I haven’t been involved in a paid show for about 3 weeks now and when that happens I then go into “I need to be sending my stuff out more mode”. I send out my package and send the emails and get…nothing. This is part of the game when it comes to show business. I can’t expect people to just throw work my way so easily. Comedy is a marathon. You work long on the material, you work longer on developing it and sharpening it to a fine point and then you go all over trying to convince people that you are worth paying. See the problem with that is you have to contend with others doing the same thing and bookers that are pretty entrenched in what they already have. If you are doing just fine with the friends that you have, why would you ever let an “outsider” in there and mess with that.
When it comes to getting the attention of bookers I have always been a “you have to see the show” guy. I don’t know what it is, but I have a terrible time replicating a satisfactory show when I am filming myself. So when I send a potential booker my video of my performance it looks as though it is not my best work. You also have to get their attention. These people get hundreds of email every day from people wanting to work their rooms. So, you can assume that they are not just looking at each and everyone. They may open a couple. They may not open any and stick with what they have. You never know. But you can’t stop trying.
I go through bouts when I am really productive and hitting the pavement and then there are times when I all I want to do is lay in bed and contemplate getting a normal job. The only reason I don’t is that all that comedy entails excites me and makes me want to keep doing it. I may not be the next Louie CK, but our dreams are the same.
Comedy has slowed to a crawl in the Spokane area. The one full time club is done with weekend shows until September. So what is a comic to do? You can travel to Seattle or Portland. If you have the money. I have enough money to get over there maybe once a month, but I can’t manage it more than that. A couple of years ago I was a part of a sketch comedy group, that used to do shows and videos. Well, we are forming up again like a vagabond version of Voltron to do more videos and sketches! I’m excited because writing and filming sketches is something I have been wanting to do again for a long time. Now that comedy is slowing down, I can focus on this and still keep the creative juices flowing. It’s all about keeping your head in a creative space.
Going to be heading over to Seattle later next month (June) to be a part of a little competition. I am not a fan of competition, especially when the judging involves the audience, but I have to get out of Spokane every now and then. I do so much comedy in Spokane that I feel weird whenever I leave the area to do comedy. When I was in the midwest last year doing comedy, I felt like none of those shows actually went as planned. Seattle is a little better. I don’t know if it is because of the more open nature of a large city or what, but the more stuff I do over there the better I feel when I get off stage and that is important.
Since this competition is about how the audience approves of you, all you have to do is stack the crowd and you can win whatever it is they are giving away. I am not approaching this like I am trying to win. I am going in looking to form relationships. See comedy is worldwide, but so few people have the proper connections that it is very important to form bonds with people. I have gotten more work from other comics I know then anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I will try to go over there and melt the walls, but I understand that if someone stacks the deck they will end up winning. If I go over with another goal, I can leave not feeling cheated.
Summer is fast approaching and for a low tier comic not in a big city this is when all my shows dry up and I basically become a bum. Spokane is not known for comedy in the first place, but once the sun starts batting away the cold wind and flurries, comedy clubs and bars become ghost towns for comedy. Now, people will point out the obvious, that it is a correct response to be trapped in your house for 4 to 5 months. In my eyes I don’t see it like that. I think that more work is required to get people’s attention to other things than just sitting by the lake.
For the past two years I have been taking part in the local clubs summer comedy series. That is just a fancy name for shows that happen when the comedy season is over. The comedy season starts from September to about the end of April. Think of it like a network show. Anyway, what I usually do is make a couple of flyers and advertise the hell out of it. The first time I did it I got an almost packed house. Last year was lower, but still impressive seeing as how the club itself could not get that many people in there.
So, you may ask what does a lower tier comic in a medium sized metro area do during these two or three months when no one wants him. Well, I will tell you because I’m nice like that. I usually try to do one off shows in a bar or in the club mentioned earlier. Then I pick up the slack for bookers in bigger cities. See here is the cool thing about show business, there are many people out there that are slackers, so I will come to the rescue of a booker or friend in need and do a show when they have a drop out. That usually means I can’t plan anything because I may be gone at the last minute, but it is not that big of a deal anyway when your days consist of player video games and trying to book shows for the fall. Other than that though it is just a lot of sitting around working on things I didn’t have time to work on during the times I am heavily booked. Like head shots and bios and stories for my short story book that I am writing.
Another thing I am going try this year is getting out to Seattle and Portland. There you can met people who were also busy as hell during the fall and get more connections. It’s alway work, but the cool thing is that I love it.
Shout out to Troy Kirby for kicking me in the ass and getting me back up on the horse. With friends like this it will be a heart attack that takes me out and not alcoholism.
Comedy is one of those businesses where it is up to you to make things work. Yes, some people have the luxury of being extremely lucky. They may walk into a comedy club on the night that some big talent scout is there and be on a sitcom by lunch. For most of use, it is a steady stream of rejection and mediocrity until you either are good enough to push through any obstacle or you give up and start working as a cashier at Safeway.
So, when I was frustrated at the way my comedy career was heading I asked my good friend Troy to help. He game me an outline and I have tried to adhere to it. It is mainly about getting more attention for you and your comedy through social media, probably the greatest blessing for comics since amplified voice devices. What I am attempting to do is draw people (you) into me as an artist and a person. So with that in mind, I am doing things a little differently.
First, is the laziness in which I go about areas like twitter and Instagram. I will be putting more stuff on both of those so please follow me on twitter (@harryjriley) and Instagram (mozaralla stick). Then I will be doing anything on Google Plus. Just something. Because I was doing nothing on it before. I have a fan page on facebook in which I am supplying more than just show dates and I will be posting more stuff on youtube. It will not just be me doing stand up. It will be a vlog style show about almost anything. I am still trying to figure out the name, but until I get my gear I am still in the planning stages of that. This is me trying to put more into my comedy career then just working at bars. Let’s see where it goes.