Standup Comedy vs DJing: Two arts, same craft?

I listen to a lot of podcasts, one of my favorites is done by Tim Ferriss. In his chat w/ Jaime Foxx they touch on his standup career. In the five minutes beginning at 1:09:30 Jaime describes the few times he’s bombed on stage, I couldn’t help but notice how the conversation could have also applied to DJing.

Flop #1: New Demographics

Jaime gets to the venue and sees that the people are not his usual type of audience. Nor is the stage setup in the way he’s used to in vicinity to the crowd.

He runs through a few routines but nothing works. He takes his loss, bows out, and a guy from the kitchen steps in. He kills it. A light bulb goes off as Jaime watches… he only knew how to tell jokes for a certain demographic. This realization kicks off a drive to learn how to tell jokes for everybody, anywhere.

He then travels to different areas across the country with varying audiences testing different material. He would log what material worked for each area, each demographic. Touring around the world for different demo’s he builds up a library of material/framework to work anywhere. No matter the age, race, gender, etc.

Flop #2: Overconfidence & Failing to Prep

The second time he ever bombed he had just not done enough prep.
“When you bomb you’re not bad”, he says. “You just didn’t put in enough work.” That’s either short-term prep (assembling a rough set list with enough relevant material for the specific audience), or long-term prep (practicing transitions, mixing certain genres, etc).

Takeaways

With how much I pulled from just this five minute segment there’s got to be so much more that cross-applies. Here’s a short list of bullets from Jaime’s convo I’ve found to apply to both stand-up and DJing:

  • Gotta have great material, for DJs that’s the music in your library.
  • Make sure you prep for different types of situations and demographics.
  • Don’t let your success get to your head or you’ll slack on #1 & #2.
  • The crowd/dancefloor will let you know very quickly if you’re not on it

Over the coming weeks I’m making a point to check out material on standup comedy to see what else I can find.