Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On Baccarat And Self-Flagellation...

.:Baccarat Night Part 1 @Newport City:.

This won’t be a picture-laden post, but it will have to suffice to convey just how stoked I was about the Newport City’s orientation night last week, as we were taken last Wednesday to get acquainted with the huge undertaking happening at what used to be the place for our culmination ROTC activities, what used to be Villamor Airbase.

Having said that, this very ambitious project is shaping up very nicely, what with an actual school that trains its employees in skillsets including cooking, and casino gaming. Needless to say, being taken on a tour of their school building was already impressive as is, but seeing the plans they had for their actual hotels and casinos really just floored me.

I was impressed, and even if I’m not a gambling man, I know I’d like to see the finished product for the sheer spectacle of it. This looks to be the closest thing to Vegas the Philippines will get to have, and you know the love affair stage performers such as myself have with Vegas...

Well, I’ll be back there soon, and I’m excited for it. I had a decent run at the Baccarat tables that night, albeit we weren’t playing with real money. Something tells me I wouldn’t be nearly as sporting if it were my money on the table... heh.

.:The Quest For Improvement Continues...:.

Last 09 June was Mike Unson’s birthday, and it was an awesome showcase of comedy that night at Toyz Cafe as the open mic night happened with more than your average number of standup comedians giving it a go there.

I had an okay set, albeit surprisingly, my usual antics as a comedy magician might actually count as more risqué than the limits I have to work with in standup, as the rope routine apparently got some raised eyebrows. Nonetheless, as I am here to learn and to improve, I’m taking the advice I’ve been getting to heart, and if that means overhauling my personal style when I’m in this setting, then so be it. This is a whole new ballgame, I admittedly don’t know as much about it as I know about magic, but I’m willing to learn, and that’s one of the most important things to consider.

My thanks to Stanley, who’s been playing mentor to me, as well as the other comedians like Noel and Richie, Trian and Raffy, whose inputs, ideas, and suggestions, I always listen to. These guys know what they’re doing, so it’s great being able to learn from the people who have blazed the trail in the Philippines for observational point-of-view standup comedy. I’ve never been one to take criticism negatively, so the points for improvement that they brought up over my past month and a half of trying to do standup has been nothing but helpful, especially as I attempt to write new material with these principles and guidelines in mind to uphold the standard.

When I did standup for Nomer’s show last Thursday, I was already getting an idea that surprisingly enough, my approach at comedy and even magic may be too edgy for the average audience, as I saw myself second-guessing some of my punchlines because of the kids present during the mentalism show. Nonetheless, I also realized it has a lot to do with the way I carry myself, that swagger or gravitas that seems to make people view me, even stereotype me in a certain way.

I realized recently that people see me as a very prim and proper person: the kind of guy who minds his p’s and q’s, and has a certain air of detachment that makes me at best, this guy with an unflappable air around him, or at worst, a total square. Either way, these initial expectations people get from seeing me alone tend to be broken once I get into my act.

I’ve patterned myself in magic after Michael Finney and Penn and Teller. These guys have a way of joking around that does not suit the “square” stereotype at all. If anything, it goes in the completely opposite direction: boorish, albeit still pretending to be classy humor. Sardonic, perhaps even macabre, at times, but certainly not something you expect from someone who looks like an authority figure when he goes up onstage.

That being said, what this means to me is that what others may find inoffensive from other performers, they could very well find terribly offensive when it comes from me.

The trick is... now that I know these expectations, how do I play with these expectations and break them without offending the audience’s sensibilities? To be honest, I don’t know the answer right now, but I’m willing to find out in time.

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