Comedy Career Q & A, Part 3: Headlining Energy

Alicia: I noticed I wasn’t really feeling like I could be myself and it wasn’t making me funnier or better as a comic. It was just making me shrink. It’s not that I don’t admire and respect that process and want to be a part of it, but I need to create a bubble for me to develop my voice, to be able to be in a safe little container first, before bringing my work out to bigger audiences and my style of performing happens to be the intimate style and so a living room works very well for me.

People have different styles of how they perform and so how they succeed and so like Jill said, play into your strengths. If you’re the kind of person that should be in a stadium or you’re kind of like performing at the audience and that’s how it goes well, you probably shouldn’t be in a living room.

Able: Yeah, I guess I used to watch marathons and standup comedy in high school and comedy central still showed specials and I feel like I belong on stage in front of a huge like audience. So I guess to take that path of having to perform in front of drunk audiences until I can get to that magical I’m a headliner space is discouraging. I don’t know if there is another way to get there.

Alicia: Yeah, for me to get to that path was that I created a headlining set, which actually was a solo show. I kept thinking I’m writing set and it turned into basically it was called the punchline and it was about my desire to be a famous headlining comic and everything that gets in my way.  So, I kind of ended up making this solo show about comedy, in which I do comedy. But I also sing and dance and basically tell the story of why I’m not where I want to be. And in the telling of that story, I finally succeeded! It was the first time that I really got some recognition. Because I was being honest and real, which for whatever reason I wasn’t able to pull off in that same way in the standup stage. Because maybe that just wasn’t my crew. My suggestion would be for you to create the set that you would do if you were a headliner.

Able: Okay.

Alicia: What is that set?

Able: Yeah.

Alicia: And then find a place to perform it. And then work it out and go alright, film it. How’d this go? Where was it funny? What went well? What about how I’m doing this is embodying headlining energy.

Able: Okay.

Alicia: And I don’t mean some stereotype of that but like you as a headliner. Who is Abel as a headliner?

Able: Okay.

Alicia: Which is completely different from who I am as a headliner. You know but like when someone walks on stage, you feel their energy, you feel oh this person has just started performing. You feel whoa, okay, I might not agree with what this person is saying, but they know what the f- they’re doing on stage.

Able: Yeah.

Alicia: It’s just there and so how can you begin to cultivate that energy for yourself and then how can you begin to find a combination of producing your performances and putting yourself out there enough to get gigs that are appealing to you and say no to gigs that are not appealing to you. So what is a show that would be fun for you to work material out at that’s convenient to be at regularly where you’re still in the process of performing and you’re doing it but it doesn’t kill your soul.

Alicia Dattner

Comedian and Creatrix Alicia Dattner is an internationally-acclaimed, award-winning performer who loves to help others use the power of humor to transform their lives and write a new unfolding story for the world.


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