Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: The Best And Worst Of Being A Comedian, With Becky Lucas
"Nothing worse than seeing your grandma checking her watch. LOCK THE DOORS."
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This article is brought to you by Junkee for the Junkee/St.George Thumb Wars.
As a stand-up comedian, writer, performer and excellent tweeter Becky Lucas has established an exciting new voice on the Australian comedy scene. Lucas has spent five years writing and performing stand-up nationally, has written for Josh Thomas’s Emmy nominated hit show Please Like Me and has a weekly segment, ‘What’s Cool’, on Triple J’s Drive with Veronica and Lewis.
Next month she’ll be joining us (and maybe you, if you enter here) at our Thumb War Championship party in Sydney, to help find an ultimate thumb wrestling champion — a person who will win the respect of many, the worship of few, and five-thousand of dollars.
Here Becky tells us what three things about being a comedian she gives a thumbs up to, and three that get her thumbs down.
#1: People who use a seven-minute spot to unload their deepest insecurities, with no jokes.
“Sometimes it seems like people start doing comedy because they’ve run out of ears in their social circle. People get up and talk about how their dad was never at home when they were young for their whole set, and then come off and say, ‘Geez, the crowd were a bit tough’. No they weren’t, they felt bad for you because your eyes were full of tears.
“The best thing to do is offer to buy them a drink and then let them know when the next story-telling night is. I hear the theme is ‘boo hoo’.”
#2: The idea that my gender is somehow exotic
“When the MC is a guy who isn’t funny at all, and who brings me onto the stage with ‘next we have a female comic’ — as if it’s a whole different genre to comedy.
“If they were a different ethnicity, introducing someone like that wouldn’t be acceptable, but for some reason it still happens. Most male comics are lovely and supportive and would never do that — but when I do a rough gig at a pub or an RSL, often the MC is a divorcee many times over and has something to prove.
“It almost feels like they are giving the crowd a little wink like, ‘I know guys, it will be over soon’. Rack off mate.”
#3: The unbearable highs and lows of putting on a show
“One night you are the queen of comedy and you have a full house and everything works. And then some nights (usually when there are people you know in the crowd) everything falls apart and you want to start crying but you can’t because you’ve committed to an hour and both you and the audience knows this. Nothing worse than seeing your grandma checking her watch. LOCK THE DOORS.”
#1: Getting to hang around with some of the funniest people in Australia and the world
“Sometimes my favourite part of performing is just the chat backstage; often one person is copping it the most, and that is the best. Almost nothing is off limits and everything is up for discussion — it makes returning to normal conversations very difficult.
“This might be controversial, but I actually think a lot of comedians I know are progressive and ahead of their time, and that its the rest of the world who are still catching up in terms of gender issues, homophobia etc. (Bigots in comedy still exist but it’s hard to catch them; they live in weird tunnels under the city.)”
#2: People who are themselves on stage
“When you first start, you sort of sound like the person you were inspired by, which is totally fine — but after years of doing gigs and writing stand-up that you find funny, it’s cool to see your real personality on stage. I love when you can’t hear any influences from anywhere else; it makes you pay attention and listen to what they’re saying. I personally sound exactly like Anh Do, but I’m hoping to find my own voice in the future.”
#3: Funny things are funny to everyone
“Often when you do stand up you are doing open mics and gigs in the city, so you end up writing stuff that sometimes feels very centred on city life. Recently I went on a regional tour through Queensland and New South Wales, and it was so cool to perform stand up for people who live in rural areas, and for them to laugh at stuff that I wasn’t sure they would laugh at. It’s very comforting to know that, on a base level, we all more or less find the same things funny.”
You can sign up for Becky’s weekly newsletter that’s full of funny here, or check out her blog Rat In A Wig.
Check out Becky in action and feast your eyes on the night of glory that was Thumb Wars here (video hyperlink), which includes Alex Gardiner winning the $5,000 prize with just the Power of his Thumb.
Views expressed in the article are those of the writer.