Kuki, CruiseMates Cruise Director, takes on the challenge of becoming a professional standup comedian for one night.
For this "gig" Al's challenge was completely different -- to just "DO IT" without a net. Trial by fire, sink or swim. This article could have easily been called "How to Make a Total Fool of Yourself."
At first I thought they were joking. Me? Walk out on stage and try to make people laugh out loud? But like many of the ideas only comedians seem to get, what began as a bizarre notion soon became an irrevocable commitment. Al, Lewis and Carnival's Director of Onboard Entertainment, Chris Prideaux, convinced themselves it was one of their best ideas ever, and hey, who cared what I thought? And what was I thinking? "It's a crazy way to run a cruise line!" ran through my mind more than once even as I heard myself agreeing to go along.
I was somewhat relieved when the three of them insisted we get together the next day to plan everything out. I felt even better when they told me I would be opening for Al at his late night show on the final night of the cruise. I thought on the last night of a cruise people would be packing to leave the ship. There might only be 30 or 40 people there. Little did I know the house would be packed to the rafters, but I wouldn't discover that until much later.
|Lewis Nixon prepping Kuki||Al Ernst working with Kuki|
Here was the plan: It had to be all my material -- they were not giving me anything, but they did agree to hear my stuff and help me polish it. As I already said, Al and Lewis are professionals and two of the funniest comedians I've ever seen anywhere. I was incredibly nervous just reading my material to them in private let alone thinking that I might perform it in public. But they were amazingly supportive, which was the only thing that stopped me from hanging the "Do Not Disturb" sign on my stateroom door until everyone left the ship.
We worked together for several hours, reviewing, refining, and molding my words into a comedy act. During this meeting, and another to follow, I learned there is much more to being a professional comedian than being funny. Comedy requires dedication and hard work -- not only to create the "bits" and to have the instincts for what's funny and what is not. At this point I was expecting I would be rushing off of the stage, head bowed, directly up the showroom aisle to the nearest exit.
But as we discussed the art of comedy and details of doing the act; the presentation of the lines in a clear voice, enunciating when I speak, instead of mumbling (which Mrs. Kuki mistakenly insists I always do) and the body language, I felt things starting to gel and my confidence building. They prepared me for the dynamics of the act -- the timing necessary to avoid running over the laughs of the audience. Of course I didn't pay much attention to these details because I wasn't expecting any laughs. The only audience reaction I was expecting was the shoes they'd be throwing at me.
I had two days to write my "bit" and commit it to memory. I spent more time thinking I should be committed for even attempting comedy. There's a fine line between people laughing with you and people laughing at you.
Continue Article >> A "Day on the Job" as a Shipboard Comedian (Part 3)
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