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Jun 06, 2021

▦ 9 → Hip Pocketing

by: Shahruz Shaukat

1. Brody Stevens Story

There was a charity show at the Laugh Factory for the charity of a major Hollywood agency. The audience was all agents who were forced to go there by their work on a Tuesday night...

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

2. Industry crowds are notoriously bad anyway. They watch comedy all day and they’re numb to it. Also these people were here by force and it was a week night. Six amazing comics who you have heard of bombed hard one after the other...

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

3. Comics upstairs were whispering “this crowd is impossible. No one can get a laugh here.”

Side note (Important to the story) : Agents have a term called “hip pocketing” meaning representing someone without really signing them.

Brody Stevens goes up an hour into the show.

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

4. Brody goes up to a mix of silence and perfunctory weak claps. He plants his feet, makes direct eye contact with the most bored looking agent in the front row. He starts fierce, “you think I’m intimidated by an industry crowd?”

Right to the guy he goes “I hip pocket YOU”

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

5. The place erupts. Brody found the exact fault line in the tension of the room. He goes on “I HAVE HEADSHOTS. Eleven by seventeen! They stand out in a pile!” “I WORK IN THIS TOWN. I just booked an extra part in a stadium scene. I generate BUZZ.” The agents are howling.

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

6. The comics upstairs are fidgeting now. So sure they had been that this was a cold room where laughter is impossible and there’s Brody downstairs absolutely KILLING. Everything they had said before was a comforting lie. And not only did Brody kill...

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

7. EVERYONE AFTER HIM DID. Brody had found the exact pressure point that would relieve the tension in the audience. He aimed a precision karate chop at it and broke it for the rest of the show. He turned those stuffy agents into a regular crowd there to laugh...

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

8. He gave that gift to every comic that came after him that night. That’s why he was such a master at warming up TV shows. He simply refused to accept that audience could not be made to laugh and he threw every thought and instinct he had at that problem until it was solved..

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

9. And after he had cracked it, it stayed solved until the show was over. He hit the funny bone like he was doing accupuncture. He was a true master. He will be greatly missed. /end

— John Roy (@JohnRoycomic) February 22, 2019

𖨆 // Didn't have any plans with this post but ended up initially focusing on standup. An earlier version of it included a thread of videos showing unique situations between standup comics and their audiences. How to handle bombing a set, dealing with hecklers, doing crowdwork, etc.

I ended up taking all of that out except this thread because it felt like it showed something more interesting more concisely.

The idea of "breaking" an audience by doing something that takes everyone out of one context and into a new one that's more enjoyable for everyone, and the idea it could be done so directly.

And the idea that warming up an audience (as opposed to headlining or being the main act that people are there to see) could be treated like its own necessarily field with a different set of goals and constraints that someone could have a mastery of.

"Make every single person in the room laugh no matter what" requires a different approach than what you'd do if you were just trying to get a Netflix special.

🕊 Where to next?

▦ 10   →   Governance