Girlfriend bags and stand-up comedy

Before you start, I know what you’re thinking.  And you’re wrong.  I did not forget that I already posted about a knit bag and I am not being redundant with this post.  If you can’t tell, this is a completely different kind of bag and wholly deserving of its own respective post.  First of all, this a girlfriend bag (not too sure why it’s called that.  It may or may not be an accessory indicating the relationship status of the wearer.) while the previous one was a simple tote.  Secondly, the first bag I made was basically a yarn dump, and it included a bunch of scrap yarn from other old projects (thus the speckled purple and lime green unfortunately lining the bag) while with this, I sincerely tried to make a presentable bag (I’d consider this  particular hue to be an elegant ecru, wouldn’t you?).  Finally, this girlfriend bag is the headliner of my post (if the 1024×682 blow-up of my bag sitting on the 80’s carpeted staircase of my house wasn’t a big enough hint), meaning that you all should go out and make these bags for yourself!

As hard as it is for you to believe, I did not come up with this ingenious pattern on my own!  I pirated this one off of Ravelry, from a certain Laura Spradlin.  So thank you, Laura, for this great pattern!

And for those of you who are still skeptical about the social acceptance of these kind of bags, let me kindly redirect you to one of Sur La Table’s (heard of it?) highest selling items right now:

Look familiar?!  Let me show you another picture to help you guys along.

Yes, that is correct!  My bag is identical to the most popular product (probably not true) made by one of the United States’ highest grossing (definitely not true) kitchenware companies.  Be impressed, because I certainly am.  So, rather than dropping $15 on a Sur La Table grocery bag, why don’t you pick up some old yarn and a pair of knitting needles, tune the channel to a Law and Order marathon, and knit away.

For those of you who keep careful tabs on my posting cycle, you may have noticed that this entry was a tad later than usual.  And to that, I have no reasonable excuse.  I will admit, I have been slacking off on the knitting front, but that is only to make room for my burgeoning new hobby: watching stand-up comedy.  More specifically, watching free stand-up comedy.  And in my extensive 4-week history of attending these venues, I have been to two types of shows.  There have been the free monthly shows that bars and cafes put on to support local comedians (It was here that I learned of my extreme fear of being heckled by a comedian.  It’s the worst.  I break out into sweats and start nodding along with whatever the person is saying.  Honestly, it’s number two after being chained by the ankle in a dark room.) and there has been the free recording for Comedy Central (as it turns out, comedians will put on free shows so they can get a good recording that they can sell to Comedy Central).  And it was at this free recording that I realized I was meant to be in the stand-up comedy business.

Not the actual stand-up performing, of course.  That’s ridiculous.  I’d be too afraid of being heckled by the audience.  Rather, I found my calling as the avid comedy-goer that you sometimes see in shows when the camera turns to members of the audience right after the comedian tells a really funny joke.  You see, at the recording I attended, camera men walked up and down the aisle stopping at certain rows to capture the candid reactions of the audience.  And when the camera fell on me, I knew what they wanted and gave them an unforgettable performance.  I showed enjoyment as well as composure, having both indulgent mirth and satisfaction as well as a sincere respect for the performer.  I expressed the desire for the moment to last while still communicating that I was willing to move onto the next joke.  And when the laughter died down, I executed a controlled decrescendo from my violent (yet serene) laughter to a serene (yet violent) attentive gaze.  To most people, this resembles the canonical laugh, requiring no more effort than a tickle to the funny bone.  But to the artistes and actores in the laughing trade, it is a highly trained skill.  In fact, some might say that there were two performances that night.  I know what you’re thinking: Who knew I had such talent (and arrogance)?

So, if you’re like me and don’t want be in the spotlight, but rather right next to it and have the camera kind of pan over your face every once in awhile, then think about becoming a professional comedy-show-goer.  And to help you along, here’s a rough outline of the three types of scenarios most commonly filmed in a stand-up comedy performance.

1. Warm Up

This is when the comedian is just giving background material for his/her joke.  Nothing funny is going on, so there’s no reason to laugh, but the camera won’t show just a person staring off into space for 3-5 seconds.  Tilt your head to your neighbor without obstructing your face (unless you look better than way) and nod slightly as you mention something to him/her.  Smile as you say it but don’t expect a response.  As soon as you finish tilt your head back to ready and prepare yourself for the joke.  To the cameras it will look like you were reminiscing about the previous joke (saying something like, “that is so true…”) and will act as great inter-joke footage.

2. Set Up

The comedian is starting the story and interjecting several small jokes that may or may not stray from this main storyline.  The audience is laughing, but not nearly as hard as it will be in a few minutes.  At this point, cameras want to see enjoyment but not full-on roaring laughter.  It’s best to stick to a wide grin or silent chuckle that moves the upper half of your body just to reveal to the camera that you’re having a good time.  Or, for the more advanced laughers, a tail end of a laugh (such as the last couple “ha”s that are almost under your breath) might be suitable here, as if you were mulling over the joke again in your head and a small laugh escaped your lips.

3. Punchline

This is where you can tell the amateurs from the all-stars.  Most people let loose and start losing all sense of self awareness.  At this point, the audience is going crazy but you should be in control.  Slowly lift your chin and lower your eyelids are you begin laughing.  Laugh in this position for around one second, and as you lower your chin again, begin nodding along with the joke and open your mouth wider to accomodate a louder laughing.  Depending on the joke, a slapping of the thigh or turning to your neighbor to exchange expressions of “How ridiculously funny was that?!” may be appropriate.  A good, hearty clap may also be used, but only in moderation.

So, there you have it.  Warm up, set up, punchline.  It may take a few years, but I encourage you to practice these three steps until you have them down flawlessly.  Practicing with unfunny dinner guests or unfunny friends (we all have them) will prove invaluable.  You can even practice alone on your bed before you go to sleep (which is what I did last night), and who knows, maybe I’ll end up seeing you on TV one day, laughing up the perfect storm.

***Movie previews, by definition, must precede the featured film and be under 2 minutes 30 seconds, while trailers must follow the featured film and have no time limit.  However, trailers quickly stopped being shown in theaters as no one would stay after the film had ended.

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