How To Comedian | How To Get Gigs

dealThat’s no typo up there in the title. I’m going to rebrand the word; change it from not only a noun, but also to a verb. The act of being a comedian. The connotation is so narrow isn’t it. “…An entertainer who seeks to make people laugh with sketches and funny monologues…” But being a comedian is so much more.

“How To Comedian” is my series on equaling out the word show-business and giving comedians tools so get work, the business end of the equation. Since I was 23, I haven’t had a full-time job. Everything I’ve done has to do with being a comedian and focusing on comedy. There have been times when I slowed down on the road to spend more time with family, but ultimately all my income has come from knowing how to comedian. That includes telling the jokes and making a living.

When I hang around the comedy store or talk to other comedians, their primary concern is getting work. “There’s not enough work out there…” is the common line.

I’m going to tell you something right now: there’s more work available as a comedian than you can even imagine.

Here’s the catch: to get started, you need 3 things:

  • You just have to know where to find it.
  • You have to have the balls to go and get it.
  • And you have to be able to work CLEAN!

Wow! Is that all? It may seem like a small requirement and it is, but in reality only a small percentage of comedians out there have these qualities. Some have balls but can’t work clean. Some work clean, but don’t know where to find the work or they don’t have balls.

Sad, but true. Stick with me, my cheeky laugh-makers, I will guide you through.

Every year from November to January, I am booked solid with “corporates” and other events that pay between $600 and $5000 per appearance. (To be completely transparent, the $5000 gigs are not as common, but they do bite sometimes when I pitch them this price). Those gigs pretty much set me up for the following year. Not bad, huh? I’ve been doing that since my early twenties in gigs no one has ever heard of. But it didn’t come easy.

First, I had to learn to work clean. When I started, I didn’t think I could even step on stage until I had an hour worth of material. No one told me what I needed. I didn’t have anyone to guide me. So I wrote and wrote until I had an hour. My only audience at that time, to try my material out on, was my parents and the comedy traffic school I was teaching. The material had to be clean.

So I had an hour or so of clean material. It’s not as hard as you think to write clean. REALLY. Browse through some of my posts, read my blog on using analogy to write jokes and look at my video on writing 15 jokes in 30 minutes, you’ll begin to see how easy it becomes writing material.

Once you have your hour of clean material, (really, all you need is around 40 minutes), and you’ve honed it and rehearsed it so that it generates laughs every 20-30 seconds, (In club auditions they look for a laugh-point every 18-20 seconds, but for corporate you have more flexibility), you can begin to move to the next step: Knowing where to find the gigs.

My suggestion is to start locally. Call your local Toastmasters, Rotary Clubs and other similar organizations (they all have websites). Tell them you would like to do 15-30 minutes of comedy for one of their luncheons. Offer to do it for FREE. That’s right. FREE.

Trust me on this. When you give away your best stuff, they will buy anything from you.

When you do an event like this for free, ask them not to tell people that you’re doing it for free. Give them a professional solid, funny show and you will be amazed at how many business cards are thrust at you after your appearance. All these folks own businesses and are looking for something new. They see how effective a comedian can be at a corporate event and now that they got a taste, they’ll want to see if they can afford you.

I do this every year at different Rotary Clubs in the area and it works like magic. I always book at least one gig, usually more. Think about it, for an hour or two of my time, I book a gig that usually pays a minimum of $1000.

So let’s start there. I don’t want to make this blog too long. Comedians have a short attention span! See, this is where having balls comes in. You can’t just wait for the work to come to you, you’ve got to go out and get the work! That’s your job. That’s the first step in really learning how to comedian!

The irony of this scenario is even though this technique works like magic. Over 97 percent of comedians won’t do this and I’ll see the same faces at the Comedy Store saying, “There’s not enough work out there…”

Power to the punch line!

How To Write Comedy | Conan Writer Rips On His Boss…

Conan Writer Deon Cole talks about Conan’s tattoos…or the lack thereof, and how he wrote a joke that didn’t make the cut…

Deon talks about how he became a writer on "The Conan O’Brien Show." It’s an interesting story and revealed a side of Deon that I’ve seen before, liked and I’m glad to see he still embodies it. I have enormous respect for Deon. He can get on CNN and talk about a joke that didn’t make the cut. Talk about keepin’ it real, huh? We spend so much time trying to show how good we are, because we have fragile egos and Deon just lays it out for all of us. What does that teach me as a writer and comedian? It teaches me that candor is cool.

When you’re honest with the audience they love you for it. Relate it back to the Ricky Gervais video in my previous post: Rick said that "comedy is about empathy…I want to see someone who stumbles and falls and brushes himself off…" Important lessons. How do you apply this lesson? Time and time again I am asked what if I bomb? What if the audience doesn’t like you. If you’re just trying to get from point A to point B and encountering obstacles along the way, we will like you. We will root for you. In other words, let us see you stumble. Let us see you get back up, because we will root for you the whole way!

How to Write Comedy | Using Analogy to Write Jokes

How to write comedy using analogy and incongruitySo you sit down to write comedy and what happens? Nothing! Now what?

I teach a lot of techniques so that people can learn how to write comedy. Most of what I focus on is writing comedy for a stand up act.

However, the same techniques are used in blog writing, script writing or any other writing, because the fundamentals of comedy and the goals, (getting people to laugh), remain the same.

The difference is the style. Stand up is more conversational. It’s about persona and empathy. In other words, as a stand up comedian, the audience has to like you. They want to root for you, while you share your struggles and life situations and observations. Also, as a stand up we have to connect with you and one of the best ways to do that is to share with your audience, you emotional point of view. If we don’t know how you feel, then it’s harder to connect.

Therefore, one of the best things you can do as a stand up is to focus on stuff you give a damn about. George Carlin once told me, “Take the shit that drives you absolutely crazy and make it funny…” That’s great advice, because if you, as the stand up comedian don’t give a damn about the material, the audience won’t either.

Here’s the key: Start with something you care about, that gets your blood up. Not something that is funny. The funny comes after you’re talking about what you care about–get it? DON’T SIT DOWN TO WRITE SOMETHING FUNNY!

But enough on that, let’s get to how to come up with the jokes. One of the techniques I use I call “1-2-3 Jokes“. It’s based on the most common comedy formula used in comedy today; incongruity. It’s putting a square peg into a round hole.

Whenever I use 1-2-3 Jokes, I can come up with subject matter to start writing about. I was talking today to a friend about relationships and break ups. Whenever I talk about a topic that is primal, (and relationships certainly is), I come up with analogies. My friend Rob Rose, was talking about break-ups that tend to go on forever and I said,

“…breaking up with crazy chicks is a lot like buying a smartphone on credit…you’re still paying for it long after it’s functionality is obsolete. You’re still stuck with 3g technology, but you want to move up to 4g. And why not? It’s faster! It comes with a touch scream.

…and if I sat down and made lists of everything ‘smartphone’ and everything ‘relationships’ or ‘breakups,’ there’s probably another 10-20 jokes sitting there…

Analogies are almost instant jokes. Why? Because, by their nature they are incongruous. Incongruity causes surprise, and surprise is the number one element that triggers human laughter, which is our goal when we’re learning how to write comedy, So next time you’re looking for something funny, just use an analogy.

Ricky Gervais On The Priciples of Comedy

Here’s another in my series on How To Be A Famous Comedian. (Disclaimer: if you’re in it to be famous, you’re in it for all the wrong reasons…you need to be in it because it’s in YOU–wait is that a Gatorade commercial? However, one of the ways to learn how to be a famous comedian is to learn from the comedians who are already famous so here’s an interesting clip from Ricky Gervais, one of my favorites)

In my classes I teach that the comedian has to be liked. You never put yourself above the audience. As the audience, we want to root for you. When you stand up there and you think you’re “all that,” you’re not going to get any respect from the audience and you’re certainly not going to get any respect from Ricky Gervais.

Take this approach into consideration when you’re writing your comedy material. When you pump yourself up for any reason, knock yourself down a peg. When I talk about my time playing soccer I say this: “When I was 20 I played professional soccer–for a short period of time, as it was a game of skill–“ Then I go on to tell this story of how I played on an all Latino team and was the only white guy. But boosting myself up by saying I played professional soccer, may sound like bragging to the audience, so I follow it immediately by “for a short period of time, as it was a game of skill.” It knocks me back down a peg.

Stand up comedy is not about being prettier, sexier or smarter than the audience, it’s about stumbling…and getting back up. It’s one of the oldest formulas in comedy…I’m just trying to get from point A to point B and I keep running into obstacles. Here’s the irony: the more you stumble and get back up, the more the audience roots for you to win. I hope you enjoy the clip from Ricky Gervais. Take a look at my other blog posts, there’s a lot of information about comedy and if you liked this video, please leave a comment below. Stay funny!

How To Write Comedy | New Jokes about Holly Madison’s Boob Insurance

 

Holly MadisonJust for kicks I wanted to write some quick jokes about a random story that showed up in the news. This is what I came up with. Please feel free to share your own jokes on this premise. I use a technique called the listing technique and it usually helps me to write about 15-20 jokes in a short period of time. Want to learn this technique visit my blog on how to write comedy.

 

Former Playboy Bunny Holly Madison has taken out a 1 million dollar insurance policy on her breasts. (INSERT PHOTO) — for a million dollars you’d think she could’ve at least gotten full coverage.

 

or… I’m not saying I speak for all men, but thankfully her insurance company only offers partial coverage.

 

By the way those things defy gravity you’d think those implants were made of helium.

 

…an insurance policy is a lot like magic, with one wave of a premium her breasts became an ass–set.

 

I don’t know what insurer underwrote that policy, but it looks like a perfect job for the “Good Hands Company.”

 

…and…actually I think Lloyd’s of London was the underwire…I mean, underwriter. See, if she came to me I could’ve just given her a piece of the Rock.

 

The rep from Lloyd’s of London called her boobs a work of art. Really? I thought Lloyd’s only insured original pieces?

 

She should also get auto insurance considering that you could probably drive a Prius through that cleavage.

 

The only thing stretched tighter than the skin on her chest is the budget for the United Postal Service.

 

That’s not even a scoop top. It’s more like a convertible!

 

Look what my boyfriend got me for my birthday–Twins!

 

When I told people I subscribed to Playboy for the articles. Those are the two articles I was talking about.

 

You know the competition is fierce to be a pretty lady, when the only thing natural about you is your ear wax.

 

When she got her boob job–surprise!–yes, it’s a boob job, she went from A’s to a D’s. Ironically that’s the same reason she dropped out of Portland University.

 

She’s not secretive about the work she’s had done. She’s got fake boobs, fake hair, a fake nose. I mean I wouldn’t kick her out of bed…yeah, she might shatter.

With the money she costs to maintain, she should’ve changed her name to Porsche.

 

It’s reported that she’s had at least nine plastic surgeries. I mean, she’s hot, but at what point are you better off just fucking the cosmetic surgeon?