The ability to laugh an effective remedy for problems. Laughter helps the body release endorphins, which are hormones secreted that temporarily relieve stress and pain. While comedians are widely accepted as lighthearted, funny people, but there is much more to the art of comedy.
“Most people write their sets like weird, stilted monologues,” explained comedian Jacob McFadden when dissecting the art of writing jokes. “It needs to be written like a conversation. Leave room for people to people to be involved. You can never predict an audience’s reaction. Radio is actually perfect training. It teaches you to be personable, to leave room for the unexpected, and to always be in the moment.”
McFadden, a former disc jockey for Virginia Commonwealth University’s WVCW, originally wanted to work in radio. He eventually ended up leaving the field early because of rules and restrictions. Explicit and raw, McFadden’s sense of humor violated the decency standards of public airwaves. . Not long after, he found sanctuary in performing live at bars as a comedian.
Despite having the fun job of making crowds chuckle, there are numerous other aspects to the profession that aren’t often glorified.. One of the biggest issues that comics face is heckling. The wise-cracking audience members intent on giving a comedian a hard time are difficult for some to deal with but others have no qualms about controlling the room.
“I go hardcore right away,” he said. “I usually pull people around and they end up liking me but sometimes I demolish them,” he said. “I don’t enjoy hecklers but I can handle it. I may leave the stage a little too caustic for the guys after me, though. I’m sensitive.”
Another problem concerns writing material: The average Joe might be under the impression they have an infinite supply of jokes but this could not be further from the truth. McFadden, for one, has admitted to having trouble writing simple jokes.
Ghostwriting, the act of an individual writing something that will be accredited to another, is a prevalent occurrence in comedy. It goes hand-in-hand with McFadden’s belief that comedians have a certain voice.
“Everyone does it,” he said. “Sometimes, you think of a joke that doesn’t fit your voice but it works for someone else. Instead of wasting the joke or trying to force it into your set, give it to a friend. People are always offering tags and trying to improve their colleagues sets.”
A well-rounded writer, McFadden has dipped his hands in a slew of different genres. He has written and given away several small sketches for free. In addition to those, he also wrote a play that was later produced.
Fiction and poetry have also had the pleasure of his exploration. By taking a course in the reading and writing of fiction and poetry last year, he discovered the similarities and differences between prose and comedy.
“Poetry is interesting because the perception is that it requires you to give of yourself. Most people assume that it means sorrow, agony, and sensitivity. Comedy also requires you to give of yourself, so I wanted to move that forward. Poetry is inherently personal, unlike fiction, so whatever you write will be judged as ‘you.’ I reveal my own follies but without trying to force others to feel it,” he said.
The satisfaction McFadden receives from making others laugh is, in his words, “orgasmic.” According to him, laughter is a release and people laugh the hardest during moments where it is most uncomfortable. It is McFadden’s opinion the best laughs are at funerals because of suppressed emotions finally being expressed.
McFadden believes jokes that have bad delivery, no punchline, are too self-referential, and are too much like a monologue are poor. Furthermore, he claims everyone can be a comedian but not all will be good. Those interested in pursuing a career in comedy are given a word of advice.
“Get really drunk and argue with people. Before you do that, ask the manager of the bar if you can start an open-mic at his spot. Then, get really drunk, argue with people, and journal it when you get home. Seriously, that’s where you will find the bits.”