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How to Make Hosting Fun!

Posted on: January 16th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

As artists evolve, sometimes they need something more in order to enjoy performing certain tasks. Hosting a comedy show is no exception.

There’s a hierarchy to Canadian comedy. The times vary depending on the club, bu you’ll get the idea. Besides the initial grind, you’re first weekend spot will be just that. A short, six to eight minute spot. If that goes well, you might split-middle, or middle and do anywhere from 10-12 minutes. You climb that success ladder up to a FULL middle! Then you’re doing 20 minutes of your best dick jokes. After that you’re promoted to MC, or host. This is incredibly important and a lot of people forget that.

When you host a show, you’re basically the head coach. You’re the Phil Jackson to the Michael Jordan (headliner.) You’re in charge of the show, you dictate how it runs, what should be done, and you make sure the stage is set properly for the headliner. It’s kind of a selfless job, but that’s what I like about it.

About five years ago, I became very bored of hosting. The usual, “Is anybody celebrating anything” was becoming boring. That all changed at a gig in a town nobody has heard of, populated only by those over 90. Not exactly my key demo. I frantically was looking over my notes, my jokes, my thoughts on anything that would appeal to the audience I was faced with. Then it just “clicked.”

Nothing. I went up with nothing. I put my book away and stopped thinking about it entirely. Sure, there’s a bit of a formula to being a good host, (i.e. Introducing the show and the headliner right off the top, get the crowd clapping, do a quick joke, go into crowd work, etc.) but that doesn’t mean you need to plan every single thing you’re going to say. I went up with nothing. I just talked with them. I was honest, and had fun. And in turn, they had fun. Jokes were coming off naturally, and without me forcing jokes about drinking in a nightclub on them.

Now, hosting a show has become fun again. I will usually have an idea of what I’m going to say to start a show, but that’s it. Tonight at Absolute Comedy in Toronto, I did just that, and it was a lot of fun. I got to watch some great comics. Some new, some have been around a while, even a pro, plus the headliner. And if you’re in the moment, paying attention to the acts, the audience will recognize that. I just played. I would throw a one liner, or a thought or idea that came to me from what another comic had said previous, and the spontaneity makes it more enjoyable for not only the audience, but also myself.

There are a TON of fantastic hosts in Canadian comedy; too many to list. I suggest you look them up. And usually the best headliners also make great hosts. This isn’t to toot my own horn. Hell, I’m a decade into stand up comedy and that’s still considered new! I’m just saying, sometimes you need to find a way to enjoy your work, even if you’re hating it. Find the aspect you DO like, and focus your energy on that. Great things happen!

Barbercide: Life on the Street

Posted on: January 15th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

Sometimes, when you’re a man and you get a haircut, you almost have no choice of what to get. It’s like a landlord in a paint store; you’re getting one thing, and one thing only. Today was no exception

I went to get a haircut. I had no appointment, which to a barber apparently means you don’t have to try as hard. Because who would ever want repeat business? I should mention that the place I went to is usually great. I’ve been there a few times, and always had a great cut. Except for this guy.

The back of my neck looks like it was bullied in high school. Covered in cuts. He was a rather oddly shaped gentleman. He was a skinny build, but had a gut on him. Almost as though he stored barbicide in his stomach. He also had the worst hair out of anyone that worked there. A middle aged man with short, black hair that was gelled heavier than the insole of an obese man’s New Balances.

He asked what I wanted and I told him to trim the sides down quite short, and then just trim the top. Maybe texturize it a bit. You see, I have very thick hair, so if I don’t do that, it looks like an afro. He asked if I wanted something like a fauxhawk. And I said, “No! No fauxhawks ever!” When he asked what I wanted, it was merely a formality. Either that or he heard, “Fauxhawks forever!” Why do barber’s even ask, if they’re just going to cut your hair however they want to in the first place? I’d prefer it if they just said, “Sit down, I’m gonna do whatever I want to your head.”

He styled my hair in a manner that made me wish I was able to be brutally honest and say, “This is all wrong. You see, I came in here with SLEEVES on my shirt. So why would you give me a fauxhawk?” But I instead, in a very Canadian way, left and tipped two dollars.

As I walked through the mall, I kept my head down, glancing up at the freshly cleaned windows, using them as a mirror to tussle my hair. I don’t care how tussled it was, as long as it wasn’t pretending to be a Mohawk. When I get home, I preformed reconstructive hair surgery and salvaged the cut. Luckily my hair grows fast.

On the plus side, the Bat-symbol shaved into the back of my head looks pretty sweet.

So, You Think You Can Jokes?

Posted on: January 14th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

Let me take you through an average day for me. I mean the 9-5 portion of my day. A little insight into what goes in to keep the jokey-jokes coming. It might be interesting. Just think of it as, reading the transcripts to the bonus features on a BluRay.”

I wake up around 7:15am everyday, except weekends. I know, a lot of you are probably thinking, “But you’re a comedian. Don’t you just sleep in everyday?” Not if I want to continue being a professional comedian. There’s more to comedy than just gathering an hour of material and touring with it for the next twenty years.

The first thing I do, is write my daily “to-do” list. Then I complete the list. Crazy right?! For instance, sometimes it will consist of calling venues to arrange bookings, meetings with possible other venues, writing, light graphic design (I’m no Photoshop wiz). Sometimes my list will have five things to do, sometimes ten. Some jobs are bigger than others and need more time.

Today was such a productive day; I nearly forgot to write my daily blog! (Watch, now there’ll be a problem with the internet and I won’t be able to post this.) I don’t even know if any of this is interesting to anyone, but it’s my website and I’ll do what I want to! Here was today’s list:

1)   Make a poster for an upcoming gig

2)   Order DVD cases

3)   Order DVD labels and covers

4)   Have DVDs made

5)   Bootleg my own audio so I can sell my comedy special as a CD/DVD combo

6)   Call venues about tour in March

7)   Daily Blog

I almost forgot number seven. Usually I have that first, but sometimes you need the day to figure out what to write about. And sometimes you have no idea what to write about, so you just write about your day. And here we are.

Not as much writing as I’d like to do in a day, but those DVDs need to get done! Why am I telling you all of this? It’s not even “Bring your website visitors to work day.” I’ve always been a fan of what goes into creating certain things, and comedy is no exception. Kind of a “pulled back curtain,” so to speak.

Everyone has their own process, and for all I know, I’m the least qualified person to work in my office. Plus, the cat pretty much demands attention whenever she wants. Sometimes I lean back in the chair to stretch, which is interpreted as, “Yes, I DO want cat hair all over me right now. And please walk across my binder.”

I hope I didn’t ruin comedy for anyone. I know a ruined a couple of lives on Twitter today when I made fun of Lady Gaga. But I also cooked a ham. The two events are in no way related.

Happy Monday!

Bar-chiatrist

Posted on: January 12th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

We may only be a few days into 2014, but I have to say, I’m enjoying it so far. I just spent an hour in Home Depot. When you’re an adult, Home Depot becomes the new Toys R Us.

I’m thinking about building a bar. The way I see it, if I’m going to drink as much as I do, I may as well keep it organized. Okay, maybe not, but, it would still be nice to have when we entertain people at the domicile. I very much look forward to having people over, standing behind the bar with a rag over my shoulder, another rag in hand being used to clean the bar while asking people, “So how’s the family doin’, Mr. McBride?”

Part of me as always found it fascinating that people will disclose the level of information they do to a bartender. But I guess it makes sense. Booze. I think I might become a bartending psychiatrist on the side. Open up an “office” that’s just really a bar. Then people can pay me by the hour (plus tip), and I can help them with their problems! You get drunk, I get rich! It’s pretty much a win-win situation!

Client: “I don’t think I’ll ever get that promotion.”

Me: “There’s an old saying that goes, ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right,’ which is the mindset you need to get yourself into. It’s a way of accomplishing a goal you’ve set for yourself, and to keep you motivated while we polish this bottle of Jameson’s.”

I would either be the greatest psychiatrist ever, or the SUPER-greatest psychiatrist ever. At the very least, you’re bound to forget your problems! …At least until morning.

Now accepting new clients.

The Mall-ing Dead

Posted on: January 12th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

Happy Saturday, everybody! Unless you were in the mall today, then please, learn how to walk. Perhaps read a book on spatial awareness and social etiquette.

On three separate occasions today, I was looking at an item and had somebody walk right in front of me and start perusing the merchandise as if I wasn’t there. I’m not sure what’s worse; knowing somebody else is looking at something you want to look at and stepping right in front of them, or NOT knowing somebody else is looking at something you want to look at because you’re too daft to realize it. (Yes, I said daft. I’ve been watching a lot of BBC lately.)

There should be traffic lights for people in the mall too. How great would it be if the person in front you had brake lights so you knew they were going to suddenly stop for no reason? Or blinkers to alert people when they were going to throw themselves into foot traffic without looking? Much like Bart’s utility belt (which is way better than your cord, man). But seriously, how do you NOT know somebody is there. How bad is your peripheral vision that you don’t notice somebody who is already in FRONT of you?

When did shopping become a free-for-all event? You know, besides Black Friday and Christmas Eve. Why can’t people say, “Excuse me?” As much as people say that the young generation is to blame, please take note. Every SINGLE time I was faced with a rude shopper today, they were older. Not “get off my lawn” crotchety old, but baby boomer age.

On a more positive note, I was in a store for younger folk. Not for ruffians, but those good young’uns that are up on wearing the latest do-dads and whatcha-ma-thingers. I heard three people in one store today all say sorry to each other within the span of two seconds. Then they all made out. Okay, the last part didn’t happen. But the point is, saying, “Pardon me,” to somebody goes a long way. I will be more than happy to accommodate you. But just stepping in front of me and trying to box me out like an NBA player fighting for a rebound, just makes me want to Ron Artest your face like it was the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Play nice!

Is That A Gun in Your Ladybits, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Posted on: January 10th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

That’s a news story circling around the world right now. A woman named Jennifer McCarthy, (Side note: What is it with the name “Jennifer McCarthy” that instantly makes you an insane nut-job?), had an argument with her boyfriend about space aliens (obviously), and got so upset she stormed out of the house. Probably plot her revenge.

But maybe she just wanted to make up. Because when she came home, she went straight into the bedroom, put on some lingerie and then confronted her boyfriend with an extra accessory to the lingerie. A GUN, RIGHT UP HER “HOO-HAH!”

And while using the gun like something that took batteries, she said to him, “Who is crazy? You or me?” Just to solidify her claims, she then pulled the gun out of her snatchel and pointed it at his head.

YOU! You are the one who is crazy!

He then wrestled the gun away from her, and threw the gun in the toilet. Probably not the best move. If she’s willing to put a gun in her hole-ster, chances are a little toilet water isn’t going to stop her. But at least he realized this, fished the gun out and then threw it in a garbage can, where police eventually found it upon arrival.

She was released on a $5000 bond. I don’t think this is what they mean when they say they want to get guns off the street. Although I’m not sure the gun would have fired anyway. Remember when Tommy Lee Jones tried to shoot his gun after pulling it from an alien in Men in Black?

Play safe. That gun should have been wearing a condom.

Same Sex Couples are Probably Better Parents

Posted on: January 9th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

Now before some idiot goes all “Westboro” on me, let me explain. Do you have any idea what a same-sex couple has to accomplish in order to be able to have or adopt a child?

Sperm donors, background checks, paperwork, surrogates, assisted conception, adoption forms for one of the fathers, I’m pretty sure there’s a lightning round too. Tons of forms to fill out, and they aren’t allowed to make a single mistake.

Most straight families start BECAUSE of a single mistake. How many parents out there have had their children ask, “Mommy? Daddy? …Was I planned?” This question always catches you off guard. The response is usually something like, “Of course you were! You just arrived a little sooner than we expected; namely, about three years. But who needs to travel together as a couple when we can stay home with you?”

The child of a same-sex couple never has to ask this. Can you imagine? “Daddy? …Daddy? Was I planned?” The parents would explode! “Are you kidding? Do you have ANY idea what went in to planning to have you? We could have staged the most elaborate heist in criminal history, but instead we focused our attention and planning onto having you. You were the Alcatraz of babies! And don’t ever interrupt the Wizard of Oz again.”

There are some things no parent can control. For instance, every kid is going to throw a temper tantrum. We’ve all seen it. Some kid, flopping around on the floor in Walmart, kicking and screaming because his Mom won’t buy him a Skylander Giant, or whatever toy is popular. But that would never happen with a Same-Sex couple, since they pretty much need a degree in Child Psychology in order for the government to allow them to start a family. Their child already knows that it’s unethical to shop at Walmart in the first place.

Jazz hands.

5 Tips For Staying Motivated

Posted on: January 8th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

It’s that wonderful time of year where the year is just over a week old, and those resolutions seem impossible to keep. Here’s some ways I’ve read about and thought of to keep yourself motivated. Enjoy!

1)   Tell everyone about your resolution or your plan. I read this online and it’s fantastic. Basically, by telling people, you’ve put yourself out there. This will push you to keep going because you never want to say, “Yeah… I gave up on that.”

2)   Make a daily to-do list. This is especially helpful for entrepreneurs, comedians, musicians, artists. Basically people who work for themselves. If you’re like me, your mind is running a million miles a minute. My friend, and website designer Dan Sampson (check my website for Web Gravy), is where I got this idea. It’s been great. It takes my scatterbrain and puts them into scattergories! Wait, that’s a board game. The point is, it works!

3)   MUSIC! Find your music that motivates you while you’re accomplishing your task/goal/sandwich. If you’re working out, try listening to some music that will get you going. Make fun if you will, but I’m always listening to epic motivational film scores. Find playlists on YouTube, Songza, iTunes, etc. By listening to it before you start your task, I find it helps get me going. And if you need silence, then buy a REALLY good pair of earplugs.

4)   Dive in. The hardest part is getting started. Read a book called “The War of Art,” by Steven Pressfield. That will definitely help. I always think of a daunting task as a high dive. Pick whatever you want. But for me, sometimes you need to think about it less, and just start. Dive in. Free fall. Amazing what happens when you just throw yourself out there.

5)   If you ever find yourself saying, “I REALLY don’t want to do this today,” try fast-forwarding to later on. If you had a goal that day, and you didn’t do it, how are you going to feel about it later that night or tomorrow? Don’t let yourself down!

Goals are giving up what you want right now, for something you want later. For instance, I only watched ONE episode of Doctor Who today. Hope this helped. And if it didn’t, well then I hope your goal was to not listen to advice and do your own thing.

Keeping Up With the Kartastrophes

Posted on: January 7th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

Whenever I ask people why they watch horrible shows like Honey Boo-Boo, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or Duck Dynasty (the list goes on), I’m always given the same response. “It’s like watching a train wreck! It’s so entertaining and I feel better about my life.”

Think about that for a second. Basically what’s implied is that when you drive past a horrible train wreck, rubber-necking to check out the crash, slowing down traffic so you can get a quick glimpse of devastation rather than focus on keeping traffic moving for emergency vehicles, you feel better about your life? “Look! Right beside the train is a torso! What losers! I feel so much better than them! What will they come up with next?!”

That’s not a valid excuse. Television is slowly dumbing down the population. The Kardashians are a prime example. These are people who are seemingly rich and famous for being rich and famous. How does that happen? I often wonder if people realize that by supporting these shows, they’re putting more money into the pockets of these horrible role models.

Duck Dynasty. How does anybody fall for this? This is a show about millionaire duck hunters, who before the show, were all clean cut and well-groomed men. But then A&E gave them all a Scrooge McDuck money tower and said, “Hey what if you all grow long bears, long hair and make homophobic remarks? We’ll kick you off the air, but it’ll just be a stunt to get more viewers, and then we can put your faces on more impulse items at the mall!” I really want a Scrooge McDuck pool, even though swimming in it would be impossible.

Reality television is now called, “reality based programming.” It’s kind of like when a book or movie is based on a true story. I implore you to check YouTube for videos where the producers of reality shows are telling the cast what to do. If it were truly a reality show, it wouldn’t Story Editors and Story Producers, but alas if you check IMDB.com, the Kardashian show has them both. Then again, I can imagine those women need some direction in day-to-day life. “No Kim, you can’t wear those shoes when you’re pregna— ah, screw it.”

It’s disheartening when smart people watch these shows rather than something that might enlighten, or possibly even educate you. Many great shows have gone off the air because too many people want to watch a train wreck. I understand the need for “Turn your brain off,” entertainment. I love The Expendables. But it doesn’t try for a second to pretend it’s anything that it’s not.

New movie idea: Expendables 4: Back to Reality. Barney and the gang are hired to destroy the Duck Dynasty.

All I’m saying is, with information so readily available, why not help a show with actual writers and actors? It can even be a show ABOUT train wrecks. There you go!

Choo-choo!

Where Did You Get Your License?

Posted on: January 6th, 2014 by brendanmckeigan

 

There are bad drivers, and then there are BAD drivers. I realize I talk about this in my act, but this needs to be said. It’s WAY too easy to get a driver’s license. I know somebody who failed their driver’s test, but then was given a pass because they CRIED. Really? Your emotions got the better of you while operating a 3000-pound accelerating metal machine, but apparently tears are an acceptable means of acquiring a license.

Last night, the weather wasn’t great; some freezing rain, snow, etc. There was a driver on my right at the intersection. His lane was closing shortly after the lights, just before another intersection. This driver, didn’t even look or signal, but instead just cut me off. Luckily there was a left hand turn lane with no car in it, so I was able to avoid being side swiped like an opponent in “Death Race”. I flashed my lights, gave him a honk, because I was hoping for a polite wave of apology. He then proceeded to turn around (while driving), and give me the finger as he DROVE THROUGH A RED LIGHT.

Think about that. In the span of a couple of seconds this man changed lanes without looking or signaling. I honk; he looks, gives me the finger and because he wasn’t focused on operating his vehicle properly, and drove through a red light.

Luckily, I feel very confident as a driver. I’m pretty good at reading traffic, and I’m aware of the road and the cars on it. Use your mirrors people! I’m sure at some point or another, we’ve all been driving while looking at a car, and said to your passenger something like, “That guy is about to cut off three people,” and sure enough, it happens. Car Psychics are an underrated medium. We should help solve crimes.

But how do we get bad drivers off the road? They legally acquired a license, right? I would be more than happy to submit myself for a driver’s test every 5-7 years if it meant that it would take other bad drivers OFF the road. Think of how great that would be! A world filled with, “No, after you,” and, “Thank you kindly.” Traffic would flow better during rush hour without everybody thinking they need to be in the fast lane. Cyclists rejoice! We would share the road with you and buy you ice cream!

The point is, and I don’t even know if I have one, is that talking about all of this is like talking about what you would do if you won the $100 Million jackpot. Sure, it would be great, and the odds are it probably won’t happen. But it’s nice to dream.