consider myself a Christian. As a comic, I’m putting it ALL out there! Humor comes from the reality of life and some of my experiences resonate with audiences because they too can relate. I’ve decided to reach deep inside my life and take out all the garbage and put it all out on display in a way that we have no choice but to laugh. I’m not proud of some of the things I do or did in my life but, the humor that results from it not only makes people happy but, keeps me grounded. I will never claim to be more ‘Righteous than thou!”, but I believe that one day, my life will serve as a testimony to others that Christianity is more than just dressing up in your Sunday best, going to church, singing some praise and worship tunes and tuning out the Pastor’s message as you contemplate what you’re going to eat at Furr’s Buffet!

When people discover that I am a Christian and then question my faith because of what they see on stage, I can confidently say that I will have an answer for them. I’m prepared:

1 Peter 3:15

… Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

Who knew that Stand Up would be a springboard to getting a deeper message across?

HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

Omar’s Patreon Site. Pledge your support!

https://www.patreon.com/omarcomedian?ty=h

Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There!


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If you have been going to stand up comedy shows or performed on them often enough, eventually, you will see and hear things that make your butt cheeks tighten up and make you wanna say, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!” Well, allow me to share a few of the moments I have been privileged to witness. Disclosure: Once you start reading, you can’t look away. Okay, here we go:

1. At an open mic, I witnessed a young man take the stage and proceeded to freeze. Nothing came out of his mouth. He literally took the mic and looked out at the audience and said nothing. I don’t know if it was stage fright or if this was his “bit”, but this “bit” lasted almost 10 minutes! He just stood there… I think maybe he uttered a word or two, but they certainly weren’t memorable. The audience felt tense for the guy. We all waited for him to say something. Anything! But, nope, it didn’t happen. His 10 minutes were up, he said “Thank you” and got off the stage. I’ve never seen the poor kid up on stage since…

2. At a regularly booked show, a comedian’s set wasn’t going particularly well and he was beginning to get heckled by a couple that took issue with one of his jokes. In an attempt to “riff” (engage the audience in a monologue), the comic dug himself a deeper hole. As the minutes wore on, the couple got louder and the jokes were no longer jokes. The comic tried his hardest to win them over but it didn’t help that the comic just got more insulting and less funny. At the end of his set, the comic tried to make amends with the couple and was completely ignored. That was tough to watch…

3. During another paid gig, a comic took the stage and started off well. Within about 15 minutes, the wheels started to fall off. All of a sudden, the material went a little “blue” (a term used to describe toilet or sexual type humor). The audience was no longer digging the material and the laughs suddenly stopped. Feeling the tension, the comic proceeded to scold the audience for not laughing, (not a good way to win an audience over). The comic ended his set 10 minutes shorter than what he was scheduled for. I watched, staring at the floor hoping I would become invisible…

4. A few years ago, during a weekend show at a comedy club in Arizona, the headliner took to the stage after the first two comics tore the room up! The comic had a “low key” style of delivery and, for the most part, had good material, but on this night, the audience was already used to the high energy of the first two comics. Well, that didn’t result well for him. The comedian started out well enough, but within about 20 minutes, the room started to slowly clear out. People were leaving. That has been the hardest thing to watch. The comedian made up for it the next night and performed an amazing set! But, what a price to pay…

Stand up comedy is like that. It’s not pretty. Each of the four incidents I described above will happen to every comic. If you’re in stand up comedy, and some of these things haven’t happened to you yet, well, you just haven’t been in the business long enough. If you are in denial about the reality of stand up, quit now.

Bombing; When Being in a Room Full of People Makes You Feel Alone


Bombing, (not getting any laughs while on stage), is not only a learning experience, it is an absolute certainty in the business of stand up. Last night was one of those nights for me. I will not make any excuses about why my set did not do so well. I will attempt to describe the environment I was in and feelings running through my head at the time. Here we go:

The stage is set at a local bar, which has made Tuesday nights a regular stand up comedy night. For the most part, the audiences can be 50/50 when it comes to being receptive. Tonight, the show is delayed as U.S.A battles Mexico in a soccer World Cup qualifying match. The game ultimately ends in a zero tie. A few people have left at the conclusion of the game, but most have stayed. Some of the patrons are regulars and some are fresh new faces. The bar can occupy at least 100 people. By the time the show starts, everyone has settled in to their socializing and drinking and the show begins 30 minutes after the soccer game has ended. The promoter of the show, and fellow comic, asks me if I am willing to go on first to “break the ice”. I reluctantly agree. I say that because I am accepting the daunting task of trying to get everyone’s attention with some humor while they are all enjoying their drinks and camaraderie. Being the first to take the stage is perceived as a losing effort. The assumption that you are funny and going first is at a negative rating. The way I see it, however, I am now a semi professional at this. I can “break the ice!”

My name is introduced, then my “Jump Around” intro music is played. No one recognizes my name and my out dated music does not seem to resonate with anyone in the audience. I take the stage to the sound of continuous chatter and absolutely no applause. No biggie. I will get them with my first joke. I get up, I greet the crowd and get in to my fist joke. I use a joke that gets laughs 100% of the time. It works, but only 1/3rd of the audience is with me. I can tell that continuing at this pace, I will end the show with the same 1/3rd of the crowd. I decide to “riff” (talk directly to specific member of the audience), in an effort to get them more engaged. I select to speak with 2 black guys, the only 2 black guys, seated at a table a few feet away from me. I make a joke about black people living in a predominately Latino town and the joke goes over well. But it goes well with the same 1/3rd of the audience. At this point, I think I can now take these people by the hand to my prepared material. I go for it! I go in to a bit about annoying people in Mexican parties. The bit is fairly new but did incredibly well at the comedy club where I hosted 7 straight shows last week, and I am being modest about it just doing “well”. It actually did way better than that! I get to the first punchline of the joke…nothing…I move quickly to the second punchline…nothing but blank faces. I move on to the 3rd punchline and get a few laughs, then a huge laugh when I describe the creepy family member that checks out all the women at the party. Then I get to the funniest part of the joke AND….nothing. Absolutely nothing.

At this point, I am sure you are asking yourself, “Why would anyone put themselves through that? If it were me, I do not know what I would do!” I am on my 7th year of doing stand up and only 4 years in to doing it as aggressively as I have been. I can now go on stage and handle the silence and the blank stares. Often times, I will even let the silence linger long enough for someone to feel the need to laugh! It is a technique that comes with time and patience. I realize that a complete “bomb” on stage is when a comic gets no laughter, but for me, if the laughs are not consistent and sincere, I have bombed. Pure and simple.

What keeps a comic like me going back to the stage night in and night out despite episodes like the one I have described? It is that stubborn feeling that I can still do better. I can learn to win over an audience like this one. I can take the few laughs that I did get and use those bits again when in front of a similar crowd. Yes, every audience is different, but just as you may have learned new techniques or procedures at your job, a stand up comic learns and applies those to each and every show.

If you ever meet a comic that has not been in the business for too long and boasts about how they will soon rise to the top, rest assured, “soon” really means 10 to 15 years. Most stand up comedians have quit way before then.

On to the next show tonight!!

Look At Me!!


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When a comic gets asked, “Why did you want to do stand up comedy?” The majority of the answers you’ll read will be, “I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh.” And to that, I’ve gotta say “B.S.!” Although that is a nice “pie in the sky” answer, it comes no where near the real reason. I will admit, my answer to that question cannot be meant to apply to EVERY comic, but I believe my answer is perhaps the most honest approach to that question. As a comic, who tries to share real life experiences with complete honesty, I would think you would expect nothing less from me. So, why have I chosen to do stand up comedy? Here it goes…

I do it for the attention. I do it because I enjoy when all eyes and ears are on me. I don’t seek this attention in any other setting. At the workplace, or at a party, you’ll swear I’m the most quiet individual. I allow others to get the spotlight. I don’t try to stand out anyplace else. But, if I am to be recognized for anything, I want it to be for something that no one else, or very few people can do. Yes, I appreciate the laughter but more so, I enjoy making a room full of complete strangers take notice of me. I enjoy them identifying with the words that I’m saying and I enjoy watching the affect I have on them with the orchestrated way I have put my words together. Knowing that I have planned out my set in a strategic way and watching the resulting laughter is exactly why I do this. The crowd watches me hit the stage and I know they’re thinking, “I dare you to make me laugh!” Then, within a few words, BAM! They’re mine! They’ll hang on each word until I tell them I’m done. You will never understand the rush that comes from that until you’ve done it. It’s not only on the comedy stage that you can accomplish that. Do it in everything you do that no one else can claim to do better and you’ll understand exactly why it is that I have chosen to do what I do. I’m seeking the admiration of the audience, the respect of other comics and more significantly, the satisfaction of my own selfish nature. I’ll go days giving others the spotlight they seek, but when it’s my turn, when the spotlight is on me, when the words from the PA system say, “Please welcome to the stage, Omar Tarango!”, that is MY moment and I’ll be taking you on a ride you’ll be glad you got on. And when I’m done, all I want is to be remembered as the comic who deserved and earned your attention…

Hacks, Stealing Material and Carlos Mencia


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What is a hack comic? Simply put, it is a comic who chooses to use the “same old” topics that have been used over and over again by other comics in hopes of getting an easy laugh. All comics fall prey to this. It is the comic that recognizes the hack premises and immediately dumps them, that will eventually grow and succeed. It’s all part of the learning process. So, although it may be really easy to pick on the Kardashians, it is simply too overdone to continue doing it!

Many famous comics have been accused of stealing other comics’ material, and while I completely detest the practice, I have got to play the devil’s advocate on this. It used to really upset me when I heard, as most stand up comedy fans may have heard, that Carlos Mencia regularly steals jokes. The problem is, some of the jokes he was accused of stealing were jokes that were really easy for anybody to come up with! Does this mean he’s not a talented and funny comic? As a comic, I dissect the methods and strategies used by comics. For me, it is the comic that completely pulls me in unexpected directions, that I really admire and try to be like. I feel that’s the case for every audience when they have chosen to follow any comic of their liking.

Let’s get back to Mencia. As a comic, I recognize that Mencia has been performing for many years. He has performed in front of bar audiences, quiet and subdued audiences in charity events, audiences that were less than friendly, audiences that were more interested in drinking than to listen to the guy on stage with the mic, audiences that preferred to watch the sporting event on the bar’s TVs than to deal with the talking distraction in the spotlight, and other audiences too various to mention. He has endured the horrible experience of completely bombing on stage. He has had to endure the unrelenting heckling that can throw any comic off their game. He has offended people that did not understand his humor and those people have let him know about it. He has had to endure the negative comments of people around him that try to hold him back. He has even had to hear those same negative comments from those people he considered to be friends. He has put up with having to pay a fee to get himself on stage. He’s had to pay for his travel and finance his hotels before anyone knew or cared who he was.

Yet through all of this, audiences took notice. They liked him. They appreciated his humor. They wanted to hear more from him. He was THEIR comic! Do you think he did that by stealing jokes? Do you think he got there by being unoriginal and a hack? No. He didn’t. He put in the work and can now enjoy the fruits of his labor. To every comic that has reached that successful point in their stand up career, I salute them. They did it. Audiences are not stupid. They recognize original talent and they reward it with their undivided attention…

The Long and Winding Road


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In the world of Stand up Comedy, you can literally write tons of new material and maybe only a few of those jokes survive! I recently wrote 10 minutes of material and only 25 seconds of it made the final cut! It’s a long road, but the laughs are worth it!

I personally like to write down some of my material as a Facebook status update. Depending on the responses I get, I can gauge whether or not I want to keep working on them. The following are just a few of some of those status updates. Some of them have made it to my act and others are still sitting on the back burner. What I really enjoy about this process is that some of these bits will actually evolve into a great bit that only leads to other great bits. I hope you enjoy them! And remember, you can go to my Facebook fan page and ‘Like’ it to keep up with whatever I’m writing at the time….

 A new billboard sign in town reads, “You Text, You Drive, You Crash”. How about adding, “Reading Billboards Won’t Help Either.”

Found a condom wrapper in my teenage son’s backpack. I don’t know whether to be upset that he’s having sex at an early age or jealous that they’re Magnums.

“Why can’t I buy a car? Your commercial said you accept Bad Credit.”…”Yes sir, but you have crappy credit. You need to improve your score by 200 points to have Bad Credit.”

I have dreams of becoming famous. I also dream that a giant tomato eats me….

Big Brothers of America has canceled my participation. Apparently, my assigned little brother did not appreciate the teasing, wedgies or bullying.

Having a cold for longer than a few days can make a person so paranoid that they start thinking crazy stuff; “Crap, this is EXACTLY how Magic Johnson found out he was HIV positive…”

As a Christian, I know I’m not perfect. I believe in the rapture, but as a stupid teenager, I sure wish I hadn’t thought the things I did….(under my breath) “Please, please, please, don’t come for your people today. This girl thinks I’m YOU!”

I just now realized why the Flinstones were happily married for so long. Twin beds…

 

Love What You Do…


I saw a commercial once of 2 archeologists out in the middle of the desert. Braving what appeared to be intense heat, both men hid under a tent to get away from the sun. One of the men, looking exhausted and dripping with sweat, said to the other, “Man, I can’t wait to retire! How about you?” The other man looked up, smiled widely and said, “I AM retired…”

That’s what it’s all about! Doing what you LOVE. I’ve heard it said once like this, “If you do what you love, you can’t call it work.” – Author unknown to me-.

Currently, I work as a stock broker and although I love the world of investing, I don’t love my job. I am also a stand up comic, but I don’t make a living at that yet. I am still working on adding more time to my set and trying to move up the performance ladder, but that will certainly take some time. In the meantime, I still have bills to pay, so off to work I go! I am extremely thankful for the job I have though and I wouldn’t want to have to work anywhere else. But, I am certainly not looking tat staying here any longer than I have to. One day, I’m hoping the hard work and dedication I am putting into stand up comedy will pay off. I’m not looking for fame or fortune, just an opportunity to work doing what I love…

 

 

Nothing to Say!


I haven’t blogged in a while and have absolutely nothing to say! So here goes some of the randomness that goes through my head.

Men have an awkward way of sneaking a peek at the ‘goods’ that a woman displays while looking amazingly sexy! Take for example, a man who is introducing his date to another man, such as friend. That ‘friend’ can’t just ‘check out’ his friend’s date. It should be kept as simple eye contact and that’s it. But noooooo! That man has no control over what his eyes are doing! First, he’ll need to make sure he looks at his friend to make sure his friend is only temporarily distracted, then he has to glance at the eyes of the woman to make sure she’s not watching him, thennnnnnnn, he’ll sneak that peek at the goods! His eyes will momentarily cock over to the side just quick enough to make sure his friend doesn’t catch him and hopefully the woman won’t either! Ah, but this NEVER goes unnoticed by the friend! We know what the other guy is doing! Heck, WE do it too! But we let it pass…. It’s the bro code….

HECKLERS!!


One of the biggest fears for a beginning comic is how to deal with hecklers. For the most part, it is more difficult for a heckler to try to ruin a comedy show at an actual comedy club than at a bar. After all, people are paying their hard earned cash to be entertained but, give a person enough alcohol and anything is possible. I so desperately needed to learn how to deal with that type of disruption so, I hit the local bars to perform my stand up! There, I knew that the atmosphere was ripe for hecklers. I mean, people go to bars to drink, watch sports and cheat on their girlfriends, not to watch a stand up comedy show! Dealing with a heckler can be difficult because all that’s on a comics’ mind is to do their set and not screw anything up. Then, when you add a heckler in to the mix, it can throw any beginning comic right off their game! I won’t claim to know to much about the subject but I will admit that, I’ve sure shot down my share of hecklers in the funniest ways possible! Here are a few things to consider when dealing with this most annoying of species:

1.) Ignore it. Just like a comic, if their joke falls flat, they go into panic mode and would love nothing more than to rush through the rest of their set and get off the stage! The same is true for a heckler. The heckler is looking for attention and when their heckle falls flat, the last thing they want to do is to continue their poorly planned out attack.

2.) Let them say their piece. In fact, if you’re sure that not everyone had a chance to hear their heckle, give them another opportunity to repeat it. Ever try to repeat a joke to someone that wasn’t paying attention only to repeat it and not have the same affect? Same thing goes for this tactic. Let them repeat themselves and watch it fall flat! Then fire back with something well prepared for any occasion. “What was that?”–‘I said you suck!”– “Wow…thanks, dad.”

3.) Write a comeback. Any comeback. Preferably, one that will let you naturally go into your next joke. The comeback needs to be well written enough so that you can use it in almost any occasion. I, for example, have one aimed only at a woman heckler. Regardless of what she may say, I’ll fire back with:

“You ladies just gotta be the center of attention and CONTROL everything, don’t ya?” (That leads in to my divorce joke…”See? That’s why I’m divorced. But going through a divorce is brutal cuz my wife was EXTREMELY controlling! I’m just glad the divorce is over and I finally got my maiden name back.”

That not only brings a laugh, but it also gets the heckler on your side! If you can get the heckler to laugh then all is well with the world!

As I continue on this journey, I know I’ll only add to this list. As for now, this has gotten me by quite nicely.

How about you? How would you handle this? What have you seen other comics do that would prevent you from EVER uttering a peep at a comedy show? Your comments are more than welcomed!

WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!


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Getting started in stand up comedy is pretty much like being a kid again. You’re going to mess up and sometimes, you’re going to get scolded. In the six years I’ve been doing this, this has happened to me at least twice. I’ll share one of those experiences with you.  While opening at a well know comedy club, I ended my set too short. I was given 10 minutes, however, I never got the light, (every club gives the performer a light from the sound booth, when it’s time to wrap it up,) to end my set. Considering that I was still in the beginning stages of my stand up career, I didn’t exactly have more material than I had been rehearsing for, so the fact that I didn’t get the ‘light’, sent me into sort of a panic. Rather than stay on stage, I said thank you and went on to introduce the Feature performer for the night. Unfortunately, the owner had not been in the sound booth, which is the reason that he didn’t give me the ‘light’ so, the next comic had to go on stage with absolutely no intro music. I then left outside of the showroom where the owner greeted me with not so kind words. I didn’t want to admit to him that I had completed my set and had run out of material to use so, I simply stood there and got an earful!  I should have been prepared with more though. I did have other stuff I could have used but, I had not rehearsed it and it certainly wasn’t immediately available in my mind while on stage.

A quick word of wisdom, to any beginning comic out there; Always be prepared with enough material to fill the amount of minutes you are given. Do NOT plan to go over that BUT, always, ALWAYS, have a few more minutes ready to go should the owner, sound guy or manager not be ready to give you the ‘light’! Hey, for all you know, you might be getting more time because you’re simply killing it out there! Before too long, you’ll be wishing you would always get more time!