The Promo Package: The Video Submission

If you are trying to get work as a professional comic, there are two very important things you will need.  Last week we discussed the headshot.  That is very important.  It shows that you are serious about being a professional comedian and it let’s the promoter/booker know what the hell you look like.  I think the most important part of the entire package is the video clip you email to them. It is even more important than the headshot.  The headshot is just a snapshot of what you look like when there is a decent camera taking your picture and a editor getting the bags from under your eyes.  The video that you send in to your potential employer is what they are actually paying you for.  Your jokes!  This is where so many comics (myself included) have gone wrong.  Let’s talk about the does and don’t so we all can get more work.

Like I said with the headshot, it maybe best to get someone that knows what they are doing.  Someone that knows about lighting and sound and everything else that it takes to make you look as good as possible.  Remember, you may only have one shot to get in the door with a lot of bookers.  The last thing you want is a crappy video being what you present to them.

Let’s talk about lighting.  This is a big part of video.  If you can’t see anything then it is of no value to anyone. Comedy clubs are famous for being dark. That is why getting away from the camera on your phone is important. Cameras are on about 99% of phones made, but not that many are good enough to be using in such dark environments. There are phones out there that can do some great video however.  Have you bought your phone in the past couple of years?  Then it may be able to provide you with a good video that you can do something with. I would suggest a dedicated camera because they are more likely to have a larger sensor which means it can gather more light and give you a better video.  Have you seen a video that looks really pixelated and stuff?  That is because a lot of cameras that are on phones have smaller sensors and that results in a crunchy look to your videos.  Try getting a friend with a  DSLR to record it for you.  That is the free option.  You can probably get a videographer or photographer to come in and do it for not that much if you are serious.

If you have no choice but to use your phone then please get a stand!  Nothing says amateur like a shaky video.  It also pays to have it away from people that may be talking.  You don’t want someone commenting on your jokes during your performance.

The other big factor in your video is audio.  Again, it pays to have someone that knows that they are doing so you can get a performance that not only looks good but sounds good as well.  Most phones (and cameras) have omnidirectional mics that will pick up everything that is around it.  This is bad for your performance because it will pick up the waiters talking and people clanking glasses and the drug deal that is going on in the back of the club…all things you don’t want a booker to hear.  You want them to focus on you.  Not the grainy security camera video or the fact that he can’t hear you over table 5.  There are options you can use like a dedicated audio recorder and then you can sync the sound up later.  You could buy a mic for your phone that will plug into the headphone jack and provide great sound.  Like this: or something like this: these will focus on your voice (if pointed at the stage) and you can record video and get great sound.  If you have a DSLR get yourself a shotgun mic like the ones from Rode and those will do great as well.

Ok.  So you have the video and it looks great.  Well now you have to edit it.  Make sure it is between 3-5 minutes.  What I have done however is made a 5 minute and a 10 minute video.  That is because I have had some bookers that wanted a longer video and I have one primed and ready to go.

A couple of things you need to be aware of is language and clothing. If you want to get as much work as possible then you may want to go PG-13 in the material department.  Bookers and human.  They may not want to hear you dropping f bombs.  Even if that isn’t your entire act, it is what the bookers will see and they will probably not give you work.  You may also want to consider what you wear.  If you are in a hoodie or in a clown mask you may not get booked.  Just things to consider…Yes, I hate it as well.  You should be able to get on stage buck naked if it gets you work, but I am not the master of the universe…just King Peppersnake.

Don’t send them the file.  Put it on a video sharing site like YouTube and then send them the link.  No one opens a 25mb email. That is just a virus waiting to happen.

I hope your video submission is great.  If you wonder why my writing changed in the middle of this post it’s because I got constipated and this is my descent into madness and non poopiness.

I’m expanding the blog to include some more personal musings.  Those will be probably be on Wednesdays or whenever something cool happens to me…which is usually on a Wednesday.


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