- Created on Monday, 23 September 2013 22:00
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In comparison to most of the standup comedy artists, Morgenstern was not forced to spend every single day, year-by-year, waking up, going to a day job and after all that finding strength and the time to perform on stage at different open mics.
Nor did he go multiple times a night from one place to another with a hope that Lorne Michaels, the creator and producer of Saturday Night Live, was there watching him.
He was lucky to be promoted to a regular show at his first Yuk Yuk’s Amateur Night.
“It is basically luck,” says Billy Wiegand.
“(On the other hand), if you are doing well enough all the time, if you go to Yuk Yuk’s every night, and every night you have all audience laughing, eventually, somebody is going to say, ‘Hey, you know, I want to make money off of your talent.’”
Like most comedians performing at Tuesday Amateur Night at 7:30 p.m., Wiegand is a second-year student in the Comedy: Writing and Performance program at Humber College, Toronto. During the day he studies improvisation, standup comedy and sketch and writing, whereas at night he performs at Yuk Yuk’s and other clubs he finds in open mic listings on www.comedyuncovered.ca. He is only 20 and, thus, has enough time not only to be promoted, but like Morgenstern, to become a nominee and a winner of Canadian television’s Gemini awards for best writing in a television special or series.
“I try to (perform) maybe three or four (times a week).”
“There is a guy in New York who supposedly does it 27 times a week, so about four sets every night, 27 times a week. People go really, really hard. They really try a lot.”
Another Humber College student performing at the show is 20-year-old Ben Stager.
From an early age, Stager had a fascination not only with comedy, but also with pig farming. He always wanted to be both. So, for the reason that there is no course in Humber College for pig farming he has chosen an alternative.
Every year 60 students make the same choice as Stager did, passing all the required exams and finally entering the doors of Humber College School of Comedy, the sole school in Ontario offering a comedy program.
“The program is great,” says Stager. “It helps you to be critical of what you are doing, and it really does teach you how to become a better comedian. It has opened my eyes to many things I have never thought of before.”
One of the advantages the program has is an ability to perform on stage in Yuk Yuk’s Amateur Night in Toronto every week.
Weekly, students receive a book to sign up for a performance: they place their name in a bucket and wait for a lottery during which professors are going to chose who’s turn it is to go on stage and take a microphone in hand.
According to Andrew Clark, a program co-ordinator, only about 20 per cent of people studying are going to decide to stay in the business; the rest of them will become “everything from a venture capitalist to a paramedic and police officer.”
Of course, the fact that future policemen and paramedic will have a sense of humour cannot help but cause joy, on the other hand, it arrives at a question: “What kind of traits do people need to become comedians?”
Fatima Mohamed, 29, a vice-president of Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, Toronto, says that “you have just to be funny.”
“That is pretty simple. If you are an audience member, would you want to see somebody funnier or somebody that is not funny? That is a good trait to have. Let’s start with that – be funny.”
“You have to assume that anybody wants to be a comedian is because they already make people laugh. They are class clown, they are always funny guys,” says Morgenstern.
“If you want to be a comic, you have just got to jump into it and do it. You cannot just possibly know about stand up comedy until you do it, (and) if you have balls to get up on this stage, that is already more than half a battle won.”