Should You Put Your Sets On YouTube

Comics who start out in the area usually ask me this.  I think we all want to appeal to a ton of people and gain a ton of fans and stuff, but in the end it can do more harm than good.  There are times when you absolutely need to have your video online and there are times when you would be best served to just leave it for your private consumption.

Let’s go over scenarios first.  If you just started out and don’t really have much material it is probably best to keep it off the internets.  If you want your friends and family to check out your stuff then you can upload it and set it to private and send them a link to it.  If you are thinking that it will attract tons of fans and start you on the path to stardom then it may not work out like that for you.  The internet is already awash with cat videos, and videos of dudes falling out of trees, and even more important to us comics: other, more well known comedians.  See you have to think of it like this:  If people are looking at videos they have to go through all the videos of people punching a shark or getting ran over by someone in an electric scooter.  If they are specifically looking for stand up then it is even less likely that people will see your video and decide to watch that when they can watch a clip of a comedian they have seen on television and movies.  Now, if they do happen across your video because you have an interesting topic or something, then you have that person judging material that you may not have worked out properly.  In truthfulness, I put up videos that have jokes that I stumbled across while at an open mic, but I watch it to make sure that it is something that I would laugh at.  If you are just starting out and it is one of your first sets, it doesn’t show you in a great light.  People won’t know that that is your third time on stage, and even then because it is the internet and everyone on the internet is a cumsock (patent pending…) they will ridicule your material and you, and that may hurt your confidence way to early (let comedy naturally destroy it).

Ok.  You have been doing it longer than three weeks and you have some material that you want on the YouTubes (I calls it what I wants).  Maybe you want to see if you can get a bunch of views and a tv deal. Well, the tip here is don’t put your entire set up there!  I see so many comedians put their entire 10 minutes on YouTube as if it will help people come out and see you.  The key with YouTube for a comedian is to entice people to come purchase the product.  That means getting them to come see you live.  You aren’t getting anything out of it if they can see your entire show from the comfort of their cell phone.  If you have 5 minutes that you want to put online think about just 2 or 3 minutes. That way the person looking at it will want to see more of you and may just come see you live instead.  What I do is if I have a set recorded that I want to put online then I will find a good section of jokes or maybe just one joke and throw that up there with a screen showing my information.  That way if they like what they see they can come check more of me out.

The final scenario is the person that wants to feature or headline and they get work and just want it mostly for promotional purposes.  First off, give me some of your contacts…I’m begging you man!..er…The same as above applies, you want to tease the audience, but now you have to have a clip or two of your material for potential bookers.  I have several videos on my YouTube page that I send out with my promo package.  If you want to read my post on the video submission just go here.  The key here is to have a video that shows your best side.  If you are trying to get booked with a cruise line then you should not send them a video clip of your pretending to fist a mermaid.  You may want to show the family friendly side of your show.  I have a normal clip where I say the word shit (not just the word shit, there are jokes splattered about) and I send that to clubs and bookers that book those types of rooms where language isn’t that big a deal.  When I am sending stuff off for tv and stuff, I send them my set where I am not cursing.  I have a 3 minute video and a 10 minute video.  This came about because of necessity. I was sending my 3 minute video out to bookers and a couple of them asked for more. I then had to find 10 minutes and I will send them that one if they request it.  The reason I have 3 minutes instead of 5?  I don’t know.  I think that was the stuff I wanted to showcase and I know that these guys aren’t watching an entire 10 minute video.  On the off chance that they are…I got em.

I hope I didn’t come across as pessimistic about putting your material up online for the world to view. There are instances where comics have had their material stolen because they had a good premise and a joke that showed promise, only to have someone in another part of the country snatch it and fix the things that would have probably been fixed naturally and then they watch comedy central to see some guy do their stuff word for word.  When I started putting videos up there no one told me what to do because all of this stuff was still new.  I would put material up and have it shredded to pieces. I wasn’t ready to have that material represent me!  It was online though so it showed anyone looking at comedy my sorry ass telling jokes about drop kicking santa or some dumb shit and that will leave an impression on people.  Now what I do is if I have a bit that I want up, I will put it up there and put in the description that it was from an open mic.  I also stopped putting stuff online that I didn’t really like after watching it again.  Now, I may just be a jaded comic.  I only have about 6k views on my channel. You may fare better.  I hope you do.  I don’t want to see anyone fail, I just want you to understand that it isn’t as harmless as you think.

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2 thoughts on “Should You Put Your Sets On YouTube

  1. Steve Hofstetter, pretty popular comedian, has a great way to share his talent while not giving too much away. He posts a lot of videos of him owning the hecklers in his crowds (and he OWNS them).

    As no heckler bit is rehearsed but comes as a result of whatever the drunk says it is never repeated. But he does it so well that it literally makes people want to go see him live in the hopes there will be a heckler in the crowd….for audiences don’t like hecklers and love to see them get owned.

    He does put up full shows…..LONG after he’s abandoned the material. Which also works well for him because it gives him serious depth. But what made him loved by much of his fan base is the fact that he slaughters any hecklers that dare open their mouths…..

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