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Brian McKim p3

One of Brian McKim's techniques for creating gags and stringing them together for a standup routine...

READERSVOICE.COM: What’s your daily routine in Las Vegas? Do you try to write a certain number of gags per week?

BRIAN McKIM: I’ve been a professional comic since getting canned in 1984. I was managing editor at an obscure photography magazine based in Philly and I held the job while doing open mikes and occasionally hitting the road when I could squeeze it in on weekends. I was prolific in the early years, as is necessary, but, owing to personal circumstances and other factors, my output would ebb and flow (as is probably natural for most artists).
I am not disciplined– I don’t set aside “writing time”– but I am fairly conscientious about writing down ideas, premises, jokes, etc. A lot of that depends on having a venue that enables me to try out material. Here in Vegas (where I’ve lived since 2011), I have only briefly been able to take advantage of a venue that was conducive to trying out gobs of new material. Most of the time, I try out material two or three jokes at a time, inserted among tried and true material, so my adaptation of new material has proceeded at a glacial pace. (Although, I look back at set lists from just a few years back and often exclaim, “Hey! I totally forgot about those jokes! I never do those any more!” so maybe I am being unnecessarily hard on myself! Each comic finds his or her level of production!)

RV: Do you actively look for ideas, or do they just come organically, like do you hear a phrase like “ex-girlfriend” and think that’s what someone might call their wife?

BMcK: I have a habit of seizing on a phrase or expression then working backward and writing a setup that plays on some incongruity or absurdity inherent in the phrase. Wordplay is one of my main tools. But I “hide” it or bury it, then write more companion jokes, or see connections among other jokes, then marry them to the newer jokes, creating a narrative that seems less like one-liners strung together.

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