A few weeks ago I talked about standing ovations and had someone message me that they heard a guy end his set with something to the effect of, “I’m a cancer survivor, thank you!” which led to a standing ovation. It came out of the blue, he didn’t mention it earlier in his act from what I gathered. In my book I mention other ways to get cheap applause with some of it more acceptable than others depending on the situation. Again, I’m not giving my book away on here for free as these weekly entires are only side notes to some of the tips and advice on how to make money in comedy, so I’ll just focus on what seems to be the biggest offender. (And hear me out as I delicately approach this topic…)
“Keep it going for the troops…” The line itself is a running joke to a lot of comics. We’re not disrespecting the troops. In fact, it really doesn’t have much to do with them (which is why the line shouldn’t be abused). We support them, obviously. What we’re laughing about is the blatant pandering that some comics have to resort to. There’s nothing wrong with having, “He just got back from entertaining the troops in Iraq…” as an intro. I wish I could say that. But when you take their hard work and lifestyle and use it as a cheap excuse for applause to your set, I think it’s disrespectful. If there’s someone from the military in the crowd and you want to give them a round of applause after pointing them out, that’s great…it’s for them. But when you’re using the line to piggyback a crescendo in your set, or bail you out of a tough spot, that’s selfish in my opinion. I realize I might catch some crap for this, and I usually keep all advice away from opinions and stick to the facts that I’ve learned from the mouths of successful headliners, but I thought I’d take a risk. I understand that sometimes at a one-nighter you have to do something to wake up thirty hillbillies who are more interested in Sunday’s pole, but I also include in my book the correct strategies I’ve learned on how to handle places like Muncie, Indiana without taking the cheap route and developing bad habits.
For those that need a second opinion on this matter, listen to Bill Hicks mock the overuse in this bit. Argue with his fans, not me.