By: Justin Tuttle | Twitter: @tuttlecomedy | Posted: March 25th, 2015
I went to the Jukebox Comedy Club in Peoria this weekend to watch a nationally touring headliner perform his new hour that will be recorded and released somewhere down the road.
If you are trying to improve at comedy, this is something you NEED to do.
"I don't know the headliner." "I'm not a fan." "I don't like his style of comedy." These are all moot points.
Watching a respected comic work out his next hour in front of a comedy club audience is a great learning experience that everyone in the area should be taking. Watch what he does. Figure out what you like, or even don't like, and apply it to yourself.
You will learn just as much (if not more) by watching successful comics work on the road than you will performing your own material at an open mic.
I'm not saying you should go to any one specific show. There is a constant stream of great headliners going through the area on a weekly basis.
Most of all, getting outside of Champaign and just experiencing a different comedy scene will help you. I recommend the Jukebox in Peoria, not only because I'm familiar with it, but also because it's such a comic friendly environment.
The main players there (Joe Roderick, Drift Roberts, and Jeff Bailey) are incredibly cool people who are welcoming and helpful to anyone who shows a genuine interest in stand up. Dan Conlin, the owner, is also fair about stage time. If you go to the open mics and weekend shows, get a consistent reaction, and put forth the effort - - - he WILL notice.
I know traveling, gas money, and ticket prices can add up. But find a few like minded people to ride with, and talk about comedy the whole way there. It will be worth the expense.
DON'T talk about "how comedy should be" or "how this guy sucks and I'm better than him." (Even though shit-talking is a highly entertaining time killer). DON'T just spit your material out and ask for tags, and then shit on the person for the tag they offer. (Again, that can also be fun.)
Use the time stuck in a car together to actually listen to the other person and maybe (gasp) improve your act. Correct some bad habits. Create a scenario about being on stage and then bounce ideas on how to handle it. The only thing that can come from this is bettering not just yourself, but also the local scene.
I don't have a big ending for this, so - - - GO TEAM GO! Or something. I don't know. You're a creative person. Supply your own ending.