Shooting The Funny People
Stand up comedy has always fascinated me. From the unpredictable nature of an audience’s interaction with the comic, to how the room is controlled by just one person on a stage. The combination of the comedian and the audience interaction, produces a variety of emotive responses. Which for me, a professional photographer, is just perfect.
I have always adored comedy, it is my ‘go to’ source for entertainment. From the outrageously funny, to the satirical genius type of comedian; nothing quite beats a comedian live on stage. As a standup comedy lover and photographer, I know there are certain rules to follow during a gig.
Who’s paid to see who?
Firstly do not disturb the comedian. Unless of course you’re daft/drunk enough to think you can take them on, you will enevtaibly lose. Although as a well behaved audience member, I know that a not so well behaved audience member can produce hilarious results.
That rule is very much the same when photographing a comedian. The very first time I had been into a comedy club to capture the performance, I naively wore a white top. That particular top made me look like a “life sized clumsy glow stick running around a dark room”. Of course this amused the comedian and in turn it also amused the audience highly. Since then I have religiously worn all black.
Think Before You Speak.
If you are lucky enough (or on some occasions unlucky enough) to be in the front few rows of stand up gig, you can expect to be seen by the comedian and inevitably be picked out for a Cilla style “what’s your name? where do you come from?” type of conversation. All eyes are on you. My advice is keep calm, it’s their job to be funny, simply answer their questions and much like the last rule; think about it before you try to take them on. You’re probably going to loose, but it will be hilarious.
Similarly to not being seen, I also know that I should not be heard. I arrive at least twenty minutes early, to enable me to work out the pathways around the room. I need to know where to go to avoid crashing into things around the room, lighting equipment, stage rigging, cables and such like, all present a hazard in the dark. (Yes I have done that before). Silence is key for me to capture the comedian and audience organically interacting with each other. They’re my favourite images.
Relax and Enjoy Yourself.
Imagine you’re the comedian. You’ve worked hard for months on a set that you’ve relentlessly tried and tested ready for audiences to enjoy. Then you look out into the audience to see that one person not reacting at all. A crushing blow for anyone to suffer in their line of work, especially the comedy world. It’s equally awful for a photographer to capture. So whenever you go to a comedy gig, remember to relax, enjoy it.
I initially found this part of photographing live stand up gigs a challenge. Back when I first started, I found I was in a sort of professional paradox. I love comedy, I couldn’t possibly not laugh. But then I’m also working so am I not supposed to laugh? The answer in short is even I laugh, I can’t help myself. Laughter or even shocked expressions, provide the best pictures for promotional purposes for both the comedian and the venue.
I have been fortunate enough to find myself working with comedians for a few years, capturing their performances on stage in a variety of venues; from muddy festival tents, to well known comedy venues. I am always on the look out for the next comedy gig that I can go along to and capture it all on camera. The comedian on stage, the audience’s reactions, the crazy moments or the subtle little smiles. I’m passionate about using my skills and experience in photography to capture the whole atmosphere of a stand up comedy performance.
More information about Aberrant Perspectives Stand Up Comedy Photographer:
Follow us on Social Media: