Stand up comedy last true art form

The bright lights, sweaty palms and blank audience stares are the finish line for stand-up comics, not the beginning.

“The first thing you need to know is that comedy is show business,” said comic Steve Sabo, who organizes a local comedy night at Grumpy Dave’s. He has been pursuing comedy for 17 years.

Sabo remembers times of driving three hours both ways just to stand up in front of a crowd and tell jokes for five minutes. Over the years he has discovered how to balance the business and performance parts of comedy and is still enthusiastic.

“You have people out there who hate Dane Cook, but this guy knows how to market himself, he is unbelievably popular,” Sabo said. “But people want to see the comic who was made fun of his whole life whereas you know Dane Cook always had money in his pocket and was dating the prom queen,” he said.

Seasoned pros and newbies alike still depend on the creativity of their jokes to get their audiences to pay attention.

For sophomore Craig Flack, a pact with a high school friend led him to start writing down his jokes. Flack and his friend promised each other that after they had finished writing their jokes down on paper they would start performing them anywhere they could.

Flack kept up his end of the deal.

Last fall he decided he would finally take the plunge into performing comedy by competing in the University’s “Last Comic Standing” contest. As one out of nine, Flack thought that he would try to break himself into comedy, not knowing that he would make it to the final round and win the competition.

“In the first week you could actually see my hands shaking, comedy was like my big football game,” Flack said. “You have to at least respect it until you do it, you can’t make an honest opinion of it until you’ve tried it.”

The winning prize was an opening slot for Connections Comedy Club in Toledo. With an ego boost from “Last Comic Standing,” Flack looked forward to telling his jokes in front of a friendlier audience, mostly made up of his friends and family.

But he didn’t count on the attitude of the other comedians performing that night.

“The other guys were no help at all. They didn’t act like they wanted me to be there,” he said.

While some aspiring comedians are ready to stand up alone in front of the mic, others look to be involved in ensemble casts.

Erin Keaton has always been interested in comedy, but thought she was “too old” to really get involved.

“I’m really not too old, I am in my early twenties and I know that it’s something that I will always regret if I don’t do,” she said. “I would love to go be a part of the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York or The Second City in Chicago,” she said.

Still, it all comes down to writing jokes that make people laugh. Crossing that finish line with sweaty palms and shaking knees only makes it funnier.