If I had to name my all time favourite comedian it would be Jerry Seinfeld, hands down. When I first got into comedy, I bought his Seinlanguage book (at the time of writing, there is a copy available for 1p!); which is basically his act in typed form. It shouldn’t work written down, but it does and I liked it even more. It made me appreciate the writing and endless editing that went into producing his set.
In magic, I hardly have any scripting. I have little bullet points in my tricks that I have to hit, like checkpoints, but I love the fact that when I’m performing I can go off on a tangent knowing that, no matter how far off I go, I can just head back to a checkpoint and move on with the show.
In comedy though I’m different. I feel that every word counts. I’m constantly writing and examining my scripts (which I learn word for word), to see if I can change a word here, or drop a syllable there. I’m trying to make it as tight as I possibly can. This is probably influenced by performers like Seinfeld, but more probably massively influenced by my fear of dying on my backside on stage, not wanting to leave any gaps in my set where the audience could pounce on me and heckle.
However, the best tip I’ve learned from Seinfeld about writing is his “Don’t break the chain” idea. When he was touring and wanted to write his TV show, he knew he would have to write every day, so he bought a calendar and made a big red “X” on the first day he did some writing. He did another “X” on the second day and so on. After a while of writing every day, you begin to see the chain of “X”‘s get longer and longer. The aim is not to break the chain; to do some writing everyday.
Every single day, whether you want to or not.
By keeping the chain, not only do you improve your writing skill (you’re doing it every day for crying out loud; how can you not get better?), but you force yourself to do it, even when you don’t feel like it, so it helps beat procrastination. You’ll gain confidence too, both in the quality of your writing and your ability to produce it.
So, if there’s something in your life that you want to achieve, do something about it today and then grab a calendar and give yourself a big red “X”. See how long you can make the chain.
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