Recently I heard Louis C.K. being interviewed on The Howard Stern Show. After Howard asked Louis if he ever changes his act when he’s performing at bigger venues, like Madison Square Garden, Louis revealed some great advice for performing songwriters and singers to latch onto. He said:
I never change my act no matter what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter… In the end it’s what you do. When I watch guys on… America’s Got Talent… When I watch singers on TV… I always wish I was a judge. I would ask them… “Do you know what the song’s about? That [song] you just sang?”
They always have this look like, “I want to be a star!” It’s what they’re saying with the song.
I remember a guy on American Idol. He was singing “Folsom Prison Blues,” and he’s, like, excited…
Do you know what this song is about? He shot a man in Reno just to watch him DIE… Now he’s lamenting his mother and… has no way to turn back. And you’re singing it like you’re excited. Like it’s a birthday party.
In the end, if you’re Johnny Cash — whoever you’re playing to — you’re thinking “I sing for the forsaken sinners of the world.” That’s what’s in your heart, right?…
Louis C.K. went on to say:
Like Clay Aiken singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water…” He’s winking. Literally winking at people. And pointing… [but] this is the SADDEST song ever written! This is the most depressing song in the world…
So when you do a big show… just think “What is my act?”
It’s so important to align your performance with the song’s meaning. What Louis C.K. said in this interview really drove home that concept. Always keep in mind what your song means and let THAT be what’s projected in your delivery, if you really want to make a connection with your audience.
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