Here's some feedback: Keep your opinions to yourself! | Sonia Aste doesn't take criticism well...

Here's some feedback: Keep your opinions to yourself!

Sonia Aste doesn't take criticism well...

I’m fed up and not taking it anymore! Next time someone asks ‘Can I give you some feedback?’

I’ll respond ‘You could … but I’d rather eat nails’.

It will be less painful than listening to a smug idiot tell me things I already know, without offering any solution.

‘Your ending is weak … maybe work on your ending?’

Oh! Really? I was going to work on my macramé.

‘Try changing your punchlines to something punchier.’

How insightful!

The word ‘feedback’ is defined as ‘information used as a basis for improvement’.

Improvement? If anyone really wants to help … find me a paid gig. Failing that please shut up, because the only feedback I need is my grandmother’s who says I’m the funniest person eveerrr … (and she doesn’t even speak English).

Besides, stand-up comedy provides more harsh feedback than a man-o-pausal Simon Cowell on X-Factor.

I’ll start with Audience Contribution feedback (AC for short), which comes in two basic forms:

POSITIVE:  people laugh, clap and can’t get enough, they think I’m funny

NEGATIVE: people frown and look at me as if I’m explaining triple integrals. I’m not. Triple integrals are not funny. Except when you try to solve them and then I laugh hysterically… but that’s another story.

Then there is Drop-Bucket Collection feedback (also known as DC). AC & DC follow each other and are directly proportional. DC can be anything from £0 up to a whopping £16 when a massive crowd of 21 have been very generous.

Sandwich feedback is made up of three steps: commend, recommend, commend. This is usually provided by people who hold a management position and have taken a course on how best to give annual appraisals without getting a black eye.

Shit Sandwich feedback is an offshoot of ‘sandwich’ except there’s no cushion, just brutal excrement, as when a promoter said:

‘You aren’t funny.’

‘No one laughed.’

‘Why did you leave your job at the bank?’

Not even a dozen Andrex toilet rolls complete with cute puppies can clean up that shitty mess. And for the record, No. I can’t get my old job back. They say I’m overqualified. Which really means: (guffaw) ‘Ha ha ha!’

Then there’s pity feedback, which is self-explanatory and occurs after a bad gig when a sympathetic person catches me at the bar drowning my sorrows: ‘Sniff, sniff, I’m a failure’.

‘Your voice projected well…’

Thanks. It’s called a microphone.

‘I love your outfit.’

I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt?

‘They don’t give you much time do they?’

I did 20 minutes – how long do I need to prove that I’m funny? 

Finally there is handheld feedback. This is when a more experienced act watches your performance and provides you with a dedicated ‘one to one’.

I got very good advice, although I wasn’t too keen on holding hands while listening to all the information.

Don’t get me wrong I have gotten some great feedback. Problem is that it seems you can’t give positive feedback without adding the negative. (Exception is Aunt Agusta who is on her deathbed and when I visit everyone tells her ‘You’ve never looked better’.)

The lesson to take is not so much discarding feedback, but providing a bit more of the positives (also known as praise).

I myself have started praising fellow acts when things go well.

‘You were brilliant!’

‘Great joke!’

Funny thing is that I’m not really doing it for them. I’m doing it for myself. Because I have learned that when you start praising others, it’s easier to praise yourself.

• Sonia Aste tweets here. Her website is here.

Published: 7 Feb 2017

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