Lessons Learned - DJ Hazard
The other night I was fortunate enough to catch DJ Hazard headlining at Mottley’s Comedy Club in Boston, MA. It’s always amazing getting to check out guys who have been doing the stand-up thing exponentially longer than I have because it reminds me of how little I know. As a comic we spend endless amounts of time thinking about our character on stage. Who do we want to be? How is the audience perceiving that person? Do certain types of jokes potentially disturb the “rules” of that character?
Hazard is amazing to watch largely because his character seems so opposite of audience expectations. He is an enormous man, who, upon first glance, seems like he would largely use aggressive yelling and provocative intimidation as the groundwork for his act. However, Hazard is almost the complete opposite. His character and, from what I can see, his personality are deeply rooted in a true sincerity. He is jarringly polite to his audience and kind with his word choice. He immediately surprises the crowd, not as a big bull of a man, but a warm, almost heartfelt bull of a man. Subsequently, the audience seems far more deeply in tune with his jokes because they are immediately charmed by their distorted expectations. He creates intrigue, not through his disturbing language, but instead the ways in which he fails to disturb.
It really does say a lot about how much control we as comedians have. Too often, I go up on stage, and feel like I am a victim to the audiences expectations, but the truth is I am only a victim to what I allow them to believe. As a performer, I do not have to limit myself to the expectations of my appearance, and in breaking those expectations I am creating intrigue and commitment from the audience that may not have previously existed.