Try To Stop Saying These Things


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Have you ever had a conversation with someone and all of a sudden, you begin to notice some of the repetitive words or phrases they continue to use? For example, you continuously keep hearing the other person starting their sentences with the phrase, “I mean”. “I mean, that’s how I feel about it. I mean, am I wrong? I mean, what would you do?”

Is it me, or is this not noticeable to the masses? Does any sentence need to start that way? If the thought is going to your brain, then to your vocal cords, then to your mouth, then audibly out of your mouth, I believe the assumption is that this must be what you “mean”, isn’t it? Must you preface your statement with the phrase, “I mean”? I mean, right? It seems like such a waste of words. Is this perhaps, the comedian side of me thinking this way? After all, brevity in comedy is everything. The shorter the distance from the set up to the punchline, the more laughs per minute I’ll get. I feel this way about the words, “Well” and “So”, or “Look” to start a sentence. Don’t get me wrong, I do this too, but I annoy myself every time I do it. I think I need help. I mean, do you think I need help?

How about this one? “In my opinion…” I hate using that one, but I use it a lot. I think it is fair to say that anything I say, that is not backed up by discernible facts, is my opinion, so why state the obvious? Maybe it needs to be stated so that the other person doesn’t fire back with, “Well, that’s your opinion.” Of course it’s my opinion! It came out of my mouth and originated from my very own brain, thank you very much! And why do you have to start your sentence with, “Well”? Just tell me it’s my opinion and be done with it.

Well, I’hope I’ve confused you all enough. Look, I only say things to entertain. I mean, that’s what I do, right? So, I guess that’s it? You can stop reading now.

Dating in El Paso, Texas


The last girl I dated was a stay at home mom. Her ankle bracelet didn’t let her go more than 10 feet away from her house.

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You Will Never Be An Overnight Success


Not getting the recognition, as a stand up comedian, that you think you deserve? Are you only hosting shows but think you should have a shot of featuring or even headlining? Or maybe, you’ve only had an opportunity to perform at open mic’s but think you should be given an opportunity at hosting a professional show? Let’s face it, we’ve all felt like this at one point or another. In 8 years, I’ve learned that when you think you’re ready to host and emcee a show, you’re really not. When you think you’re ready to feature, you’re really only ready to be an opener. When you think you’re ready to headline, you’re probably only scratching the surface at featuring. What a business, huh? How in the world can you ever know that you’re ready for anything? What can you do to get the attention of bookers or club owners? Well, I hope this blog will help shed some light on that.

I believe that the best judge on the matter lies squarely with the person that booked you or the club owner that has given you an opportunity on their stage. Look at them as the judge and the audience as the jury. The jury may render it’s verdict, but the judge has the last word on what happens from there. I have known a lot of comics who have not been patient enough to let a club owner or booker decide when they are ready to allow for the next step to be taken. Often times, the comic will jump ship and look for opportunities elsewhere, however, the process is then repeated at a new club or venue. As for me, I’ve decided to never take for granted any stage that has been offered to me. I have been told things like, “I don’t think you’re strong enough to bump one of our regular features”, or “I’m not ready to put my name out on the line for you just yet”, or “You can open here, but not feature.” Tough things to hear, but these words didn’t just come from people who didn’t know what they were doing. These were club owners who have a business to run. These are business owners that put their reputation on the line every time they bring a comic to town to work their stage. They’ve been in the business longer than I have. I was angry each and every time I heard these type of things said to me and many of these words were uttered to me as recently as this year! But guess what? I’m still getting the bookings. I’m still getting on these stages. And more importantly, I am still making fans along the way.

Two weeks ago, I had an opportunity to feature at the club I started at, The Comedy Spot in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not only did I have friends and family come out and support me, I had some new fans who saw my videos on YouTube, drive over 80 miles to attend the show! Both of my sets, one for an early show and one for a late show, went amazingly well. It seemed like I was getting applause breaks during every bit! The laughs were through the roof! At the end of the night, the owner presented me with an opportunity to headline a “One Night Only” event in October. I have featured at this club for the past 3 years and am now getting an opportunity to take my career a step further. Three years ago, I was featuring at this same club for 3 nights. Then, because my self promotion was not bringing out my supporters often enough, I was cut back to 2 nights and finally to only 1 night. I didn’t complain, (at least not out loud). I know that it is my responsibility to promote my appearances and bring people out to see me. If I can’t do that, how am I ever going to create a fan base? And, why would a club owner or booker want to book me on their shows? I’m not a household name. I’ve got no Tv or movie credits. I’ve never appeared on a Comedy Central show. So, why would I expect to get those type of premium bookings? I was lucky enough to hold on to at least 1 night! Since I was cut back to 1 night, I continued to post videos on YouTube, I continued to write new material and I continued to plug along despite feeling that I deserved more.

I’ve said this many times, “It’s going to take years.” I’m not talking about 2 or 3 or even 10 years. I’m talking about 12 to 15 years or more, before you can have a stand up comedy career worth talking about! I don’t live in L.A. or New York, where the comedy scene is booming, and although the local comedy scene in my hometown is a small one, it at least guarantees me 3 to 5 open mic opportunities on a weekly basis. In addition, I have a regular hosting gig at the El Paso Comic Strip, which is the only comedy club in town. It may take me longer than 12 to 15 years to get my career to where I am a “working comic”, (A full time stand up comedian), but I’m willing to hang around as long as it takes, even if my material goes from talking about raising kids to talking about the size of my prostate.

To all my fellow comics out there, hang in there and keep plugging along. Even if we don’t make it one day, we can all say that there was a time when we “Had them laughing.”

Anyone can be a comic, but it takes years to be a comedian.

Humility With a Name Like “Iggy”


I don’t consider myself a professional stand up comic yet. I’ve been in the business for 7 years now, and in that time have earned well over…six hundred bucks. I know a little more than the comic who has done it for a less amount of time but I have a TON more to learn.

Comics are self centered. Some comics won’t even take advice from others and certainly not from comedians who haven’t been in the game too long. Sure, we would all like to get advice from people like Louie CK or Jerry Seinfeld or Ralphie May, but those opportunities may never present themselves. There have been times where another comic will ask me for advice and I’m only happy to share it. I may not know a lot about stand up but what I do know, it is my pleasure to share.

Two years ago, I saw a guy perform  at an open mic. The guy killed and had great jokes! None of them were hack and I could tell that the guy knew how to actually write material. He not only got the laughs, he did it in front of a bar audience. There is no tougher crowd than that! After the show, I went up to the new comic and asked him how long he had been doing stand up. He responded with, “This was my first time.” That floored me. I had to give credit where credit was due. I told him, “If you can do that at a bar, (make them laugh) you will kill them at a comedy club.”

Since then, I have been working with him at other bar shows and events around town. In that time, he has never thought that he was more than he was. He has remained humble and committed to the stand up craft. He will often times ask me for advice and I share things with him that seem mundane but are such an intricate part of the business. The best thing a fellow comic can do is help pave the way for those that are treading on ground that they’ve already walked on. I’m not “Headlining” material yet, but I have Emcee’d shows and I have Featured at comedy clubs, and the things I’ve learned are things that others have taught me. In this profession, everyone wants to stand out above the rest with little to no help, while others realize that to stand up above the rest can only happen when you help others to do so as well. That is quite a contrarian way of thinking, but it has it’s purpose.

This week, the comic I’ve been writing about will Emcee for his very first time at The El Paso Comic Strip. This will be his first professional gig. He has been working his set at all the local open mics, at bars, at school gymnasiums, at restaurants, at private parties, at charity events, at coffee houses, you name it! He has earned this opportunity not just by being funny, but by humbling himself to the advice of others.

He refers to me as his “mentor”, but he has been my mentor as much as he considers me his. I’ve learned from him just as much as he’s learned from me. Ask for his advice and he will be quick to invite you over to his house for beer and a joke writing session. I’ll be there on his first opening night and I will be there for his first Feature appearance and I will be front and center at his first Headlining spot.

Congratulations, Iggy! Kill em’!

How Many People Do You Need to Have a Good Stand Up Comedy Show?


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The answer to the title of this blog is, six. Yup, that’s all you need. At least, that’s all I needed.  Last night was my Headlining debut at a local El Paso, Texas bar called Coconuts. The promoter has run that show for over 3 years now, every week on Tuesdays. For the most part, the place is typically full of people on Tuesday’s Comedy Nights. On this night particular night, however, the NBA playoffs were going on and a well known rock group was in town to perform at another venue. The bar had at least half the size that we had grown accustomed to. As the NBA games were finishing and as showtime approached, the place got a little emptier. The show, however, must still go on.

Our host for the evening took to the stage and did his best to set the mood. He immediately had to deal with a drunk heckler who was relentless in shouting out what she thought of the show so far. Our host dealt with the distraction well enough to move on. By the time he introduced the first comic, more people were beginning to leave. Our first comic did his thing and plugged along despite very little reaction from a crowd that seemed distant and unamused. Like the professional that he is, he earned his laughs and never wavered from doing what he has been perfecting for so long. The comic ended his set with a smile on his face and left a few smiles in his wake. The seats, however got a little more empty.

Our feature and promoter then took to the stage and took complete control, as he has always been able to do. This was his room. He had tamed this room every Tuesday night, every week, for 3 years and has perfected the task. On this night, considering that the crowd had now dwindled down to six people, he finished his set quicker than usual and got off the stage leaving a good vibe in the room. Now, it was the Headliner’s turn…me.

By the time my slot came up, there was absolutely no one sitting in the tables in front of the stage. Several other local comics had shown up and occupied the stools at the end of bar and were doing their own thing. I never count them as audience members anyway. After all, they’ve only heard my jokes over a 100 times. Along the front of the bar were six people; two couples and a pair of buddies who had been there for the entire show. Before I was introduced by the host, I grabbed the mic stand off the stage and placed it right in front of the bar in the area where all the empty seats were. If the front of the stage was to be empty, I was going to move the stage to an area of the bar that wasn’t. I had no opening joke. There was no need for one. I simply started out by saying, “I’m performing for you six people today. Ignore the guys at the end of the bar. They are all comics and don’t give a crap about what I’m going to say so, let’s see who we’ve got left? We’ve got a couple here at the end. Are you all a couple or just touching pee pee’s? Oh, hooking up? So, you found each other on Craigslist or Mocospace? Cool. How about this other couple? Oh, married five years? Wait, your husband just got out of prison after two years, so you’ve technically been married for three years? Were you married to some dude in prison or was your lady here really patient? And here we have our third couple. I see that you are sitting next to each other with a “buffer” stool in between, so you’re not gay, right? You know, this place only has one urinal and no “buffer” urinal? It made it very awkward when I went in there and peed at the same urinal with another dude that was in there. I think he left?”

None of these lines were comedy gold by any means, and most of it was hack, but we were all having a conversation and, rather than heckle, they were all having a conversation right back with me. Every now and then, they would mention something that led me right in to one of my prepared jokes and the whole thing seemed like I was thinking it up right on the spot! It took a few minutes, but before you knew it, all six of them were laughing hysterically! After about fifteen minutes I said, “I think this would be a good time to end the show.” They didn’t let me. They actually said, “No, no! Keep going, keep going!” So, I kept going… for the first time in my seven years of doing stand up comedy, I had reached my audience on a personal level. One of the six had just gotten out of prison, one claimed to have been a stripper, one was unemployed, one was there just to “hook up”, one was there as the patient prison wife and the other was a computer programmer enjoying the laughs. I had gotten to know each of these individuals in the way a comic usually doesn’t get a chance to. That night, I was their friend and they were mine. And they let me talk. They let me perform. They let me entertain them.

They did more for me than I could have ever done for them. They laughed with me…

Omar’s Patreon Site. Pledge your support!

Think Classy, You’ll Be Classy


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“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you’re a slob.” – Kevin Costner as “Crash Davis” in the movie “Bull Durham”.

This is perhaps one of my favorite movie lines of all time. In context, Kevin Costner’s character has been given the task of mentoring a young pitcher in baseball’s minor leagues. Crash Davis often teaches young “Luke ‘Nuke’ Laloosh”, played by Tim Robbins, lessons about life and how those lessons are vital to a successful baseball career. In this scene, Crash calls to attention the pitcher’s slob laden approach to his hygiene and appearance.

I believe stand up comics can take this lesson to heart as well. At least, I do. I have always made it a practice to look my very best when I have been booked for a show that will be presented in front of a paying audience. It has become quite the norm to watch comics take to the stage appearing as though they just got off their couch wearing clothing that seemed like an after thought. I am not suggesting that one should dress up in a suit and tie to tell jokes on stage as though appearing on the old Johnny Carson Show. What I am saying is that we need to make an effort to put our best foot forward when performing in front of a live, ticket paying audience. This allows you to appeal to as many of their senses as possible.  Through out the night, you will have the opportunity to appeal to 4 of the audiences 5 senses, (I don’t see how it would be possible to have them taste you, unless things get pretty wild), and the better impression you make on each of their senses, the more they are likely to remember you.

A few weeks ago, I attended an open mic, here in El Paso, Texas. I was wearing a very loose t-shirt and a pair of shorts. I hadn’t shaved in a few days and I looked rather raggedy. I have always dressed up for all of my paid performances, but this was an open mic, so I really thought is was no big deal. Right before I took the stage, I noticed two individuals walk in to the bar. I recognized one of them as the headliner appearing at the local comedy club that week. A comedian from L.A., he had recently appeared on Conan O’brien and was currently embarking on a national tour across the country as a nationally known “Headliner”. The fellow he was with, I assumed was his feature performer, who was also performing at the comedy club all week.

I went on stage and had a great set. I even noticed that my material was even making the L.A. comics laugh. At the end of the night, I made my usual rounds of the tables, thanking all of those that attended and gave us their attention. I really wanted to meet the L.A. star and just shake his hand, but I was intercepted by the other guy that walked in with him. He went on to tell me how I had impressed him and his friend so much during my set. Although they came to watch an open mic show and expected to see the same type of “hacky” material that typically accompanies such shows, they were pretty impressed at the originality of my set. He then said the following: “If you ever go to L.A., I think you would do great, but let me give you a little advice. When you appear on stage, try to look your best. Bookers and agents are looking for talent all of the time, but they are also looking for talent that they can market. They want to see comics that are pleasing to the eye. When they see someone like you who has talent and looks good, they will be lining up to offer you the fruits of your labor.” I thanked him for the great advice and completely forgot about meeting the “Headliner”. I don’t think I could have asked for better feedback!

Check out the Bull Durham clip below!

Get It Done!


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Mike Tyson was the youngest Heavyweight Champion of the World at the age of 20. His past may have overshadowed his career, but I’ll never forget what he said when asked why he gets up at 4am every day to run. His reply, “Because I know the other guy is not doing it…”

Give Me Your 2¢


As a comic, I want to get noticed by the public. After all, my success is determined by the following I can create more so than how funny I am. Don’t get me wrong, I still have to bring the funny, but more importantly, I need to reach the people that actually care! If a comedian tells a joke and no one is around to hear it, is the still joke funny?

Anyway, I want your help on this. When you watch a comic on TV or youtube or CD or see them on social networks like Facebook, what do you look for?

What keeps you interested?
How long of a chance will you give a comic before you change the channel?
What immediately turns you away from listening to a comic?
If a comic has their own web site, how are you hoping to be entertained there?

Tell me anything and everything that you think would be helpful.  
 

Thanks!!