Conan O’Brien Just Could be a Stand-up’s Best Friend

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Doing your stand up on Late Night T.V. can be your big break as a comedian. Well, unless you’re Madonna doing stand-up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

I won’t get into that face-plant into a steamy pile of dog food by-product. I think that gimmick–at least for me–dropped my opinion of Fallon’s show; certainly with regard to it’s appeal for comedians.

When Johnny Carson was still on the air. The Tonight Show was the pinnacle. If a comedian could get on the Tonight Show and get that nod from Johnny to sit on the couch, then you could almost write your own ticket.

Currently, for comedians and their futures, it seems that Late Night has lost that sizzle…

Or has it?

Here’s a great article over at Paste Magazine that gives you a glimpse, from the inside, of how Conan OBrien’s show has now become a “stand-up’s best friend.”

This little post is not to imply that none of the other shows give a comedian that extra boost on their resume, because they do, but Conan seems to be the only one of the Late Night hosts who has followed Carson in his avid support of stand-ups.

Letterman doesn’t have that many on, Fallon would rather have famous people on the show than give a new comedian a shot, James Cordon hasn’t been on the air enough to gauge his propensity and Kimmel–well, Kimmel does support stand-ups, in my view, and seems to give them the freedom to bring  a little more bite to Late Night, a little more edge than some of the others, but still doesn’t have as many stand-ups on his show as Conan.

But Conan, hands down, takes it win it comes to the real showcasing of new stand-ups. He’s even booked two stand-ups on one episode, more than once. Not as a double-booking, but as part of the production.

Who does that?

I think every comedian should groom their four-and-a-half minutes to get it prepared for Late Night. That should be a target goal.

Getting a set on T.V. is a game-changer.

When you get into the article you’ll discover how many comedians got other breaks in the business once they got their set on Conan.

But before you run over there to Paste to check out the article consider these suggestions:

  1. Make note of the Talent Coordinator at Conan, (Put him into your contact database)
  2. Read attentively and look at the suggestions of what they look for at Conan
  3. Run over to TeamCoco’s page on YouTube and study the comedians and their Late Night sets.
  4. Notice their structure and their pacing. (Late Night pacing is a lot slower than you might imagine; bigger pauses)
  5. Start putting together your own idea of what your 4.5 minutes will look like.
  6. Be sure to keep in mind that on Late Night, that first joke is crucial. Gotta be tight.
  7. Finally, realize that the sets use tight structure.

So set your goals and your target for Conan (or any Late Night show), and get to  work.

In the meantime, give a shout-out to comedian, Grant Pardee, (the article’s author), and follow him on Twitter @grantpardee.

New Comedy Club Opens in Lansing Michigan

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Hey Road Dogs!

A new comedy club has opened in Lansing Michigan. Woo-Hoo!

According to WLNSNews.com in Lansing, Trippers Comedy Club has opened it’s doors.

For those of you out there and working the road, it could be a few days that you can fill in a long road schedule.

Manager Jason Burkhart says that the club is going to be having shows on Thursdays at 9pm and Friday and Saturdays at 8pm and 10pm.

Great News for Lansing

That’s great news for that area of the country. As they were lacking in a club since Connxtions closed their doors last year.

Also good news, the club is going to be booked by the folks at the Funny Business Agency. So for those of you who already know John and Eric Yoder and the rest of the family, you already sort of have an “in.”

Those of you who don’t, I suggest getting an intro so you can have another club to add to your Contact Sheet of Clubs and Bookers.

And what I mean by that is this: Drop what you’re doing right now. Click those links and get those guys into your file system of bookers and clubs, then schedule a time to call or find a way to drop into the club, say to say hello.

And if you don’t have a file system for your bookers and club owners, start creating one.

Do you have a method for keeping track of your bookers? If so, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear how you keep your contacts organized!

Go get ‘em!

CBS Blew It! – Craig Ferguson Announces He’s Leaving ‘Late Late Show’

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The field is totally opening up!

Craig Ferguson announced Monday night that he’ll be leaving the Late, Late Show at the end of this year.  There is a lot of speculation that Ferguson was mistreated and completely overlooked, when CBS passed over him to replace David Letterman who will be retiring at the end of this year.

This after a 10-year run!

He was like a second string quarterback waiting his turn to take over the team.

Imagine if the Green Bay Packers overlooked Aaron Rogers after Brett Favre left the team?

Tragic!

CBS Blew It!

I think CBS completely blew it with this decision. They instead went with Stephen Colbert.

Colbert is very talented, but unproven and untested as a host in a non-satirical, non-character-based environment.

Ferguson is fresh, unique and extremely talented.

The execs who made this decision have ABSOLUTELY NO CONCEPT of the level of talent it takes to go off-script like Ferguson does and riff on a subject and get consistently great laughs. The guy is a genius.

*But Jerry, tell us how you really feel!*

He has an ability to detach from the show and actually make you feel like he’s in your living room; all the while still engaging the studio audience.

Who else does that?!

Answer: Nobody!

I don’t understand their reasoning for this decision. The only thing I can hypothesize on is that they are looking to target the 18-34 male demographic; the demo that is so coveted by advertisers and and already targeted by Comedy Central, Colbert’s current home.

But if that’s the case they blew it, as Ferguson and Colbert are virtually the same age!

Writing Positions Are Opening Up

But what does this mean for my readers, (all 3 of you)?

I know that some of you are really into looking to nail a job on a Late Night Show as a writer. This is a truly historic time with the shake-ups that are happening all around late night. Never in my life time have there been so many changes in the late night line up. in the same year.

With Colbert replacing Letterman and Ferguson leaving at the end of this year, new opportunities will be springing up all over the network.

Time to sharpen your pencils, freshen your pens and get your carpel tunnel wrist braces on and start re-typing and re-writing your Late Night TV submission packets.

Those of you who have taken my workshop on writing for late night know that you should be re-tooling your submission packet every 6 months and sending it in to the shows producers on a regular basis.

You should also be tweeting your daily jokes. Why?  The Late Night with Seth Meyers people plucked an I.T. worker from Peoria, and put him on the staff for the show after reading his humorous tweets.

Now the Dude is earning a $4000 minimum weekly paycheck as a staff writer on the show. Hell Yes!

So even though I’m in disagreement about the network’s decision to overlook Ferguson, I am laser-beam focused on the new opportunities available for writers.

Get writing!

Clinic Student Sascha Knopf Moves to Next Round in CA’s Funniest Female Competition

sascha-funniest-female-compQuick shout out to Stand Up Comedy Clinic student and funny girl, Sascha Knopf, who moved to the Semi-Final round in California’s Funniest Female comedy competition at the Ice House in Pasadena Wednesday night.

Sascha was in a mix of some darn good comedians too. Many of whom traveled from as far as Washington D.C. to participate in the competition.

One of the things that I really dig about teaching is watching students overcome obstacles, develop their comedic skill, hit milestones and achieve dreams… and this is no exception because the fascinating part of this share is that Sascha has only been involved in stand-up for eight months!

One of the judges said it was a blend of her structure and performance that made the judge feel like she “belonged there.”

About Sascha Knopf

Sascha is a skilled actress who has appeared in films like “Shallow Hal,” “Expiration Date”sascha-knopf-what's-the-worst-that-can-happen2 and “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?,” where she held her own comedically, playing opposite Danny Devito and Martin Lawrence. (Check out her reel on Sascha’s website.)

Sascha decided to try stand-up to compliment acting resume and give herself yet another creative outlet.

I say, “yet another,” because Knopf is one those people who exudes creativity. She’s always working on something to keep the creativity Gods happy. If she’s not acting or doing stand-up, she’s shooting pictures, because she’s also a skilled photographer. She spent some time with some of the top fashion designers shooting fashion week in New York and still shoots actors, comedians and events in L.A.

She has a keen sense of color and an intuitiveness that helps bring out the unique persona of the people she shoots. Check out some of her work, here.

I’m proud to brag that Comedy Clinic Alumn, Stephanie Blum, also moved to the next round in the competition. Stephanie is a veteran of stand-up comedy and can crank out some great material so I’m looking forward to the competition as it moves forward with two Comedy Clinic students going to the semi-finals.

Shameless Plug: Comedy Clinic Student Won in 2013

pauline-jerry-wsocOur students are no strangers to the CA Funniest Female comedy competition, as alumnus Pauline Yasuda was the winner of the competition in 2013! Pauline brought her comedy A-game to the competition last year which was held at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, CA. Pauline took first place out of a ton of comics who came from as far as Australia.

Pauline may be taking a break from comedy for a bit as she just had her first baby, but as a father of five myself (that’s right, Five!  Don’t judge!), I know Pauline will have a ton of new jokes in the coming months!

Good luck to all the comedians in this year’s California’s Funniest Female comedy competition!

About the Competition

California’s Funniest Female comedy competition is in it’s 11th year. It is produced by Bill Word and attracts comedians from all over the world and has done a lot to promote female comedians throughout its tenure. Check out their website and keep tabs so you can get into the competition next year!

Get Into The Ventura Comedy Festival

ventura comedy festival It’s that time again! The 4th Annual Ventura Comedy Festival is getting revved up for their 2014 season. Check out the website for submission opportunities.

Last year the show had over 200 comedians participating. This year the festival is even going to be bigger.

Comedian Randy Lubas is the founder of this festival and has personally reviewed all the videos that were submitted.

The submission fee is only $25, so even the most broke comic can raise that cash.

Again, they are in the earliest stages of announcement and will  be open for submissions soon. Please keep checking their website for the updates.

You know the benefits of participating in competitions, so get into this one if you can!