Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Hack Trap (or why I have thrown away lots of my material)

I am finishing writing my Edinburgh show for this August. I have been going through the 3 notebooks I have filled this year with jokes and ideas, with the aim of writing another 10/15 minutes of material. And I have been crossing most of them out, 4 weeks before the festival starts. Not only that, I have also culled some material from my set that works, that’s tried and trusted (self-service check-outs anyone?).

Why have I done this? Because these jokes/ideas are “hack” or easy. I define “hack” as topics that have been covered before by other comics (or are being covered now). I define “easy” as Padlovian jokes where the structure is good and will get an audience response, but the contents are uninspired or dirty.

Why would I throw way almost a year’s worth of work? Why am I getting rid of material that works and will work in Edinburgh? Simple: it is effective but not unique. It is good enough but not outstanding. Being very good is not enough anymore in a competitive market place. You must be remarkable. You must stand-out. I am taking a short-run risk in order to make a long term impact.

It is riskier, dumber, in the long run to be similar to other people.

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