All the other stuff comics "should" be doing besides standup (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1, this is an email convo I had with Myq Kaplan. Tonight at 9pm (EST) on NBC, Last Comic Standing airs a show with the 10 finalists. Myq is one of them. And ya can even vote for him (watch show for details).


If you just want to be a standup, focus on becoming the best standup that you can be.

I guess this is the part I wonder about. Let's say you just want to be a standup. It STILL seems like to really get to the upper ranks you need to do something else to get exposure to fill seats (and make money). Patton Oswalt on "King of Queens," Mulaney on SNL, Jeselnik/Morgan Murphy writing for Fallon, etc. Why did/do they go this route instead of doing the "pure" standup route? Wouldn't almost everybody prefer to do a just standup total control thing if they could?

I've heard tales of management sitting down with a prospective client and saying, "You need to give me scripts. You need to go out on auditions. What else do you have? Etc." Can you just tell 'em that you only want to do standup and that's fine? Or will they walkaway cuz there's no real $ in that end of things for them.

Maybe it's ok if you're a guy that's just so outstanding like Bill Burr...but even for him it's taken, what, 15 years?

I like the idea of focusing purely on standup and doing nothing else. But sometimes I wonder if that's being naive. That even if you only want to do standup that you need to be doing other comedy stuff along the way. Or just be alright with being a road dog who scrapes by for years until the public finally realizes your brilliance which will totally happen eventually. Right?! Er.

Reminds me of Hedberg's old bit:

When you're in Hollywood and you're a comedian, everybody wants you to do other things. All right, you're a stand-up comedian, can you write us a script? That's not fair. That's like if I worked hard to become a cook, and I'm a really good cook, they'd say, "OK, you're a cook. Can you farm?"


I guess this is the part I wonder about. Let's say you just want to be a standup. It STILL seems like to really get to the upper ranks you need to do something else to get exposure to fill seats (and make money). Patton Oswalt on "King of Queens," Mulaney on SNL, Jeselnik/Morgan Murphy writing for Fallon, etc. Why did/do they go this route instead of doing the "pure" standup route? Wouldn't almost everybody prefer to do a just standup total control thing if they could?

What about Jake Johannsen and Brian Regan? I'm sure they've done things other than just standup, but for the most part, isn't that what they're known for? Same with a number of other people, I imagine... Gaffigan might have done some acting, but is that what raised his standup profile? I feel like he's most famous for doing what he does on stage. Same with Todd Barry--sure, he does voiceover work and acting, but I feel like a lot of that came from how successful he was with standup, and not the reverse. You bring up Hedberg, and he's another great example of a guy who got bigger and bigger pretty much just from his standup. What about Dom Irrera, Greg Giraldo, Maria Bamford, Ted Alexandro, Stanhope (though he did the Man Show, I'm pretty sure his main fan base was built mainly despite that)... again, I don't know all about all their careers, just that I know them all for doing mainly standup. And let's not forget Dane Cook... (Just saying, it seems a lot of people may have reached the upper echelons with mostly just standup. Or if not the upper echelons, echelons that are high enough.)

As for Anthony Jeselnik writing for Fallon, as I understand it, it was initially because he really wanted a job writing jokes all day so it was perfect, and that eventually he experienced a longing to have his time free again to do standup, so I don't think it was a choice that he was making to have a stepping stone. I think he was doing what he wanted to do with each decision regarding that job.

I definitely don't think EVERYONE would prefer to just do standup. There are some people who enjoy not having to travel and leave a family maybe, having a steady job or a ritual, having health benefits, working with people, all kinds of things... As for all the others you mentioned, I don't know what's in most of those people's heads individually, but I do know that I'M mostly interested in just doing standup, and even I would certainly be happy to write for a late night show for some period of time, to see what it's like, to get some more diverse comedic experience, etc. I'd be happy to do it, but I don't feel like I NEED to do it.

I mean, if the choice were magically mine (as opposed to mine in combination with the universe's circumstances) where I got to determine exactly how much I worked and exactly what kind of work I did, would I choose to have a 9-5 writing every day waking up in the morning to go work for someone else, vs. being able to just perform shows at night for audiences that came to see me? Almost certainly the latter.

I've heard tales of management sitting down with a prospective client and saying, "You need to give me scripts. You need to go out on auditions. What else do you have? Etc." Can you just tell 'em that you only want to do standup and that's fine? Or will they walkaway cuz there's no real $ in that end of things for them. Maybe it's ok if you're a guy that's just so outstanding like Bill Burr...but even for him it's taken, what, 15 years?

Well, you're talking about what it takes to get to the upper ranks, and what it almost always takes no matter what is time, talent, and work. 15 years, that's the time. Talent, you can't control. Work, that's what we're talking about. It all depends on what kind of work you WANT to do, and what kind of career you WANT to have.

And there's the additional factor of luck. Which you have no control over. Some people can make it to the upper ranks with a couple youtube videos that get millions of hits, but that can't be controlled for. I think it would be foolish to just start making videos HOPING that will happen, because it's so out of the ordinary. It's not foolish to make videos if you enjoy making videos. Or even if you just want to have them in your portfolio, to demonstrate that you are a well-rounded creator to potential industry whose attention you might seek.

Yes, of course, I agree that being a multi-talented artist can be more attractive to someone trying to sell you, because you have more places you can be sold. Here's the thing though--if you're not interested in doing anything but standup NOW also doesn't mean you'll always feel that way. And a manager-client relationship in comedy is usually a long-haul one, ideally. If a manager is sitting down with you AT ALL, it means they like what they've seen you do, and if all you've done is standup, then that's what they like. If you don't have any scripts right now, no interest in going on auditions right now, maybe that could be a deal-breaker for some representation. But I know for certain that there are managers who work with people who are just doing standup. It happens. It exists.

I like the idea of focusing purely on standup and doing nothing else. But sometimes I wonder if that's being naive. That even if you only want to do standup that you need to be doing other comedy stuff along the way. Or just be alright with being a road dog who scrapes by for years until the public finally realizes your brilliance which will totally happen eventually. Right?! Er.

Maybe you are being naive in thinking that doing other comedy stuff in addition to standup will necessarily lead to where you want to be. Because I'm not clear on where you want to be. If you love doing standup, do standup. If you love doing other things, do other things. If you want a lot of money, go to med school. Or law school. Or other rich person school.

There are plenty of brilliant comedians who will never be widely recognized. Some of them will make a great living on the road, or on cruise ships, or doing corporates, or colleges. Some of them might be writing pitches and selling screenplays. Some of them will be sad and hungry and poor.

Obviously all of life is a gamble. We all want to enjoy ourselves now AND try to ensure that we'll be enjoying ourselves later--emotionally, physically, financially. We have to make some sacrifices in the now in the hopes that it will pay off in the later. And we never know what's going to happen. It's all playing the odds. So sure, it can increase your odds of being more marketable later if you work on lots of avenues of comedic expression now, yes. But if you don't really enjoy doing those things now, is that sacrifice worthwhile? You don't know how things will work out, so it's impossible to say with any certainty. That's why I support the idea of doing as much of what you enjoy in the now, because the now is really the only thing that exists with any certainty.

PS One last-minute addition, just under deadline... stop the presses! Or stop the pressing of whatever key posts the blog, less dramatic.

Sorry to make this long-windedness even windier, but this occurred to me--I think it's notable that as time marches forward, the things that a comedian can/should do change with the times, with technology. For example, 20 years ago, for a lot of great comedians, all you needed was your act, and when you got to Montreal, you got a development deal. Recently, I was told by a literary agent that a spec scripts of a show on the air is not necessarily as desirable a writing sample as an original script, which as I understand it is a change (again, keep in mind this is hearsay and the thoughts of only one or two people, maybe not universal). Today, there are podcasts where ten years ago there were none. And they are GIGANTIC for comedians who do them well. And they do a great job to harness a following that might have already existed in the clubs, but amplified by the power of the internet.

Marc Maron's WTF is probably the prime example, it's been the number one comedy podcast I believe since it debuted last year, and its fans are rabid; they come out to shows all around the world; they do the amazing feat of making Maron think positively of himself and his career. For a couple decades, he's been proud of the work he's doing and sad about not filling clubs like some people could. What was he doing wrong? He did radio shows, TV pilots, movie parts, he wrote, acted, sang, danced, always being true to himself, rarely if ever compromising, he was on Conan forty-something times, and by his own admission, he wasn't a name. No one who didn't know who he was knew who he was. Until WTF. No one could have said to him ten years ago, "What you need to do is wait for technology to provide you with the perfect platform to reach all the misfits who will love you around the globe, once iTunes is a thing." But now that this possibility exists, he's soaring, and well-deservedly.

Bill Burr's podcast has similar effects, I believe, and Never Not Funny has a massive following (I just listened to the very first episodes for the first time, and it seems like Mr. Pardo is begrudgingly getting into podcasting because, paraphrasing, "it seems like it's the thing to do now as a comedian," not to get left behind.)

We all know people who have podcasts, and maybe they are the next useful tool for a comedian who just wants to do comedy, because it's yours, it's easy to produce, you can be yourself, you can do whatever you want, audio video interviews sketches whatever. All that is to say, who knows what the future holds in creating opportunities for comedians to do comedy. But every opportunity that exists in technology now exists for everybody, not just comedians. Youtube phenomenon flukes are getting the equivalent of development deals today, and there's really no predicting it all, which is why it brings me back to this: do what you enjoy doing, and do things that will lead towards what you want to do in the future (and hopefully in so doing, enjoy those things as well). Figure out who you are and what you want, do the work, and hopefully the rest will follow. Figure, work, hope. I could have just said that (but it might have required more context to understand, and I understand, maybe a happy medium could have been reached, so feel free to cut and paste in your mind or when sharing with others).


Abbi Crutchfield said...

I think the main problem for stand-ups is they get spoiled with being their own boss (writing for themselves, directing themselves, managing themselves) and they want to know how to be successful without compromising their integrity. If you would just sell out, and there are a number of ways to do that, the world would be your oyster.

myq said...


Sincerely, I think today's comedy culture makes it considerably more acceptable and possible to SELL without "selling out" if that concept still exists (which it does, but not as much I think). Comedians make funny commercials and are lauded for it rather than disdained like was previously done more. Etc. (Can I give one example only, and then say etc.? I did. Etc.)

Anyway, thanks for reading, everyone! Please donate to me via Paypal or Google Checkout, if you enjoyed what you read, because I'm an artist who wants to get paid for everything I do.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

Allow me to put my Cynical Hat on (it's a knit cap with fake dreads). If the underlying question is "How do I make a living at this?" then there is very little to worry about--keep getting funny. Technically you don't even have to do that to make a living at it.

But if the question is "How do I get to be a millionaire that is beloved at home and overseas, makes hit films and stays relevant into his/her 70s?" then you have a lot more forces working against you. Like ODDS for example.

Making a commercial isn't selling out if you're not compromising your values. But oh, if you would throw those stupid values out! Just think, you could beat up a waiter at TGIFridays, you could get caught stealing in a shopping mall, get wasted in court, get tased Bro!

I mean, Myq's saying, "Do what you love," but if you do what you love, and you get to the end of your life NOT having become a celebrity, was it worth it? Were all those years of hard work and making people laugh worth it? I shudder at the cold, suffocating thought. If what you love is being a celebrity, take heart--there are myriad shortcuts.

ECN said...

It's as much a matter of fashion as technology, though. People making a big deal about podcasts now is a lot like people making a big deal about Internet videos a few years back. There were a few years where all kinds of people were getting development deals by doing Internet videos. Some of them had talent and have gone on to careers, others did not and (mostly) have not. Still more probably slipped through the cracks, and may return some day.

And while people are still making videos for the Internet, and it's not as though nobody's paying attention, the days of uncritical industry obsession with Internet videos as an idea are pretty much over, and have been for at least a year or two now.

(In part because the form really doesn't lend itself to generating loyal viewers, in part because a lot of the top talent ended up doing sitcoms or movies, in part because the industry realized how many people getting a lot of Internet hits were essentially flukey, and in part because there's no clear path from Internet videos to profit.)

Now, as far as podcasts go, the situation is similar, yet different.

First of all, nobody's making a name from podcasts. What do all the podcasts you mentioned, and pretty much all of the other successful podcasts I can think of offhand, have in common? They're all hosted by people who already had some name recognition. Maron, Burr, Pardo... you could extend that to Doug Benson, Chris Hardwick, Todd Glass, even Ricky Gervais.

What do they all have in common? They were all pretty big names already -- the podcasts maybe expanded their reputation, but they had an established base of fans to work from. I don't know of any podcasts that were started by neophyte comedians and have developed any kind of following.

Which, honestly, makes sense. Because doing a podcast is a pretty tough thing. You can't just be interesting -- you have to have the experience and the style to be consistently interesting while speaking off the cuff.

Which leads to the following questions, in terms of the commercial viability of podcasts:

ECN said...

a) Will there ever be a point when a comedian can gain a following based solely on his/her podcast?

b) Is there a way to make a living off a podcast -- via some combination of subscriptions, advertising sales, etc.? If so, how many listeners do you need, and how many podcasts can reliably support that number of listeners?

c) Follow-up question to the previous: is the potential profit from a podcast large enough that the industry is going to get involved? I mean, it's one thing to say "I can make $1000 a week off this podcast, and hey, it probably boosts my stand-up career too. It's another thing entirely if companies can say "hey, if we market this podcast correctly, we can make millions off it." Because let's face it, the industry is not interested in getting a cut of the former guy's $50,000 a year.

d) Is there going to be a backlash? Remember 2007... a host of studio-funded start-ups shoehorning people into Internet videos, thousands of wannabe sketch comics flooding Youtube, and everyone in the world basically getting sick of the whole form at the same time.

I feel like half the open micers I know are starting podcasts... maybe some of them are good, I don't know. But if that does become a thing, a lot of them are going to be bad. And how does that affect the established/qualified podcasts?

I mean, maybe it won't. First of all, podcasts tend to be delivered in an orderly fashion, unlike YouTube or Funny Or Die, where the basic procedure is "here, shovel your videos onto this huge heap of videos". Nobody downloads a podcast by accident.

Also, remember that a lot of the top podcasts are hosted by people with credits. Even if you don't know him, a guy like Marc Maron or Jimmy Pardo can wear his bona fides on his sleeve. The podcast fits into an established body of work. There's nobody emailing their friends saying, "hey, some random dudes did this thing!" They're saying, "hey, this dude was on Conan 40 times, and now he's got a podcast," etc.

So maybe the model for podcasts is closer to the model for bands than it is Internet videos. You have the people at the top, and then also a mass of people at the bottom. You can trawl around that mass if you know enough to predict what might be good, or if you like to trawl. Or you can listen to the stuff that you know is good, and it has the name value attached to it, so it's easier to find.

But if not, if there's a backlash, that's going to hamstring everyone. If people get so sick of podcasts that they're going to tune out as soon as someone starts talking about them, that might put a dent in Maron et al.'s plans. But then again, the podcasts might well help them retain the following they have. And eventually, the open micers dabbling in podcasts will settle down a bit, at least for the most part.

I mean, ultimately, it's all tough to predict.

ECN said...

(Disclaimer: I don't even listen to podcasts, really. I can't stand the things -- they put me on edge. They're like overhearing a conversation... people are saying things, and you can't say anything back. Aaaaargh. Yes, I realize this is my problem, not the podcasts'.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Guys and Dolls,

Eric I chiming in again.

@Abby, in my experience, as a lover of stand-up since MANY moons before my first time onstage, the cream ALMOST ALWAYS rises.

If one's primary goal is to become rich &/or famous (and I'm NOT insinuating that you insinuated that that's YOUR primary goal at all), then, sure, by all means, sell out, go for the lowest common denominator, and make your money/fame.

It might not be PC, but it's true, and I'll say it:

The meat of the bell curve - Johnny Sixpack from Anytown, USA, without a particularly good education, and without being particularly smart or well-read, is simply not going to understand (let alone "fully appreciate") Jeselnik's or Dixon's or Alexandro's or Kaplan's smartest jokes.

So writing and telling easier-to-understand jokes, while it won't land you in the Comedy Hall Of Greatness (a pet project of mine, to be started once I eventually write The Perfect Joke), it will possibly allow you to sell your product to more different customers.

And with that said, all of the four guys I mentioned two paragraphs ago (among others) are this generation's rising superstars, and similar things could be said about Hedberg, Attell, Giraldo, Silverman and CK several years back.

Sure, I've seen great comics making some of their smart jokes more accommodating for Joe Sixpack to appreciate, in order to broaden their audiences, but my experience tells me that if the talent is there (and as Myq seemed to hint earlier, you've either got it or you don't when it comes to TALENT), and those with upper-echelon talent who ALSO work hard AND who ALSO also place themselves into as many opportunities as possible to display their art (i.e., "making your own luck"), tend to end up in a position where they almost have to TRY to not succeed, provided that one's definition of "success" is something akin to "being able to do what you love for a living."

Just my opinions, experiences and observations.

Good shit, guys.

Hank Thompson said...

ECN made some great points about podcasting.

The band model seems to make a lot of sense. Crawl around the bottom of the crab heap until you get big enough that some human catches you and eats you. Wait, that analogy got weird.

I am a fan of podcasts. I listen to 6 – 8 hours a day and have for the last 4 years. Since I started doing comedy in early 09 my interest went from political to comedian podcasts. I come across new shows all the time and I always try to give them a chance, even though my rotation is pretty established. Mostly I listen to the bigger names not because they are bigger names but because I enjoy what they say and I can reliably predict quality content in the future, which is the key to habit formation. Newer types tend to be a lot more hit and miss, or tend to fall into joke ejaculation, where the impulse to crack wise gets in the way of completing a story or digging into an actual topic. The better podcasts have substance.

I definitely think podcasting is the future. People sitting in their cars or sitting in front of their computers at work waiting to die will always need something to listen to. Radio used to be the only medium to fill that void. Now there is another medium which has a MUCH lower barrier to entry, so any schmuck with a microphone and an internet connection can start a podcast.

Look at how horrible radio is these days. It’s all the same lawsuit-safe corporate fluff. And it’s a good thing too, because that will accelerate the pace at which people turn to podcasts for their listening needs. And cars are coming equipped with ipod docks. And old people are reliably dying, changing the demographic.

Radio has a high barrier to entry and it was/is still terrible. Mostly. Now with the relative ease of podcasting, the floodgates are open. But like stand-up, the wheat rises from the curds. Is that how that one goes?

Podcasting is essentially a custom radio station that the listener has complete control over. Hard to deny that kind of power. It will be around a long time.

a.) Will a comedian gain a following solely on his/her podcast? Unlikely. He/she has to have the stand-up chops to command a stage and all that. But that doesn’t mean the podcast will hurt his/her chances. I’ve heard comedians say they love when podcast listeners come to shows. They make great audience members.

b.) Probably eventually.

c.) A successful podcast at a minimum will be another credit on the list. But profit doesn’t have to be the motive. Simply maintaining a connection with a dedicated audience should be enough. Also, some do it because they enjoy it.

d.) I don’t really perceive the same kind of backlash as with internet videos. Getting attention from a podcast won’t happen the way it would with a viral video. A podcast is a slow burn, whereas a video is a flash-in-pan. Like the way things make the nightly news. If there’s video of a bunch of cheerleaders beating each other up in weird hazing rituals, it’s a big story. If there’s just audio, it gets a mention. If it’s just words, it’s nothing. (that happened here in Chicago a few years ago.) This effect works against the fluke factor.

You’re definitely right to see a sea of mediocrity with all the open-micers starting podcasts. I see the same thing, even as I prepare to start a podcast of my own. Why? Because I’m a dynamic personality who always has something funny or interesting to say. Or at least that’s the delusion I’m operating under in order to not let the self-doubting, self-hating, self-sabotaging part of me win.

The reason why I’m doing all the things I’m doing is because I want that infrastructure in place should and when I start getting some heat. I’d rather experience all my awkward moments on my blog and with my upcoming podcast now than when people are actually paying attention. Plus, it’s fun!

The downside is it definitely stretches the attention span a bit. Especially since I have an abundance of “real life” things – some good, some horrible – that consume much of my daily firewood.

Hank Thompson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hank Thompson said...

Last thing then I'll get off the stage...

I’m reminded of something Patton Oswalt said on the Comedy and Everything Else podcast. Here, I found it and transcribed it:

“But also, again, it gets back to this – these are the first couple years that I’m like ‘Oh, I’m an older comedian,’ because I’m looking at the resources that comedians have now and when I hear younger comedians complaining – these are the first couple years – I want to go, ‘you have nothing to complain about. You literally have nothing to complain about. You have every door open to you. It is- It is clearly in your lap right now. You can do anything you want with the cameras that are available to you, and the internet connections that are available to you for fucking free. For free!’”

The man's on oracle (of the past). One can only imagine a young Patton Oswalt starting out today.

myq said...

I would have preferred if you offered these view in a podcast.
Do you only hate the idea of LISTENING to them, or would you also hate the idea of CREATING one (because you'd have to listen to at least yours, as you were creating it, unless you did it with sound-blocking headphones, Beethoven-style).

Just wanted to check, are you joking when you say "but if you do what you love, and you get to the end of your life NOT having become a celebrity, was it worth it?"
Because if so, then hear hear.
But just in case it's a serious question, the answer is yes: doing things you love are by definition things that you love doing, and probably worth it.
PS Sorry to ask about joking. Tone is so difficult in written form. If only this were a podcast.

@Eric I:
I don't think the question at hand here is whether to pander creatively vs. stay artistically pure, it's whether to stick to one genre of entertainment or not (and I don't believe it's pandering or anything equivalent to be a funny actor in a commercial in addition to being a comedian--Matt McCarthy does a great job wherever I see him, and certainly doesn't compromise the integrity of his standup in any way).
Additionally, naming CK as someone who used not be as relatable to everyone is interesting, considering that he has certainly evolved into much more of an everyman, yet just as certainly not through pandering.
So one CAN be relatable and original, marketable and creative all at once.
I also would say that in being un-PC, I think you're being a little un-C (or un-correct, that is) in general. Jeselnik works the road, performing for all kinds of audiences in Anytown, USA, as does Dixon, and Alexandro certainly. Certainly these folks are true to their voice and their muse (or whatever pretentious/accurate phrasing you like), but I've seen them relate plenty to audiences that you might not expect it from.
(And I've seen it happen with audiences I'VE not necessarily expected it from, which has led me to never really expect anything... if a club is good, well set-up, respectful to comedians, the demographic of the clientele can be much less significant to the caliber of the show and their enjoyment thereof.)
I mean, if someone doesn't know Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, perhaps they won't enjoy a joke involving it as much as someone who does, and it's fine to have jokes that some people enjoy more than others, but overall why not aim to be the best yourself that the most others can enjoy? (And getting back to the topic, if that means being yourself in a commercial or acting, then power to you. But only if you want to.)

6-8 hours a day? During the workday? Or free time? While also watching movies and reading? When do you take care of your other media/pop culture needs?
(Power to you--I keep up with WTF, Savage Love, and one or two more, but have dozens of episodes of other podcasts languishing in listening limbo. Can you listen and summarize for me? Podcast without pity?)

Abbi Crutchfield said...

@ Eric I: I was being cynical about today's aspiring comic striving for celebrity as the end-goal. I define success in comedy for myself as making a living at it and supporting my family with it. But everyone's allowed to define success how they want.

@ ECN and Hank: my problem with radio isn't the content, it's all the annoying commercials that fund it. But wouldn't the mass marketing of "successful" podcasts (that would generate million$) lead to product placement and endless interruptions from the sponsor? I don't think unsponsored / non-profit podcasts with substance will ever spread like wildfire across the nation, but their followers will fan the flame so that, like slow-burning embers, they'll keep for a long time.

To anyone launching a podcast now, as a listener I have no patience for gum-chewing, lips smacking, dead air, and "ums" trailing off into nowhere. I guess I wish that podcasts were either scripted or outlined (does that contradict with the definition of a traditional podcast?) Also, in order to keep me coming back to a podcast, I am only partially drawn by big name guests. If the last three podcasts I heard were hilarious, I will get hooked on wanting to laugh and come back for that.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

@ Myq: I hope we all recognize that doing what we love is a luxury afforded to Americans. But yes, I was kidding. How can you be disappointed with yourself for figuring out how to spend your life doing what you enjoy? Are you really going to kick yourself at the end of your life for not having become famous? Celebrity is highly overrated. I'd love the spoils from it, but I think I'd love dying as a sane person better.

myq said...

If podcasts could deliver enough listeners, it seems like they could have a not-totally-intrusive ad delivery system... I think Hulu is very reasonable, often providing 40-45 minutes of show for maybe 2 minutes of commercial? (Compared to the 15-18 minutes of commercials that same show would have on air.)

So, Hulu should start doing podcasts, is what I'm saying.

And Abbi, all Eric I is saying is that you should be feeding your children with art.
(Maybe a nice still life of a fruit bowl? Painted with actual dyes made from food.)

myq said...

Hooray for kidding! I love it. For a living. Eating kidding is delicious.
(Like a pie in the face, or even tomatoes if things aren't going well. Comedy can always feed you.)

And I wouldn't say fame is over-rated, just re-emphasize that way more people have it as a goal than is physically possible to achieve (especially today--I read a statistic that a larger quantity of kids today care more about being famous than past generations did at that age).

Good thing wanting it doesn't necessarily make it so.

PS Slightly related but completely significant aside--has everyone read Doug Stanhope's latest blog on comedy classes?


Read it!
(Matt, link to it somewhere like you do maybe? Or talk about it on a podcast? And pay me for it?)

Kiki Kapral said...

I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on these two posts, I wish there was a way to link them all together into one comment section. I guess I have to post this in two parts because it’s too long…

I was thinking a lot more about this over the weekend. Stand-up is really a combination of two different components: writing and performing, both of which are individually useful and marketable talents. So if you have this skill set, why wouldn’t you want to use that to your advantage. Writing, acting, vo work and what have you are all great ways to both pay the bills and hone your skills. In addition, depending on what you’re doing, it may also help you gain a better following. Wouldn’t you want to try to branch out and try new things instead of just keeping that shitty day job as a temp or a waiter?

I can say that Margie is definitely right when she says that casting directors love stand-up, sketch and improve people. Actually, one of the main reasons I was hired at my current position was because I was tapped into that scene, and my boss felt that she was missing out on an entire talent pool. I can say, at least at my office, we are always rooting for the person auditioning to do their best, and we’ll work with actors in the room until they get it right. I know that’s not the case at most offices but, I feel really lucky to work with a team that really cares about the creative community and developing talent. There have been several instances over the past year or so when we’ve brought in a comic and it has been literally their first audition ever. It’s really interesting to see how different comics have reacted to such a situation. Some are extremely nervous and have a lot of trouble, and others just instinctively nail it on the first time. No matter what happens, they way I like to think about it, and the way I would encourage others to think about it, is as a learning experience. Just as each time you do a set, even if you bomb, there are still positive things that you can take away from the experience. Even just knowing where the building is, what happens in an audition room, how each office operates differently. Also learning the difference between how to read for a multi-cam sit-com as apposed to a single-cam sitcom, or knowing how a JJ Abrams or David E. Kelly script would read as apposed to a Jerry Bruckheimer script. These are all things that you can take away from an audition and use as tools for the next time.

I would also suggest to any comics that are interested in anything involving acting to sign up to be a reader at casting offices. For those who aren’t familiar, a reader is the person who sits in the audition room and reads the lines with the person auditioning. It doesn’t pay anything, but it’s a great way to see the behind the scenes process, see the difference between good and bad auditions, get to know the casting directors, and practice your performance skills. On the side, it’s also a great way to get auditions, we end up giving a lot of auditions to our readers. We are always looking for readers in our office, so if anyone would be interested in something like that, just let me know.

Kiki Kapral said...

When it comes to a manager, I think that no matter what, the most important thing is good communication. If you aren’t interested in acting or writing and just want to focus on stand-up right now, make sure that they know that and respect your goals. And if you are interested in other things, besides just doing stand-up, make sure that you have a conversation with them about it too. Managers have great resources and you should take full advantage of them. One thing that comics should do more is go out on general meetings. This is when you just go for a chat with a casting director, someone in development, a producer, or whatever. It’s just for them to get to know who you are and find out more about you and how you possibly might fit into any of their projects. If you have a manager, they should be pushing to get you meetings with these types of people. You should never feel forced into something that you don’t want to do, but at the same time, a good manager should be there to push you. If you have a good relationship with a manager, you will be working with them to help reach your goal, whatever that might be, and it will be a team effort. I think a lot of performers forget that THEY WORK FOR YOU, and not the other way around.

I hope at least some of this has been useful, I figure that most of the people reading and commenting on this blog are comics, so it might be good to have another perspective.

Matteson said...

Thought I'd put in my two cents as someone that's sort of on the opposite side of this conversation - I've always been primarily focused on trying to be a screenwriter, but got into stand up as "something else i should be doing."

I got into stand up for a variety of reasons (always wanted to try it, like making people laugh, thought it'd be fun, etc) but one of the main reasons was that it seemed like another way to get my "content" into the world, which I'm more and more convinced is an important part of "making it". No matter how good you are, if the right people don't find you, it won't matter, and the more things you're doing, the better chance there is that the right person will see you. Of course, you can spread yourself too thin and just be putting out a lot of mediocre content, which probably isn't good, but in general, I believe the more ways people have to see you, the better, be that by video, blog, podcast, spec script, acting, etc.

While there are different skill sets for every job in the comedy world, whether you're writing screenplays, sitcoms, late night jokes, stand up, doing improv, or acting, the thing that is a requirement for all of them is that you're funny. It's much easier to teach a funny person how to write a properly structured script than it is to teach someone that knows structure how to be funny. So everything you do is another opportunity to prove that you're just generally funny, and funny can always be of use. More than once someone has seen me perform, found my website, learned I write scripts, and contacted me about it. So it's worked for me to be exploring multiple avenues, even if my primary career objective has always been screenwriting.

So should people that want to primarily be stand ups pursue other things? I think so. It's always good to explore other ways to show the world that you're talented, not to mention to create other avenues of generating income by being funny. Even if Stand Up will always be your #1 passion, I'm guessing writing for a sitcom would be way better than whatever day job you're doing now.

PS - I guarantee on some screenwriting blog somewhere, there are screenwriters debating the merits of getting into stand up. No matter what our craft, we always think ours is the hardest and debate whether we should "just get into" another one, as if it will be so easy.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

Thanks Kiki! That was very helpful.

Hank Thompson said...

@Abbi That's a good point. Over commercialization is likely to happen but the forces to counteract it are stronger than with radio or TV. User feedback is more immediate and more importantly, unlike other mediums, the number of listeners can be measured almost exactly. Ads and sponsorship will be more directly targeted. And I agree, there should be some measure of professionalism. Eating and talking over each other are my big pet peeves. Outlines are smart. Scripts are horrendous.

@Myq I meant to say 68 hours. All on my lunch break. I have 68 iPods. Back to the truth: I own a business charging money from rich people to clean things. Picture a pool boy. Now picture a hilarious one. Take away the abs and the symmetry and that’s me. Except I don’t clean pools. So I spend my days mostly alone, living by my own rules, which happen to be exactly the same rules as society. My regular shows are Adam Carolla, WTF, Greg Fitzsimmons, Jimmy Dore, The Young Turks, Nerdist, The Check Spot, The Long Shot Podcast and a bunch of others. Sometimes smaller ones score good interviews. The last show I want to listen to is My Own Thoughts.

Thank you. *cough*

myq said...

That makes sense then.

68 ipods.

But wait, you don't have 68 earholes, do you? Can you listen with your nostrils, eyeballs, mouth hole, and/or others? Or do some orifices get multiples? (And are you sure you're enjoying podcasts in the right way? Or have I been doing it wrong?)

Anyway, what was this blog about?

Kiki Kapral said...

Actually, I had an idea regarding auditions... Would any comics be interested in taking part in an audition workshop? We could most likely do it on some Saturday at my office. Please let me know, it would be fun and a great way to learn audition techniques.

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