Monday, June 28, 2010

10 Stand-Up Comedy Home Runs

So you want to do stand up comedy? Hold it right there. You can't just dive in and expect to be hilarious. You’re going to have to learn a few things first, then you'll be hilarious and swatting balls out of the park rapid-fire like the best of them at your local comedy club. Once you know these simple stereotypes, you’ll be good to go with a solid twenty minutes of killer material guaranteed to make audiences fall out of their chairs.

1. Indian people are typically the ones you will speak to when seeking help over the phone for a problem with your computer.
2. The parents of Asian-Americans have shrill, grating voices, and are traditionally hard working and try to push their children against their will into the math, science, or engineering trades. (Note: While an impression of the voice is an 80% guaranteed laugh, if you are not Asian-American you run the risk of being perceived as a racist.)
3. Black people are treated poorly by the police. Generally, the black people/law enforcement relationship is a tense one.
4. Married people despise their spouses. If you are married, start over-analyzing everything your significant other does and says until you magnify every flaw to billboard-size, until you hate her or him. Then let the jokes roll.
5. Parents hate their children. If you have children and enjoy them, start deliberately doing things you know they will interrupt, so you can become pissed off and, eventually, hilarious.
6. If you are overweight, disabled, or a member of a minority group, make fun of yourself as much as possible. Vicious, hurtful, racist things that had someone who is not a member of that minority group said would be considered incredibly offensive. Sure, the people are laughing at you because you’re different, but a laugh’s a laugh, am I right?
7. Facebook and text messaging are currently the only things audience members under the age of twenty-five can relate to. Try to focus on these topics. Popular subjects include accidentally text messaging the wrong a person and obsessively reading an ex-lover’s Facebook page.
8. If none of the above tips apply to anything that happens in your life, feel free to completely make up the things you claim happened to you. If the waitstaff has done their job, the audience will be too drunk to notice or care about your lies.
9. When it comes to stories, they always happened to you no more than 24 hours ago. Either last night, this morning, or on the way to the club. Be aware that these stories never actually happened at those times. It’s a safety concern, because the drunk audiences will likely revolt if you reveal to them that you’ve been telling the same jokes at every performance for the last five years.
10. Funny names are always in. If you’re on stage and in a bind for a big laugh, look around the room, pick an object, and do a bit about how funny it would be if you named your child that. For example, shoelace. Then you can do a whole thing about celebrities naming their children strange things, because that’s a topic that has worked for decades, so why wouldn’t it work tonight?

"You Do the Rest"

An excerpt from You Do the Rest, the new book from Milton Fitz, Hollywood’s favorite joke set-up writer.

I was having computer trouble the other day so I called up customer service and requested some help with my modem.

You ever wonder why it takes so long to be seated in a Chinese restaurant?

These days kids are so distracted by technology. Just yesterday my daughter said to me, “Dad, can I get a second cell phone?”

This morning I brushed my teeth backwards.

I hate going to the dentist.

I went to get a library card last week and they asked to see a valid form of identification.

My wife’s cooking is so bad.

My mother in law stayed at my house last weekend. I let her sleep in the guest bedroom.

I was raised Jewish in the suburbs.

Just the other day my brother said to me, “We should plan a family reunion.”

All these plus many more perfect set-ups in You Do the Rest, coming to bookstores this autumn. And look for Milton's one-man show Just the Straight Man, the hysterical comedy in which Milton only wrote dialogue for the straight-man, touring the nation beginning in August.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Neighborhoods"

The Brentwood City Council meeting was to start at seven p.m. Chief Councilman Dennis Frank checked his watch. Six fifty-nine and the house was barely half-full. He took a sip of vodka from his Diet Mountain Dew bottle and stared at the folding chairs in front of him. At least Darlene had shown up. Chief Councilman Dennis Frank had something to stare at for the next minute.

“Well, it looks like this is going to be it. Thank you all for coming.”
There were ten. Most were staring at their cell phones. One guy in the back looked new. Maybe thirty years old, with glasses and a briefcase. His shirt was ruffled out of his belt and his hair was a mess.

“Let’s get down to it, okay? First order of business is to approve the names of the three new neighborhood developments off Vine Street. Richman Developers have proposed the following names. Please state any objections. They are Crestview, Holly Oaks, and Nutsack Harbor.”

Darlene’s hand shot up. She drawled, “I’m sorry, what was that last one? Did I hear you right?”

Dennis Frank squinted at his notes. “Nutsack Harbor. The third one was Nutsack Harbor.”

“Absolutely not! We cannot have such ribald slang filth naming our neighborhoods.”

“Okay, one objection for Nutsack Harbor. Do you propose an alternative?”

“How about something nice and actually named for something in that area? There’s not even a harbor over there. Something like Finley Creek?”

“Okay, noted. Thanks, Darlene. Anyone else?”

The young man in the back raised his sweaty hand. “Yeah, I’ve got some.”

“I believe you’re new. Would you mind standing and introducing yourself?”

“Sure. Hi, I’m Alan Green, new resident. I have a problem with the first two names. There are subdivisions named Crestview and Holly Oaks in Sussex, only twenty minutes away.”

“Good point, Mr. Green. Do you propose alternatives?”

“Yes, sir. I think the names Dicklickers Alley and Fart-Shit Breeze would be welcome.”

“Dicklickers Alley and Fart-Shit Breeze?”

“Yes sir. I believe they are a welcome twist to the mundane neighborhood names we’ve come to accept. Why have more of the same when we can bring something new to the world?”

Darlene was not pleased. “But there isn’t a dicklickers alley or a fart-shit breeze over there.”

“Not yet. Once we name the subdivisions, they will be magnets for dicklickers and fart-shits, respectively. I’m certain, and I have the figures to prove it in my briefcase, that within one fiscal year, there will be no only a half-mile alley packed with dicklickers ready and willing to do their business, but also a pungent, northerly fart-shit breeze daily at 6p.m. And if we stick to the original plan and also approve Nutsack Harbor, in less than eight months there will be a beautiful harbor packed full of good-looking, taut nutsacks. We can build a boardwalk, open up some restaurants, and make it a family entertainment destination.”

The council members looked to each other with raised eyebrows. One elderly woman wearing a World’s Coolest Grandma t-shirt she bought for herself nodded and shrugged her shoulders. That echoed over to Don Henry, a fat man with no feet. Then over to Bernard Fitz and Susan Thirlby. Soon everyone was nodding in agreement, then standing on their chairs, whooping and applauding, ripping their shirts off and dancing. They agreed with what this man proposed. It was time for a change. It was time to mix things up a little bit. To break free from their routines and everyday lives for once.

Darlene crossed her arms and shook her head.

Chief Councilman Dennis Frank stared at Darlene’s chest.

Six months later Dicklickers Alley, Fart-Shit Breeze, and Nutsack Harbor were built. They were not popular with home buyers.