Pole dancing and stand-up have a lot in common: there’s a high risk of onstage death, neither career will impress your parents, and both have a love-hate relationship with hen parties.
I feel very lucky that I was a dead-behind-the-eyes stand-up comic before I went anywhere near a pole for the resilience, self-awareness and thick skin you pick up from the comedy trenches. Here’s the stand-up skills I’m applying to my pole dancing training:
1. Re-use your material.
There is no shame in repurposing old stuff. We all get bored of our gear and pulling out the same tricks over and over again, but, sometimes: JUST PLAY THE HITS.
2. The same gear doesn’t work for everyone.
Adam Bloom describes a comedian as a funny person doing material – not a person doing funny material. There’s a similar distinction in pole between somebody pole dancing, and somebody showing you some pole moves. When a poler is doing material that totally suits them as a performer, you don’t watch thinking: “oh now they’re doing a splitty thing, a fast thing, a twisty thing.” You’ll be thinking “wow that person’s flying!” or just “… fuck.”
Some of these factors are to do with body type or style: tricks that look amazing on a voluptuous, filthy extrovert might not be as good for someone who delicately floats around the pole like a little ballerina. Some of it is just vibes. Closing the gap between material you want to do onstage and material that works best for who you are is part of the fun.
3. Copying is the greatest crime
Imitating other people’s routines is how we all learn our craft. But there’s a difference between taking ideas from another artist which you then make into your own, and just copy-pasting all their work. I’m so fascinated by the politics and etiquette of this in pole world that we did a whole Pole the Other One! podcast episode about it.
4. Don’t take anything personally.
So much of this business outside your control. Trends come and go, people project all kinds of weird preconceptions onto you, rejection is part of the job. All you can work on is making your act better and finding ways to put it in front of people. Do your thing, and have fun.