Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Men of Comedy: Guest Blogger Ed Gougeon

In our guest blogging series, we want bloggers from unknown to infamous and everything in between.  It's all about comedy, our journey's to get there, and some funny stories along the way.  Today JH5 is happy to present Ed Gougeon, who discusses his first three years of comedy, trying to get ahead while also being a father to his children.  Read on................

Ed Gougeon
My name is Ed Gougeon, I’m a 34 year old Financial Advisor , I’m married, have two kids and I live in the suburbs…Oh, and I’m a part time amateur Comedian.  Three years ago, with a little encouragement from my wife, I decided I was going to do my first stand up set.  I remember it took me a month to write the material and about another month to finally become comfortable enough with my delivery of it that I arranged to take the stage at Absolute Comedy on Preston Street on a balmy Wednesday evening in late March of 2008.  

My heart was pounding out of my chest when I finally took the stage.  The first few moments were touch and go until at about the thirty second mark, I was hit with what felt like a wall of laughter that didn’t subside until I left the stage in complete shock. I was expecting a chuckle or two, but I got real laughter!  It was one of the most memorable days of my life and I’ve been doing comedy ever since.   At the time I would have told you that the audience reaction was all me.  Had I known then what I know now, it would have been clear to me that my success on stage that evening was due to a myriad of factors almost completely unrelated to my performance on stage.  I dropped the f bomb 400 times. I went a full minute and a half over. But in true obnoxious rookie form, I was convinced I had just delivered the most epic performance of all time and every one with a pulse that was present that night including the comedians, were in awe!

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since that night. It’s even harder to believe that I have two more to go before I’m even competent enough on stage to call my self a comedian.  I think for me it’s going to be even longer than that, as I don’t commit as much time to comedy as I would like, due to obligations of family and career. I think that puts me in a unique position with regard to the pressure I put on myself to become a better comic.  In short; I go at my own pace.  I see so many talented comics committing way more of their personal time than I do, on and off stage, to just becoming better at comedy.  Recognizing that, I’ve made a point not to get delusional about my progress, no matter how well a set might go.  As Howard Wagman told me the night of my second performance when I expressed surprise that nobody had advance knowledge of my first performance, “It’s just another show.”  I’ve booked several hosting gigs at Absolute and Yuk Yuk's more recently, which in and of itself is progress.  Over the next year or two I hope to try my hand at featuring and longer sets, but again, I see it more as a marathon than a sprint these days.  I’d rather be really good when I start performing the more important shows so I’m willing to give it time.

I’m pretty sure what makes me funny at this point is as much style as it is perspective and material. My persona on stage is really just an amplification of the quirky, frenetic person I am in real life.  My writing has certainly improved in the past three years, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t leverage my presence on stage as much, if not more than the jokes to get a laugh.  If success in comedy were measured solely on ability to write jokes, I fear I’d be completely out of my league.  Thankfully, I think I have a look and delivery that when firing on all cylinders, combined with a few of my finer set pieces, can elicit a belly laugh or three. If the notion of writing what one knows is cliché, then I’m as cliché as it gets.  My wife, my parents, my kids, my wife’s parents, my colleagues, my sandwich; it’s open season on everything in my life baby!  Well, the sandwich thing falls more into the category of innocuous ridiculous shit to rant about which is another avenue I take when writing, but that’s another story.  

One of my funniest early comedy stories took place three years ago at my company Christmas party. My colleagues, knowing I had started doing stand up, asked me to perform a little impromptu set.  So I launch into this drunken, unrehearsed and even less refined diatribe about my exploits in the sack with my wife which was more than a little crude.  The younger generation was enjoying it somewhat, but I clearly remember older members of the audience were totally off put by it.  One even approached my wife to console her on my tasteless material, at which point she explained that she helped me write most of it!  The comic I am today does a triple face plant thinking of how stupid I was to do this inexperience or not. In an odd way though, it’s those kinds of experiences along that way that have made me a stronger comic.  I hope to be doing stand up five, ten, fifteen years from now and loving it as much as I do today.  If I should happen to find fame doing this, by all means, bring it on, but the odds are so stacked against it that I could only be doing stand up because I love it.  I do and I’m getting better at it. Right now, that’s good enough for me!
Ed Gougeon (right)

Ed Gougeon

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