My brother, Sean Keane, is a very funny guy (if you think I’m biased, just ask the SF Weekly). Today is Sean’s birthday, so it has me thinking about Sean and comedy. Building a career as a stand-up is a tough one. It takes no small amount of guts and hard work to show up at various settings where stand-up comedy takes place: laundromats; sketchy nightclubs; college auditoriums, and eventually on to the top local venues (in the bay area, these being the SF Punchline and Cobbs Comedy Club).
I have proudly watched Sean’s career move from many of the former to the latter venues and frequent out-of-town gigs. More than once, I have admired how Sean gets on stage again and again. When I first started teaching yoga, it was petrifying enough to be teaching a group of people. I could not imagine the pressure of standing on a stage and making people laugh.
It got me thinking about the parallels between stand-up comedy and teaching yoga. Both require public speaking, some advance preparation, and ability to improv and play to the energy of the crowd. Here is a point-by-point comparison of comedy and yoga, determining which one has the advantage for each aspect of the job:
Comedy: Keep people laughing
Yoga: Keep people breathing
Edge: Comedy (if you are Sean)
Average Set Time:
Comedy: 10-45 minutes
Yoga: 60-90 minutes
Edge: Draw. If you are eating it on stage, you do not have long to win back the audience. On the other hand, you only have to sink for a brief time before the set is over. If you’re teaching a yoga class that is not going well, you have time to turn it around for the better. On the other hand, it might be a long class…
Comedy: Endless open mics
Yoga: Minimum 200-hour registered program
Edge: Yoga. I can’t think of much scarier things than continually getting up on stage at open mics.
Yoga: coconut water
Edge: Comedy. Plus alcohol tastes much better than coconut water.
Physical Interactions with Crowd:
Comedy: Aggressive heckling
Yoga: Hands-on adjustments
Edge: Yoga. Why is it some people do not realize what happens when one chooses to sit in the front row at a comedy show?
Comedy: People in drunk, happy laughter
Yoga: People in savasana
Edge: Draw. Generally it’s easier to get people to laugh than it is to get them to relax. But if you’re Sean, the laugh part is not a problem.
Happy Birthday Brother Sean!