By Graham Techler and Glennis LaRoe
A comedy show is like a church service, and, like a church service, there are ground rules. One: comedy shows should be bookended on one end by “applause” and on the other by “cheering.”
You applaud the performers when they get on stage for simply existing, but after they’ve finished performing their comedy, they have done more than just exist, so you should up your appreciation for them, commensurately. It’s not just fair, it’s a rule.
Two: get off your phone during the show! I know that as soon as a performer gets on stage you immediately want to look at the funny tweets they’re churning out on a day-to-day basis. A minute-to-minute basis, really. I know. I do too. But as the performers are on stage performing in the show, they logistically can’t juggle performing and tweeting at the same time. It just wouldn’t work. I know that’s why you want to look at your phone, but I hope those days will soon be far behind you.
Three: you can’t talk or whisper to each other during the show, for one simple reason: the audience is filled with agents and managers, who nightly scour the city’s comedy shows in search of the next Janeane Garofalo. You won’t know they’re there, because agents and managers are like reverse cops: if you ask, they don’t have to tell you they’re an agent. Or a manager!
Four: certain things are really very funny, but we don’t expect you to know about them right away. Take my screenplay, for example.
On page 45 of my screenplay—the “fun and games” section—Madeline (30s, adorable but also hot) is finally going on that blind date with Austin (30s, awkward but also hot). Madeline comes back from the bathroom, where, thanks to the habanero put in her sandwich by her mischievous babysitting ward Eliza, she has been stricken with fiery movements.
As she returns to the table, we are treated to the following exchange.
“AUSTIN: What happened? Did you fall in?”
“MADELINE: [under her breath] Something did.”
This is an example of a very funny thing. If you don’t feel that way right now, that’s okay, but I’d encourage you to spend some time tonight thinking about why it just is. If you still don’t feel that that was funny, comedy shows might not be for you.
You’ll hopefully see many different kinds of comedy up here tonight. Such as physical comedy, as on page 70, when Madeline is struck by a falling clock. There’s also dark comedy, as on page 12, when Madeline’s ironic miscarriage kicks off our story! You may even get a little “anti-comedy,” which is when something’s so unfunny that is goes all the way around and becomes unfunny.
The fifth and final ground rule I’d like to impart before leaving is this: many of you didn’t know this before coming here tonight, but there’s sort of an unspoken agreement that at the end of the comedy show, somebody in the audience buys a screenplay.
It could be any screenplay that comes up over the course of the night, but—and many of you first-timers may not have known this—the show can’t really end until something gets optioned. With that in mind:
Would you like to buy my screenplay. Would you like to buy my screenplay. Would you like to buy my screenplay. Would you like to buy my screenplay. Would you like to buy my screenplay. Would you like to buy my screenplay. Would you like to buy my screenplay. Would you like to buy my screenplay.
Great, do you have 300,000 dollars?
Okay. You guys are a lost cause. Enjoy the show.