If you want to make people laugh for a living, stand-up comedy might just be your calling. If you want to be booed off stage for a living, stand-up comedy is also the perfect career path for you. As strange as that may sound, according to local comedian Tommy McGuan, both are the keys to comedy success.
McGuan, a Canyon Country native, attended California State University, Chico upon graduating from Canyon High School, where he majored in history. He began his comedy pursuits three years ago when he asked a friend, who had dabbled in stand-up comedy, to critique his material.
To McGuan’s surprise, rather than just giving criticism, his friend booked him to perform a set at the former Formosa Café in West Hollywood. As many as 33 of his friends came out to support him, and what was originally a few-minutes set turned into a 10-minute performance roaring with applause.
“I was grateful for the support from my friends,” McGuan said. “I thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
But not every experience has been as amazing as his first in West Hollywood. McGuan’s comedy ride has been filled with surprises. Most comedians have had their fair share of bad sets, a practice otherwise referred to as “bombing,” and McGuan is definitely no exception.
“I did a show in Paris while I was backpacking through Europe. I had done stand-up six times. I thought, ‘I could do it!’ [The producer] put me on, and it was awful,” McGuan laughed. “The crowd was so close to booing me. The producer sat there with his head in his hands. I didn’t know if I could be a comedian.”
That was one bomb of many, according to McGuan.
“I didn’t perform for a couple months after that show. … For the next year I just bombed. That’s when I realized my material actually wasn’t good. If I wanted to be as good as I wanted to be, I would have to put the work into it.”
The work McGuan put into his set eventually paid off, and he reached a point where he had developed an hour of usable material. He recently had the opportunity to film his first special last week at The Main in Newhall, and hopes to eventually pitch the special to an online streaming service, such as Hulu or Crackle.
McGuan has also helped create a local comedy series called Garage Chronicles, stand-up comedy performances that take place in garages and backyards, bringing the comedy scene straight to Santa Clarita.
For more information about Tommy McGuan and his work, visit his website at http://www.tommymcguancomedy.com/.