A friend mine told me this fantastic story that happened to her one time while she was dog-sitting. After she told it to me, I was like, “This is an amazing story. I have to share it.” So that’s the first reason I’m writing down my version of it here. The second reason why I’m sharing her story isn’t so happy.. .but let’s forget that for now and just enjoy the story first!
A lot of “normal” people don’t know there’s a whole different language comedians use to talk about stand up comedy.. .which has led to the creation of “stand up dictionaries” in an attempt to explain our lives to humorless plebeians.
But this isn’t one of those fluffy-ass dictionaries for non-comics! This dictionary is for advanced, fluent stand up comedians! With the real, honest definitions – what the words really mean. This ain’t your grandma’s stand up dictionary (unless your grandma was a comic!).
Unfortunately, if you’re not a comedian, this glossary is about as useful as bringing a pocket French dictionary to France. So it might help a little bit. But you’re definitely still going to look stupid. Hey, it’s a start! Actually, it’s the perfect piece to read if, like my mother, you don’t particularly care for comedy but you have “a horse in the race.” With some practice, maybe your poor grasp on our lexicon won’t completely stick out like a sore incomplete idiom.
I know this isn’t an alphabetical list. And, yes, technically that’s what a dictionary is supposed to be. But the alphabet is overrated! Screw the alphabet! Who uses anything besides emojis anymore? That’s why I organized these words for maximal vocabularic retention (i.e. however I feel like it). I’m not sure if “vocabularic” is a real word, but it should be.
So. Below is the very first, very un-alphabetical edition of The (Honest) Stand Up Comedy Dictionary.
You’re a mechanical engineering student at Stanford University – one of the most elite colleges in the world. On a typical weeknight, you’re powering through your homework problems for Compressive Flow/Turbo Machinery, studying for an upcoming exam in Fluid Mechanics, building a solar power race car, presenting a camera mount (that you designed) at an engineering fair, or meeting with one of the four student groups that you’re a leader of.
Oh, and you do stand up comedy. You run an open mic at the campus coffee shop on Fridays where you perform in front of an audience of maaaaaybe 10 people. By the time the mic is over, there will be 3 of them left. One, an old man who lives in a trailer and plays his saxophone on the campus quad, comes every week just to heckle you – specifically you – about how your jokes aren’t funny. Whenever you get a chance, you make the forty-minute drive up to San Francisco to hit up an open mic (an open mic that isn’t much more popular than the one you run) and then you make the forty-minute drive back to campus.
One night, you get an email. Demetri Martin, one of the most famous headlining comics in America, is coming to your school. He’s going to be performing in front of an audience of 600. And you get to open for him.
That’s what happened to my friend Phill.
Phill Giliver is a student and open mic comedian based in the San Francisco Bay. This is the story of how he threw his hardworking college-student life out the window for one week so he could perform the set of his life.
A lot of people say you shouldn’t meet your hero because you’ll just be disappointed when you encounter them in the flesh. Phill found out what it was like to meet his. And he says, “do it.”
Every stand up comedian has her or his or her or his own unique microphone grip; it’s what makes her or him (or her) special. I’ve collected a comprehensive list of ALL the grips that are out there. Every single one! If you tell jokes into a microphone, there’s a description here waiting specifically for you. I’ve been hunting different mic grips for years, and I’m proud to announce I have finally caught them all. I’m the Ollivanders Wand Shop of microphone grips. 22. That’s how many mic grips I’ve documented! TWENTY-FREAKING-TWO. I’m the expert! Here they are. Which one fits you?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how my stand up has changed since I did comedy back in college on the West coast, so I wrote this thing about one of my old jokes that I ended up adapting after coming to New York City. Before I say anything else, I want to point out that my experience in comedy is limited. I did relatively minimal comedy before coming to New York and I’ve been here for just over half a year. So, in terms of the East/West differences I’m writing about, they only come from my limited personal experiences, which I suppose could have been different for anyone.
Hello! I’ve been working hard on this story so that I could submit it to a comedy festival…and I just finished it! It’s a story about a trip I took to New Orleans with my grandpa. It’s pretty damn long, but I really do like it a lot. I’m not just saying that. Give it a darn minute of your time and see if you like it!
What’s up with dolphins?! Right?!?!? Are we on board with this? You better get on board cuz we’re on the dolphin hating boat and we’re going for a ride.
Why do so many people like dolphins? Huh?!
Especially, like, 6-12 year old girls.
Dolphins dominate the school supplies of 6-12 year old girls! Why?!
I wonder if they tried other animals first. Like, they put a gopher on a folder and it didn’t sell. So they put it on an orange background, but the gopher/orange combination didn’t work. And then they tried a dolphin with pink and for whatever reason it totally worked, even though dolphins are basically the gopher of the sea.
Do you think the school supply people were pissed when the naked mole rat worked out for Kim Possible? They were all like, “We tried that in the 90’s and nobody bought it!”
Do you think dolphins are obsessed with 6-12 year old girls? Like pedophilic dolphins? I DON’T THINK SO. Girls are weird! And friggin’ creepy. You should never like an animal that much.
…don’t even get me started on horses…
Why are you making that sound? Why must you whinny? YOU ARE NOT A POOH! Are you confused? There is only one animal who can winnie and it is a fictional gender questionable bear named Pooh.
You have hooves. Which are basically the closest to shoes that feet can get. But then you’re like “Oh no, I need special ‘horse shoes,’ which can only be used for 1) my feet or 2) a silly game that cowboys and weird old smelly men play.” You’re not special, horse. You don’t need special shoes.
What’s so great about horses?! Come on little girls, get a grip!
…don’t even get me started on unicorns…
The featured image is a cartoon I drew in college.
If comedians have a bad set, they’re always like, “I’m gonna go kill myself!”
And then everyone is like, “HAAAAA! THAT’S THE FUNNIEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD!!!!!!!!! SUICIDE IS HILARIOUS!”
Which I think is dumb. To me, it’s not funny to just say you’re gonna kill yourself. That’s not a well-written joke. I just feel like it should feel more hacky to other comedians by now. Like, if you want to have a mental disorder, then get more creative with it, right?
How about something like, “Man, there were so few laughs in this set that I’m gonna have PTSD!!! I know that’s a real thing that people actually have but I don’t care!!!”
Or, “This set was so bad, when I go home and my wife wants to have sex with me I won’t be able to get hard!”
Or, “After this I’m gonna go home and have me some bulimia so I can puke up all that shit I just ate on stage!!!”
The featured image is of One Court Square, also known as the Citigroup Building. It was taken down Jackson Avenue from The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City.
One of my favorite things is telling jokes that only I think are funny and nobody else thinks are funny. Which is, like, fantastic for stand up – I know.
I just think that there’s something hilarious about somebody thinking something is the funniest thing ever and everybody else just being like, “No, that’s not true. That is NOT funny. At all.”
That happened to me in real life once recently.
I was on the train listening to a podcast in my headphones and then something funny happened in the podcast and I started laughing out loud. Like, really hard.
And then I looked next to me and I saw that this really old woman who was sitting next to me had just fallen off her seat on the ground.
And then I realized that everyone in the train was looking at me like I was some asshole because they thought I was just laughing my ass off at this old, injured, helpless lady who was sprawled out on the ground of the train.
And that just made me laugh even harder! Because they didn’t get the joke. They didn’t get why I thought it was funny. And at this point I was laughing hysterically, so I couldn’t just be like, “No, people…you don’t understand: my podcast is funny.” So I thought, “Okay, fine. I don’t care. I’m just make this even funnier for me.”
So, I just went with it. I pointed at the lady on the ground and went, “Ha, she’s old! She’s old and she fell! That’s hilarious!”
And then I got up…and I started kicking her. Real hard.
And then I pulled out my switch blade and I went, “STAB! STAB!”
And then I grabbed some of the blood and I was like flicking it on peoples faces all around the train.
And they still did not get the joke. They did not think that was funny. At all.
Except for one guy who was laughing. But then I realized that he had headphones on too, so he was probably just listening to the same podcast that I was.
You people get it though, right? That’s FUNNY. You get it. You’re totally on my side.
The featured image is a mural of Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza from the TV show Seinfeld that I found somewhere in Bushwick.
Nick Vatterott is a big name in comedy. He’s a working comic who has been around New York City for a while now, working some of its best clubs. I think the consensus is that he hasn’t had his “breakout” moment yet on TV, but he has a huge cult following because he’s awesome. (see more of him on his website)
Yesterday, in frustration with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, he typed out this long Facebook post, which has accumulated upwards of 800 likes and 80 shares in 17 hours. His frustrations with the theater have garnered a lot of support from the stand up community. Everybody seems to be sharing or posting about it today!