Where Snakes Go For Good Fitting Pants

I have been trying to stay busy this year, but I have been getting a case of the “tireds”.  I have to force myself to sleep then when I do wake up I am still tired, like I wasted eight hours of my life.  I do have this thingy from the VA that is suppose to blast me with blue light to give me that kick of Vitamin D my body’s been craving, but sometimes I forget to turn it on when I get up, or I do and I forget that I have to be near it.  Doesn’t work when you are in the other room watching courtroom shows.

I have teamed up with a local comic to put on debate type shows.  I was reluctant to do this because wrangling comics is not one of my strong suits.  I also didn’t want to get blamed for anything if things fell through.  We are doing it monthly, which we will see if something like this can be sustained monthly.  The problem with running a show is maintaining the momentum that you initially had.  Sure, the first month is great, but what happens when in month four, you don’t do as well?  That is when a lot of lesser willed people would start slacking off…I guess we will see if I am one of those people.

Photography has slowed down, so I have been trying to better my technique and start up some projects.  I think I want to get into stock photography and fine art photography a little more.  Hell, I live in the Inland Northwest! Some of the most beautiful land in the states!  I need to get my name out there somehow as someone that can deliver good photos, but like most people that are doing a lot of things at the same time, I bounce around and can’t really focus on the one thing.

Advertisements

Breaking Into The Comedy Club Scene

Here is the truth about most (80% I would say) comedy clubs.  It is hard to get into their rotation.  Think about it like this, club owners are like most people in that they like stable and they like what works.  So, if they have a solid lineup of comics that come in and do their thing, then they have no need to add new people.  What a lot of comics forget is that these guys are running a business and so if they can get someone they know will come in and give a decent performance and keep people buying stuff, then they will go with that.  Comedy club owners are not in the business of making YOUR career.  They sell drinks and chicken strips.  There are ways to break into these comedy clubs if you are willing to do it.

One of the tried and true methods for getting into a comedy club is going with someone that is already established.  The club runner already knows that guy and if you can come in for a guest or better yet a feature, you can maybe parlay that into more work in that room later.  This works great if you are a feature act because most clubs will cull local talent instead of bringing in outside features.  It’s just economics.  It cost less to get a local comic that doesn’t need a hotel room, and (probably) will take less money.

If you don’t know any headliners that you can go with, you can always get a recommendation from a comic that has worked there before.  Now, this is always weird because there are comics are out there that won’t want to put their name behind you.  So that is why you have to ask someone that thinks you are a good comic! Don’t ask the comic that came through town last week and you added them on facebook just to ask them to vouch for you.  If you have been doing it long enough to think you are ready to work comedy clubs across the country, then you should know enough people in comedy that are comfortable enough with telling the club runner or booker that you are a good fit for the club.

This is the long route, but I think it is a good one if you just started out.  If you live near a comedy club, then you should be in there getting face time.  That means hitting their open mics and trying to get guest sets.  This is much harder to do in large cities, so if you live in New York or something, don’t think you can just show up and get a guest set at The Cellar.  By doing their open mics you are less likely to see the club runner because they may not be there every week, but the club staff will notice you and your name can build.  Getting guest sets increases your chance of getting seen by the club owner, so get that if you can.  This can also bite you in the ass because if you bomb, they will remember that as well. To go with this, just keep in contact with these guys, and maybe if they have a fall out in the schedule you can snap it up.  This is random so you can’t depend on it (you maybe number 97 on the list), but if you have tried everything else it is worth a shot.

I have been doing comedy for more than 10 years now and I have done a handful of full time comedy clubs. They are great because you don’t have to drive all over the place everyday.  You can make more money though in other areas of comedy if you are willing to take the risk.  If you have a good promotional head about you, then you should not be thinking about comedy clubs and instead try to get into small theaters and the like.  There is a possibility of making more money, which means not having to work as hard to get as much as someone that is only doing comedy clubs.

There are clubs in Seattle and Portland that I have been trying to break into for about 6 years now.  It is a little harder for someone that lives so far away because you are not getting that face time that can lead to work in these clubs and there is that stigma that Spokane has on it.  I don’t worry about all that, and you shouldn’t either.  Just make you material tack sharp and keep what I said above in mind.  If you can get super famous as well that would be great.

Tips For Sucessfully Submitting To Festivals And Competitions

I get asked a lot how to properly submit to festivals and competitions.  Like most anti-social individuals, I am often learning this the long way because I am afraid of just asking someone.  So I have compiled a list of what is MORE LIKELY to work.  There is nothing that is for sure gonna work unless you know the people putting on the festival or competition.

Great head shots are a must!  Even in this day and age, I see people with headshot from their friend’s iphone or a compact camera and I just get sad inside.  Not because they didn’t come to me, but because it shows!  The people that put on festivals and competitions look at hundreds of head shots and they can tell which ones came from a person knowing how to do head shots and from someone that was too cheap to get someone to do it for them properly.  It gives off the impression that you are not serious about it, and if you are not taking it seriously, then why should they.  Depending on where you live, it can be expensive, but if you are serious about comedy, you need them done and done right.

Rewrite your bio.  You know that bio that you sent to that one booker?  Well, if you are submitting to a festival or competition I suggest you either write another, or you just truncate the one you currently have. Just get it to the point.  They are usually looking for the cool stuff you have done, so throw that on there.  You placed in a competition somewhere?  Great!  Throw it on there!  You opened for Elvis during Christmas…ok…throw it on there!  If you are like me, and your bio isn’t as flowery as others, it can be a little hard to get people to want to give up a prime spot just to you, but if you wow em with what you did, that may help over come that.

Submit sooner rather than later.  Now, I don’t have numbers, so this is just my opinion, but I feel the sooner you submit, the greater your chances of getting selected.  This may be because of several reasons, maybe the later the submission timeframe the more they think you don’t want to do it.  Maybe just because of human nature, but the majority of the submissions are coming in so they ignore most of the later ones.  Or, I could just be wrong, but with my own examples (again not meant to be seen as absolute), when I submitted early I got in and when I waited until the last couple of weeks I didn’t.

Have a good video.  Make sure the video is one in which you can be heard more than the wait staff.  Make sure that you are not blown out.  A great video makes it look as though you know what you are doing.  Like I said earlier, you have to look like you are a comic and not just some weirdo wasting everyone’s time.  Make sure the link works before you send it.  Put it up on YouTube, you can have it unlisted if you just want to submit it and not have other’s watching it, and then just copy the link and paste it into the submission form.

Here is a very important thing to understand about festivals and competitions.  They by themselves will not make or break your career.  If you are depending on a competition to get you all the work you need then you are thinking about it all wrong.  If you submit and send in your stuff and you didn’t get selected, don’t get mad at the organizers, look within.  Did you send everything they asked for?  Did you not have your video link right? Did you forget to pay the submission fee? Did you not submit at all and just thought they should know you wanted to do it? If all of that was done, then it could just mean that they had everyone they needed or that your submission wasn’t as strong as the others that submitted. This doesn’t mean you are a terrible comic or anything, it just means that you will have to try again next year.

They Won’t Get You

Following you passions can be a lonely road.  It doesn’t matter what it is you do, if it isn’t get a “normal” job, then there will always be doubters ready to tell you that you are wasting your time.  What is even harder is that there are more people out there that haven’t done it then there are people that have.  It doesn’t matter if you are a comedian, actor, writer, MMA fighter, or lion tamer, you have to understand one key thing:  They won’t get you.

Your friends and family will never understand the lengths you will go to pursue your passion.  They don’t understand why you will drive for hours for a minimum sum of money.  Why you write.  Why you perform. They can’t understand that in order to do what you love, you have to devote a lot of time to it for little return, with hopes that one day it will all be worth it.  They don’t understand that your worst fear is doing what they are doing, working a 9 to 5 for someone else, just to keep paying rent and having health insurance.  They don’t understand why someone would pursue something so feverishly.  Like I said, they won’t get you.

While I have been pursuing stand-up as a profession, I have had two girlfriends, and countless friends ask me why I am doing it.  Why don’t you use that degree?  Why don’t you work here?  Why don’t you work there? What someone that isn’t like me (or you) will never understand is how soul crushing your everyday job can be. My mind is not suited for sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, only to shower and do it again the next day.  I have tried it, especially when there were bills pilling up, but once I got the bills taken care of, I went back to my passions.  Some military friends, before one show, told me how silly it was to do this after getting my degree and everything else I did in my life.  I just walked away knowing that they didn’t get me.

All people have a passion, it’s just that most of them decide to play it safe, only to regret it when they are on their deathbeds.  For those of you that took that chance to follow your dreams, just know that there are others just like you.  Others that decided to take the chance at true and pure happiness. The kind of happiness that comes from baring all and creating something that others can take part in and enjoy.  Even if everyone else doesn’t, we get you.

My Time At Idaho Laughfest 2016

I just got back from Idaho laughfest 2016.  I never really know what to make of festivals.  I am alway weary when someone ask me to pay to perform, but at the same time, it is a great place to meet comedians and get connections you normally wouldn’t.  I can only tell you about the shows in which I performed and saw at Liquid Laughs.  I didn’t really go to any of the other shows that were taking place in other venues.

My first show was at 7pm, and when I got there it was packed with people.  Liquid Lounge, where the comedy club is located, is in a nice busy section of downtown Boise.  It was great to see a packed house on a Thursday at 7pm!  I was a couple spots from the bottom so I just settled in and waited my turn.  I noticed that I looked like someone that didn’t want to be talked to (which is not why I came there) and so I put the iPad away and tried to look less scary.  When I got up I had a pretty good set.  The crowd was feeling it and, just like in 2009, I felt as though Boise was a pretty hip comedy town.  I felt like the other comics each brought something cool to the table.  I honestly felt like a fraud because I don’t think I put that much time into the wording of my jokes like I feel a lot of other comedians do.

The second night I had a midnight show.  I was a little worried about the turnout.  I have never done a midnight show, but it doesn’t sound like a show with standing room only.  I was right.  By the time the show was underway there were about 20-30 people there.  I was the next to last person to go on and by that time the number had dwindled considerably.  This doesn’t bother me.  I have performed for way less people.  I went up and did a couple of jokes that bounce around in my head, but I never do.  They worked really well! Now, I don’t know if that is because they got the references or if they were actually funny, but they dug it and I will count it.  I was a little disheartened, by my set though.  I felt as though I went to my comedic crutch of talking about balls and cursing, which is something I have made an effort to shy away from.

The last night of the show, I had a spot on the last show if the festival.  It was so freaking packed when I got there, and I hoped that it would be the same for the shows we did.  It was!  Packed house and I am third from last.  I didn’t know what I was going to do material wise, so I just went with what I usually do in a situation like that.  I go with the jokes I like at the moment and mix it in with a couple of newer jokes.  It was my best set of the festival I felt.  I felt good coming off the stage and I think people seemed to enjoy themselves.

The best part about the whole thing is that I was able to connect with a lot of comics and got a lot of potential work out of it.  That was my goal and I am glad I was able to accomplish that.  I also got to perform at Liquid Laughs which I hope will lead to work there as well.  I got to met a lot of cool comedians and make a lot of new friends.  My opinion on comedy festivals has been steadily changing over the years and I think if you have the ability, you should at least try to get on a festival.  It could help put some work on your schedule.