What are you NOT allowed to do with your promo video?

Hey Dave – I played a (known) comedy club and it went very well. I got constant laughs and had so much fun. But I’m a bit confused about something. The club sent me a video of my set and said, “Feel free to use it as you want, just as long as it’s not used publicly.” What does that mean? How else can I use it? Can I send it to other clubs? Am I allowed to post pictures? I wanted to use it for my website, but I am in total limbo with this. Thanks in advance for clearing up my confusion – ha! Talk to you soon – R.Y.

Don’t use this.

Hey R.Y. – I just checked on YouTube and found more than a few comedian videos taped at the same (known) club. So I’m really not sure what they mean about “not used publicly.” I’ll tell you at the end of this how to find out, but right now I’ll take a couple guesses and explain why…

The known clubs – and many that are not so well known – are very protective of their images. In business terms, it’s called their brand. When you see an advertisement or commercial promoting an upcoming show, it’s going to be for a comedian that will deliver a performance the audience will expect from that caliber of a club.

Let me clear that up a bit. I won’t single out one particular known club because there are too many. So just pick out your favorite.

These clubs are in business.

How they stay in business in this competitive field is by bringing in comedians audiences will pay to see. This builds their reputation (brand) with consumers (ticket buyers). They want you to feel confident that if you attend a show at their club you’ll see a very funny comedian.

That’s the image they want potential and returning customers to have. Buy a ticket to this (known) club on the “nights advertised” and you’ll have a great time.

But these clubs are also interested in finding new talent. Again, it’s part of the business.

Same openers again?

They can’t bring in the same comics over and over and over because a large segment of their audiences are returning customers. Yes, there are certain comics that are more popular than others, which is why they will have more return engagements. But especially in the clubs where using three comics (MC, feature and headliner) are standard, they don’t want the exact same show. A talent booker will schedule different opening acts and feature acts for that reason.

To help find these new comedians or to give local comics more experience, known clubs might have an open-mic night, showcase (where management is auditioning) or host a comedy class that includes a performance night.

Usually the comedians can get a video of his or her performance.

For some it’s a souvenir of a memorable night. For comics serious about building a career, they’ll use the video to get better. They watch to see how they look on stage, what material worked and what needs work, and to analyze timing and delivery.

But we also know video is the best way to promote your career. If you have a great video the goal is to get it in front of talent bookers. But sometimes depending on “where” you filmed that great set it can be a little confusing on how you’re allowed to use it.

Let’s say you’ve done an open-mic at a known club and have the video. Let’s also say you’ve had some experience and might be ready for paying gigs at lesser known clubs, but not where you made this great video. And even if you are, you’re not the headliner the club would promote to sell tickets.

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / $50 total / Space limited

Mondays and (for Toastmasters members) Wednesdays

* NEW GROUPS STARTING:

Monday – August 31 / Tuesday – September 1

Wednesday – September 2, 2020

For details, upcoming dates and to register visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Comedy Workshops for Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

If you put this video online and make it seem like you were a paid “regular” (MC, feature or headline) performer at this club, it’s not going to live up to their brand. That’s an important factor for the club because they’ve worked hard to build their reputation. This happens (a lot) with newer comedians. They’re proud of what they’ve done, but need to remember the clubs are also proud of their brands. I know club managers that have contacted comics and demanded they take the videos down.

It’s business.

That’s also why many clubs hide their onstage logos during open-mic and showcase nights. When their brand is presented publicly they want the public to only associate it with the best comics.

Looking for talent?

Another answer to this question would be using it for publicity. You might score a gig at another club or even a benefit show and a clip from your video at the known club is used to sell tickets. Without written permission it’s not a good idea to use video showing their brand (the logo on stage) in the background while you promote a show at a different venue. That could cause more headaches than you’d care to have, so never use one club to promote another.

Again, it’s business.

In your state of confusion, the best bet is to call or email the club and find out exactly what they mean. And since we’re talking about business that’s also a good way to stay in touch. Any time your name is mentioned to a talent booker, you’re promoting yourself (your brand). This is a legitimate reason, rather than an email or postcard just “saying hello and keep me in mind for work…

Be honest.

Tell them you’ve received the video and you’re not sure what you’re allowed to do with it. Then let them tell you. You don’t have to say you want to post it on your website, YouTube or send to other clubs. The club manager / booker should fill in the blanks. Then just follow what they say. Either way they’re doing you a favor. You’ll have a video you can watch to help you improve as a comedian or help promote yourself as a comedian – or both.

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter?

Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

How old is too old to start?

Hi Dave – I worked as a comedian for ten years, opening and featuring. Is 51 years of age too old to go back into it? – D.K.

Hey D.K. – You know what? That’s one of those questions only you – and anyone else who checks out a calendar before making a move – can answer for sure. But also “for sure” I have a few thoughts about this.

So here we go…

First of all, I consider comedy – writing and performing – to be a creative art. I’ve written that countless times in these FAQs And Answers, so no detailed explanation is needed.

It’s just the way it is.

I’m so old… (yawn)!

I also believe using your creativity and being psyched (excited) about sharing your “art” with others is like a Fountain of Youth. Don’t laugh. Again, I’m serious. I’ve had too many former friends (and I mean former because I have no interest in hanging out with people like this) hit a lazy-boy chair (yeah, I know it’s La-Z-Boy, but I don’t feel like getting sued) at the age of 30 and announce they’re over the hill. They hang onto jobs they hate because it’s too much work to find another. Their free time is spent vegging and basically, watching and critiquing other people that are doing or creating other things.

They never seem to create anything except annoyance. And at least to me, they always seem to look and act a lot older than they really are. The only thing they accomplish is getting older.

Am I being too hard on these people? Maybe, but they won’t read this anyway.

And now that I’ve made my opinion perfectly clear, let me tell you about another creative artist who doesn’t look at his age as a barrier. Oh yeah, and we’re still friends…

Rock on dude!

A musician pal I hung with during my years living in NYC was deeply into heavy metal rock’n roll. We’re talking Led Zeppelin, KISS and Guns & Roses type of screaming vocals, guitars, drums and, as expected, The Look of being a rock star. He didn’t make it as a teenager, or even into his 20′s or 30′s. But you know what?

He’s now in his 50′s and rockin’ out harder than ever.

He has a real job to support his creative endeavors, but instead of investing his salary into buying a more comfortable chair and big screen TV experience, he built a recording studio in his basement. He’s continually writing (creating) and recording (performing). It’s his creative outlet and passion, but also more than just a hobby similar to playing in a local band on the weekends.

It’s a business.

About once a year he has enough material to release a CD of hard rock originals on his own independent label (same as self-publishing your book). Through the internet and YouTube, he’s developed a fan base in Germany and some Eastern European countries that the more youthful independent (and inexperienced) bands haven’t even discovered yet. It keeps him off the couch and more importantly, from wondering:

“What if…?”

So, how would you answer that question ten years from now? You might think 51 is old – but it’s not as old as you’ll be tomorrow, next week or next year. If you have a creative passion and want to give comedy a shot, there’s no better time than now.

And yeah, I know. That sounds like such an overused, tired and old cliché. But it wouldn’t be overused, tired and old if it didn’t make sense.

I won’t even get into stories of creative artists making it in their careers until they were older (Google Grandma Moses if you really need an example). I’ve heard Rodney Dangerfield sold paint until he was 40. Not sure how true that is (anyone want to throw me some facts?) but I tend to believe it.

There are different ways you can get back into the comedy game at a more advanced age.

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

Mondays and (for Toastmasters members) Wednesdays

* NEW GROUPS STARTING:

Monday – July 27 / Wednesday – July 29, 2020

For details, upcoming dates and to register visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Comedy Workshops for Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

You need to consider your material and audience. But then again, that’s what just about every comic needs to do anyway. For instance, you have a better chance of winning the Lottery than making a comedy career on the college circuit. Through my experience as a college agent I know that’s true. And as father to a couple college graduates, I know for a fact there’s nothing easier for them to tune-out than an old person (think over 30) trying to make them laugh.

I remember interviewing Bill Engvall for my book Comedy FAQs And Answers and mentioning that I thought he’d get a lot of work in the college market. He told me I was nuts. He said his material was about being married and raising a family, which ain’t exactly what college audiences relate to.

I’m only surprised he didn’t hand me the invisible, “Here’s your sign!” He was sooo right…

But as you know, I also talk about the potential for work in more mature (think again over 30) markets, which means pretty much anything other than college and high school prom shows. Your open-mic circuit can include Rotary Clubs as well as comedy clubs. It’s a matter of writing material your potential audience will relate to and laugh at – and then finding the best venues to deliver it to them.

It’s also about telling yourself you’re not too old to do something you really want to do.

So, for another inspiring example to get you off the lazy-boy and onto the stage…

Contemplating a career change.

The age range in my comedy workshops has been pretty wide. We used to go as young as 13 (it’s now 18) and as old as… well, there’s no limit. The record so far is 72 years young. And you know what?

He ended up working a lot more than some of the much younger members.

This late-starting comedian knew what he was interested in talking about and what potential audience would be interested in hearing it. His material was about being 72 and some of the things he – and others near his age – was doing and dealing with. He was fun, funny, active and creative. And believe it or not, he started working almost immediately because he was an original rarity.

An older adult doing comedy.

He booked MC spots in good clubs but made a financial KILLING playing events for senior citizens. I kid you not! Last time we talked – and this was a few years ago – he was a working comic and bouncing around like a guy half his age.

Okay, maybe except for the ones half his age that are stuck in comfortable chairs and critiquing him for being “too old” to do that sort of thing…

So, are you too old at age 51?

It’s up to you, but I don’t know if that reason alone could truly hold a creative artist back from at least giving it a shot. As far as I’m concerned, it beats the heck out of vegging in a chair and watching someone else go for it on your large screen TV…

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter?

Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

Record for your own protection

Hi Dave – I was talking with another comic about that court case in Canada a few years ago. A customer in a comedy club sued the comic over his (adult) language. She claimed to be stressed and shocked and won the case. We record every set mainly so we can hear which jokes work and how well. Now it’s important to document what was actually said. This was a case of a comic being accused of using inappropriate language in a mandatory “clean” show. – BM

Record your sets!

Hey BM – I remember that case and wrote about it in a FAQs article when the verdict came down. A lot of people in the comedy biz were shocked over what happened. To borrow a phrase from an influential club booker, who seems to repeat it every time we talk, comedy clubs are “The Last Bastion of Free Speech.” In other words, he feels as long as the comedian is funny it’s okay to have an opinion to say what he or she wants on stage and not worry about being politically correct.

But it’s not that simple.

It didn’t take a court case for most working comics to understand there are limits on language and topics depending on the venue, audience and event. For example, what you can expect to hear during a late night show in a comedy club vs. a corporate event will be different.

As you mentioned, it’s important to record all your sets. This is a great way to help you improve as a writer and performer. If your performance is funny the audience will laugh. If it sucks, you’ll hear crickets from the segments of the room where your family and friends are not sitting.

You can develop your act off their response.

As you also mentioned, recording your set is a way to “document” what is said on stage. Based on the result of the court case, having proof of what you said can be just as important.

You’re on candid camera!

Some performers may not realize this, but did you know that some club owners or managers record the shows? It’s nothing new. Many clubs have a permanent camera installed and aimed toward the stage. Before that in “ancient times” (pre-video cameras) quite a few had an audio recorder going.

I know. I’ve been around since the “ancient times” and saw this happening.

I’ve also seen this documentation (proof) used to show performers that what they advertised (promised) was not what they delivered. And in some cases, it justified the talent booker not paying the performer.

Example…

This past winter I received a call from a talent booker to warn me about a certain comedian who was promoting himself as a clean (G-rated) act. He had scheduled the comic for a corporate show and was called-out by the client because the comic not only talked graphically about sex, but also dropped the F-bomb in the process.

Of course the comic protested. He said his material was not that dirty.

So the talent booker told him to prove it. Send the audio or video. The comic couldn’t because he didn’t record. So it came down to the client’s word vs. the comic’s word.

Can you guess who won?

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

Mondays, Tuesdays and (for Toastmasters members) Wednesdays

* NEW GROUPS STARTING:

Monday – July 27 / Tuesday – July 28 / Wednesday – July 29, 2020

For details, upcoming dates and to register visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Comedy Workshops for Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

Yeah, the angry and offended client with big corporate $$’s to spend on his next event. The booker still hoped some of that money would be spent on one of his performers, so case closed. The client demanded and received a refund, so neither the talent booker or the comic was paid. And since the talent booker wasn’t used to getting yelled at by clients because the performers he works with are expected to understand the event and “know the audience,” he called other talent bookers to warn them of the potential nightmare that comes from working with that particular comic.

That’s how I heard about it.

So now getting back to the article you mentioned, I’m guessing the judge made a ruling based on whose lawyer sounded most convincing. I don’t remember reading about the comedian recording his set. If he had, it might (or might not) have saved him time, trouble, money and future work. It’s important for creative artists to have freedom of expression, but I’ll also add this from a business side of the creative entertainment business:

There are certain limits.

What do I mean by that stipulation?

A comedy club normally is for people ages 21 and over. If someone fits that demographic but is easily offended, then they need to follow the rule of “buyer beware.” If the show is announced for “mature audiences only” you can bet the comic on stage will practice his or her right of free speech at some point or another. If someone doesn’t like it – they should leave.

Watching the tube!

It’s similar to watching television. If I don’t like a show I’ll change the channel. But I won’t impose my beliefs on someone else who might enjoy it. As an example I’ll use all the violent murder and detective shows on prime time that I have no desire to watch. But they pull in high ratings, so who am I to prevent others from tuning in? Instead, I’ll just change the channel to The Voice or a rerun of Seinfeld. Those are the types of shows I enjoy watching.

But performers also need to be aware of the event and audience.

As mentioned above, a late night comedy club show will be different than a corporate event. Comedy clubs are where comedians can practice free speech, while corporate comics need to be funny using G-rated material.

To prove (document) my point, here’s an experience with someone that “did not know his audience” that I still find unforgettable and unforgivable…

Many years ago I took our young son to a very well known amusement park. It wasn’t Disney because they have standards about this stuff. But as we walked around all these rides and games meant for little kids, I saw a guy wearing a white t-shirt with the F-Bomb spelled out in all it’s four-letter glory in BIG bold black lettering as in “F(bomb) YOU!”

Sorry Mr. Living-On-The-Edge, but that was not the time or place for your political incorrectness. Performers who work in the comedy and speaking biz will understand. It’s called knowing your audience and the audience this idiot had was a bunch of little kids with their parents.

This goes both ways.

Performers must know your audience. Audiences must realize where they are. If it’s a corporate show it’ll be clean. If it’s a comedy club, chances are something will be said that’s not appropriate for young kids or anyone easily offended.

When you cross the line, that’s when the trouble – and bad-mouthing phone calls – can start. Your best defense is to always record your set and be sure it backs up what you’ve been hired to do.

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter?

Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

BOR sales at corporate events

Hi Dave – Your recent discussions about corporate comedy and speaking raises a question about back-of-room (BOR) sales. Merchandise sales are common in comedy shows and speaking engagements open to the public. But what about corporate gigs where the company is paying you? Is that something most companies accept, or is it generally frowned upon? At the very least, I would think we should focus very little on our products during the presentation itself (30 seconds max). How do you handle this? Thanks! DG

Hey DG – Like just about everything else in the speaking and comedy biz, it depends.

“Check out this merch!”

BOR sales of merchandise is so common today that I’m always surprised when the speaker – or comedy headliner AND feature act AND opening act – isn’t camped behind a table full of merch (show-biz slang) and selling everything that isn’t nailed down after the show.

It’s a big source of income. In fact, it’s not even looked at anymore as extra income. In some cases BOR sales can add up to more money than what the comic or speaker is being paid by the talent booker just to do the gig.

For a big-time, big money example…

A few years ago, I was talking to a comedian friend (who will remain nameless because I’ll drop dollar amounts in this story, but as a hint she is in my book Comedy FAQs And Answers). She was in a panic going from a show in Florida to another in Cleveland because she had completely sold-out all her BOR merch. She needed her agent to send a shipment over-night so her money-making DVDs, CDs, T-Shirts, photos (to autograph for $$’s) and books would be available for fans to purchase after her Cleveland show.

If I remember correctly, she was paid about 10 grand for the performance itself. What I do remember correctly is that she told me she made 22 grand selling merchandise after the Florida show!

“I’ll go broke!”

Yeah, I’d be in a panic too.

Comics and speakers sell all kinds of stuff. Audience members can look at these items as souvenirs of a fun night and also a chance to get an autographed copy of something. And just in case the performer becomes famous the fan can make some money selling it on eBay. But that’s a totally different business proposition…

But you’re definitely correct it’s different when playing a corporate-paid gig. It can be done – and is quite often – but in my opinion, you need permission in advance from the person signing your check.

You don’t ever want to surprise a corporate client or event planner by setting up your mini-store at an important training seminar or formal banquet without an agreement made in advance. In fact, I recommend you get the permission in writing and that it’s included in your signed contract. I use a contract rider that includes everything from BOR sales to the exact wording of my introduction and what type of microphone I prefer.

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (for Toastmasters)

* NEW GROUPS STARTING JUNE 29, 30 and July 1, 2020

For details, upcoming dates and to register visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Comedy Workshops for Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

So even if they don’t remember giving you permission for BOR sales and ask you to start putting all your merch back into the trunk of your car, you’ll have proof of the prior agreement.

So how do I handle all this? Thank you for asking. As usual, it depends…

I do two separate corporate programs. One is based on my comedy workshops and communications course I designed for Cleveland State University. It has a 60-page workbook, but it’s not for BOR sales and I don’t pitch it during my program. The client has an option to purchase copies in advance for audience giveaways. If it’s a half or full day training seminar, it’s added into my fee so everyone in attendance will have one because we’ll use it during the program. Either way I’ll know how many are needed and can have them printed up in advance.

————————————————————————————-

Sign up now through this LINK for Dave’s free newsletter

And visit Dave’s author page at Amazon.com

———————————————————————————

So I won’t even make a 30 second pitch for BOR sales during this particular corporate-paid program. I’ll stay afterwards to talk and trade business cards because as you should already know, it’s all about networking. You never know who’s in the audience that might want to hire you for a future gig.

And when that happens, ask them in advance about BOR sales!

My second program is not for training purposes, but as entertainment. Since this is what comedians do in clubs, pay attention…

This is a pop culture program based on my books The Beatles At Shea Stadium and The Beatles In Cleveland. For this one it’s already in the contract that I do BOR sales. Like I mentioned above – and how most comedians and other entertainers should look at it – I consider this as part of my payment for doing the gig. It also helps in negotiating since BOR sales will allow me to come in for a lower fee than a no BOR sales training seminar. Book sales make up the difference.

Then again, that’s what I do and I’m only spelling it out because you asked. I’m in no-way a know-it-all about this and I’m sure there are working comics and speakers reading who will have more thoughts and personal experiences about this topic.

Care to share? We’d love to hear from you.

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter? Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

Finding corporate gigs and dealing with gatekeepers

Dave – I’ve taken your comedy workshop and it was a wonderful experience. Okay, now that I’ve saved you the time of promoting it, I did have a question. You recently wrote about using humor to gain corporate gigs. How does one go about finding these speaking opportunities? Who do you contact – event planners, Human Resources or some other person at the corporate office? What is a gatekeeper and how should one approach that gatekeeper? – B.T.

The Gatekeeper

Hey B.T. – Come on… You know me. Just because you plugged my workshop (thank you btw) doesn’t mean I’m not going to plug it again. It’s called promoting, which is what you also need to do if you want to book corporate gigs.

That’s true whether you’re a comedian, humorous speaker, or any type of presenter or entertainer. No one will hire you unless they know you’re out there and available for work.

The article you’re referring to was about using humor during your program at corporate events. It was posted in two parts, April 26 and May 10 in case anyone wants to scroll down for a reminder. But your question has given it a different spin:

How would you use humor to find and schedule corporate gigs? Here’s my take on it…

I go through phases but guess I could admit to being a big cold caller. It sounds miserable (think telemarketer) and was at first. I dreaded those work-related calls. But after much practice and bad experiences, I came up with an idea to make these calls semi-humorous. After all, I talk about humor and it was time to start using it.

The cold caller

In the corporate market you really can’t be a one-liner, class clown or jokester when first contacting a gatekeeper (we’ll get to that term in a moment) by phone. You’ll either get the Rodney Dangerfield treatment (no respect) or treated to an entire symphony of elevator musak when they put your call on hold.

It’s a business call and you have to treat it that way. BUT it’s important to have an opening line that grabs interest. It’s like writing the beginning of a comedy bit or speaker’s presentation. You want to grab your listener’s attention as soon as possible. And since you also work in the humor industry, there’s no reason why you can’t use a fun(ny) opening line as a conversation starter.

Here’s an example that I’ve used, and it’s worked – no BS:

Hello, this is (your name) and I’m calling from “beautiful” or “hot and humid” or “snowy and cold” (name the city closest to you that you know they’ve heard of).”

THEN WAIT.

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (for Toastmasters)

* NEW GROUPS STARTING JUNE 29, 30 and July 1, 2020

For details, upcoming dates and to register visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Comedy Workshops for Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

More times than not, the person answering the phone will have a comment about the city. They’ve been there; have relatives or friends living there; know something about it (good or bad – doesn’t matter); or will have at least heard of it.

BINGO!!! Conversation starter.

Let them talk and all you have to do is work off of what they’ve just given you. Get it? To continue this random example, they might go with the “weather option” you gave in your opening line or want to talk about the city’s sports teams (I get that one a lot). Then once we have a (hopefully) friendly and/or funny conversation going I ease into my sales pitch.

I have a program that would be great for your company’s next event. Let me tell you about it…

And here’s another secret. If my opener is greeted by silence or a negative reaction, I don’t waste a lot of time on the call. Since I deal with humor, this is obviously not a good fit for what I do. I’ll move onto the next one.

How do you find speaking opportunities?

————————————————————————————-

Sign up now through this LINK for Dave’s free newsletter

And visit Dave’s author page at Amazon.com

———————————————————————————

Cold calling is just one way – and usually everyone’s least favorite. The best is always in person networking. I talk about this in much more detail in my book How To Be A Working Corporate Comedian, but in a nutshell, every community has business organizations looking for presenters. Play detective and find the person that schedules these meetings and volunteer to speak for FREE.

This is a major source for contacts.

Not only can you showcase in front of potential clients, but they’ll also usually feed you for FREE. Do a meet and greet and liberally hand out your business cards while trying to collect as many as you can. Some audience members might have an event coming up and would be interested in hiring you based on your FREE showcase presentation.

I’ve booked quite a few paying gigs this way and gained a few pounds at the same time.

As far as who you should contact…

You’ll need to play detective again to find out that info for individual corporate events. I’ve learned firsthand it can be just about anyone from an assistant to the head honcho of the company. Go online and learn what you can about the company before calling. You can also ask the gatekeeper

Who??

Life past the gatekeeper!

The gatekeeper is the person that answers the phone during your cold calls and considers it to be his or her personal mission to keep you from talking to the decision maker. And in case you need a refresher, the decision maker is the person that can hire you. You need to convince the gatekeeper that you and (especially) your comedy act or speaking presentation is worthy of personal contact with the decision maker.

Sometimes the above-mentioned creative (humorous) example can be the needed cold call icebreaker. Other times it turns into a longer process. This would involve sending information and promotional videos showing what you can offer to make their event successful – and hope the decision maker sees it. Then you need to follow-up without being a pain in the you-know-what.

How do you do that? It’s in my book How To Be A Working Comic (another plug!) and involves a timely use of phone calls, emails and postcards. There are no guarantees, but gatekeepers, event planners, human resources, assistants and head honchos will never know you’re even out there and available unless you present yourself.

It’s called promoting. And in my opinion, an element of humor can help you stand out from the competition.

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter? Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

Doing new material for a comedy contest

Hey Dave – I won a spot in the amateur contest finale show next week. My question to you is this: I used my same set that you saw and it rocked. Should I go back there with that exact same set or a completely new one untested? Can I put in a few new bits and keep the rest the same? Thanks for your time – N.D.

Hey N.D. – That’s great news – congrats! Good things can happen when you “rock” on stage.

Rock the stage!

To answer your question, I’ll need to rely on what I’ve been told by too many comedians and behind the scenes people over the years. I’ve been involved with many auditions, which are different than contests. At an audition the comedians would do about five to seven minutes to be considered for a booking. When I was in Los Angeles it was three to five minutes when auditioning for most of the television shows, including The Tonight Show and on down the list.

We didn’t see the same material twice because there were no preliminaries and finals like in a comedy contest. The comic either got the gig or didn’t. If one of the talent bookers wanted to see the comic again it meant he/she was interested, but also wanted to see different material.

In comedy contests you have to know “what got you there” and what will keep you around until the end. In my book Comedy FAQs And Answers I asked the same question to an important Hollywood television producer (you’ll have to read the book to find out). His answer?

“Always go with your A-Game.”

In other words, never do an audition, showcase or (important) contest with untested material. Otherwise just consider it “stage time” (practice) and use it as that. Use it to work on material, delivery, timing, stage fright or whatever you need to improve to get better.

Don’t judge me!

But since you’re excited by going this far in the contest you should follow the above advice. Go with your A-Game and don’t do the untested set.

Since this is during a live show and not a repeat performance in front of a small panel of judges you’re going to have a different audience. So don’t worry about people having heard your material earlier. And as for the club staff, the hard workers behind the scenes are there every night and know many comedians do essentially the same act every show.

But now we’ll throw a little variation into the mix…

Comedians – good comedians anyway – are creative artists. I’ve said that many times before because it’s true. They are constantly writing and constantly anxious to try out new material to see how an audience will react. Many of my favorites that I’ve seen dozens of times over the years always have something new to say. But they also know “what got them there” as far as paid bookings and fans. They already know through experience what material is proven to work, whether it’s a great opening, closing or a solid punch to the funny bone in the middle of their set, and they’ll deliver it.

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (for Toastmasters)

* NEW GROUPS STARTING WEEK OF JUNE 1, 2020!

For details, upcoming dates and to register visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Comedy Workshops for Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

When a comedian does a Comedy Central special, you can bet the material has been tried out more than a few times before the show is filmed. The stakes are too high and no one including the comedian, management, producer, network and beyond can afford a “bomb.” It wouldn’t help anyone’s career.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves…

You are going up in an amateur contest next week, which isn’t Comedy Central, but it can also be an important step in your career. If your creativity is telling you to try something new, it’s probably a good idea to try it out somewhere else first. Do some open mics and get a feel for the delivery and audience response. It’s what you did anyway in putting together the material that “got you there” and the process shouldn’t stop now.

Here comes the judge!

When it comes to the contest performance, do the material that really works best. If it’s the same set you did it at the earlier show, the new audience won’t know. And unless the contest judges requested something new – and obviously they didn’t or we wouldn’t be having this discussion – they should make their decisions based on audience response. Of course it doesn’t always happen that way, but your main goal should be entertaining the audience. If you get a great response and don’t get crowned the winner it’s not the end of the world – or your career.

You still win. You’ve had more stage time, which is an opportunity to get better. And as far as I know and from what I’ve been told, that’s what’s important to a creative artist.

Remember what got you there – a set that rocked. You want to rock again and that could be a crapshoot for a newer comedian with untested material. In these situations give them your best – your A-Game. But keep writing and looking for more opportunities to get on stage because in the long run, that’s how you’ll put together the material “that got you there” if Comedy Central ever calls.

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter? Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

Use humor to get corporate gigs – Part 2

I just completed a comedy workshop and also, I’m reading your book How To Be A Working Comic. I would also like to learn about humorous presentations and keynote opportunities. – Sincerely, EM

Okay, if you’re following along that’s the same question from our last newsletter.

Or Part 2?

You’ll also remember the answer was getting a bit long and the executive decision (mine) was made to break it up into two parts. If you’d like to check out Part 1 just scroll down or check out my last email.

To continue where we left off…

Now, before you shake your head and think I’m nuts because there’s “no way” you could ever relate to corporate event themes, here’s a news update:

Chances are you can.

I say that because I’ve worked with and watched dozens of talented local and national comedians turn themselves into corporate comedians or humorists by taking their comedy material and focusing it on the audience and the event.

They’ve done this through simple research. Usually by emailing a short survey to the event planner or a phone interview with the client. They find out the “theme” for the event, the company’s product and the focus of the conference training seminars. Then they can take this information and see how his/her existing comedy material relates.

Okay, stop it…

Stop shaking your head because I’m not done yet. For example…

If you have a family, you’re probably an “expert” on communications, team building and customer service. Yeah, it may sound ridiculous because it might only be about communicating with your parents, spouse, kids or other relatives. But since these are important topics within the “business world” and focused on during the conference, your performance would be “entertainment” that is based on the “theme.”

The topics are the same.

You’re just relating to them in a different way as a humorist. Put focus on the conference theme (ex: the importance of communicating) and how you deal with it on a personal level (ex: “I don’t understand how my family communicates”) and it becomes info-tainment.

Are you still shaking your head? I’ll continue…

A couple years ago I did a breakout session at a medical conference. And here’s a confession – I ain’t no doctor. But one of the conference topics was stress relief. I’m a comedy coach and talk about humor. One of the benefits of humor is relieving stress. I was the only person in the room without a medical degree, white coat and stethoscope – and probably the only one that got paid for that particular hour. I made sure my topic – finding humor in stressful situations – related to their event.

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (for Toastmasters)

* NEW GROUPS STARTING WEEK OF JUNE 1, 2020!

For details, upcoming dates and to register visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Comedy Workshops for Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

My topic, or expertise, was a good example of what the doctors were talking about in their training seminars (info) and we had more than a few laughs (entertainment).

The event planner may have hired a big-time keynote speaker or high-priced entertainer for a highlight event during the conference, but to make it a highlight they would probably need big-time doctor credentials (keynote) or television credits (entertainer). If you can compete for those gigs, then go for it. Otherwise, start thinking about how your comedy expertise can get you booked for one of the many other (paying) speaker opportunities.

A stand-up comedian who doesn’t customize his material for the event can still get hired as the entertainment. A humorous speaker can be hired for keynotes, training seminars, break out sessions – and as the entertainment.

What this means is that you don’t need to work laughs into a strict business training program about… well, corporate stuff such as taxes, law, productivity, networking, increasing sales and all that. If you have experience in those fields and can speak as a “trainer” with humor you should be in demand. But even if you don’t, you might have comedy material that is relatable to those topics. So, find a creative way to relate what you already talk about to the audience and the event.

This is another way of saying know your audience.

Motivational Speaker

The topic of the conference could be anything from business techniques such as learning power point or relieving office stress, to more personal topics like juggling a family and a career, to improving your golf game.

Were you ever a parent, child, golfer, lawyer, teacher, minister, truck driver, bartender or anything other than a comedian? Then you have a business or personal topic you can share. Talk about your business or personal experiences (I’ll bet you already do in your act) while making it funny and entertaining, and you’ll be considered a humorous speaker.

For example…

I’m sure a comedian with teaching experience would have some very funny stories and advice to share if team-building was a corporate breakout session topic. So would soccer moms and dads, military vets, sports fans, frat boys, factory workers, gang members – and anyone else that has ever been part of a team.

This also works if you have a particular message.

Have you or anyone close to you survived a disease, injury or other tragedy? I hate to list those suggestions as moneymakers, but I’ve seen many comedians on the corporate and college circuits turning negatives into positives as humorous motivational speakers. If your story can help someone else – then it’s worthy of telling. And if you can make it entertaining, your audience will tend to listen and “get” your message. The same idea holds true for insights on bullying, alcohol awareness and other important topics. Do you have experience in these fields? Talk, share, motivate, teach, train and entertain as a comedian.

That’s what sells in the corporate market.

The idea is not to be limited to only going for the corporate entertainment gigs that seem to peak during holidays and slow down the rest of the year. If your material and performance is relatable to the event and funny, you’ll find more opportunities for work.

I’ll talk more about this topic in the coming weeks because I have a lot to share. But here’s another big chunk of advice that I’ve shared numerous times in earlier newsletters.

Keep it clean!

For corporate shows, we’re talking G and PG (at the max) rated. Don’t even try to test that warning in an attempt to prove me wrong. You won’t – and you also won’t work corporate gigs where you can make more money in an hour than you can during an entire weekend at a comedy club.

And if you remember how we started in Part 1 of this discussion, that’s a correct answer to a big-money topic. And now for my brilliant callback…

I guess I should’ve been a game show host.

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter? Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

Use humor to get corporate gigs – Part 1

Mr. Schwensen – I just completed a comedy workshop and also, I’m reading your book How To Be A Working Comic. I would also like to learn about humorous presentations and keynote opportunities. – Sincerely, EM

Hey EM – First of all, I write these newsletters for a bunch of funny comedians and humorous speakers. We’re not exactly standing up on the top tier of formality in our biz, so “Mr. Schwensen” and “Sincerely” will have to go. Our favorite terms of endearment are…

Well, since I’ve promised to keep this newsletter rated G and PG for our younger readers (and the parents that screen them) I won’t make a list. But next time, “Hey Dave” will work just fine.

Second, thanks for the book plug. Saves me from having to do it myself this week… ha!

“Humorous presentations and keynote opportunities.”

You’re a winner!

If I was a game show host we’d be celebrating right now because you just hit on a big-money topic. It also happens to be one that I don’t think enough comedians are taking advantage of:

Humorous speaking gigs.

Of course, there are comedy and speaking gigs available in the club, college and cruise ship markets, but when you mention presentations and keynotes, my mind races to the corporate market (includes businesses, associations and social organizations) where there are a lot of opportunities for speakers that are humorous.

Corporate events will hire entertainers, such as comedians, musicians and variety acts for special occasions, holiday parties, retirement banquets and in general, when they need entertainment. Usually, that will be one big blow-out show as the entertainment highlight of the conference. The entertainer who scores that spot could be in line for a big payday. But you know what? At many conferences there are keynotes (breakfast, lunch and dinner), training seminars and breakout sessions throughout the day – for as many days as the conference runs.

That’s a lot of spots to fill – with speakers.

Spaces to fill

At corporate functions there are more opportunities for presenters who can inform as well as entertain. And when that info-tainment requirement includes laughter, event planners seem to be more open to hire humorous speakers.

Speakers bureaus (which operate like entertainment agencies) list more humorous speakers on their rosters than entertainers. Why? Because they get more work in the corporate market and that’s how the bureaus stay in business. And if you look into it (Google a few) you’ll find the humorous speakers have at least a few general topics that could fit into various events.

They’re still doing comedy, but it relates to the audience and theme of the event.

Most conference training seminars and keynotes consist of the “hands-on” experienced information attendees need for professional development. That’s the reason to have a conference.

For example:

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

New evening groups – Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (for Toastmasters)

For details, upcoming dates and to register visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Comedy Workshops for Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

If it’s a conference on law enforcement, the training seminars might teach the best way to bust crooks. If it’s about being a grocery store clerk, they’ll learn new techniques in bagging groceries. Since the majority of entertainers won’t have experience in either profession their best chance to book the gig at either conference is if entertainment is needed.

With budget cuts, time restrictions and other factors dictating how business conferences are planned, hiring someone purely for entertainment purposes is usually the first casualty. Sure, CEO’s and event planners want their events to be fun and memorable for the employees and associates, but they also need to serve a purpose.

Usually it involves training and how to do their business better.

So, a big chunk of the budget will be used to bring in the trainers and speakers who do just that. And instead of hiring a high-priced comedian to perform an after dinner show as the highlight entertainer, they might bring in a karaoke machine or local deejay.

Believe me, not only are comics frustrated by that – so are their agents.

But good event planners also know it’s important for conference attendees to have a positive experience. You know what they say about all work and no play… So, entertainment can still be a factor, especially if it relates to the event.

For example:

Even if a comedian or speaker doesn’t have experience or training in a certain profession they can still be booked for a presentation if they have topics pertaining to these services. If we stick with law enforcement and grocery bagging, it’s a good bet there will be training seminars on communications, customer service and team building. Do you have any comedy material or experiences that might even come close to any of those topics?

Then your goal is to customize it for the event.

Now, before you shake your head and think I’m nuts because there’s “no way” you can relate to corporate event themes, chances are you can. I say that because I’ve worked with and watched dozens of talented local and national comedians turn themselves into “corporate humorists” by taking their comedy material and focusing it on their audience and the event.

But you know what? This is turning into one of my longer ramblings, so it might be a good idea to take a break. We’ll “focus” on that topic in two weeks in Part 2. Until then – keep laughing!

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter? Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

In search of the perfect audience

Hey Dave – I think I’m getting pretty good audience response while on stage. Even when I feel most of the crowd is with me I always notice the people not laughing. What would other comics do? Focus on the ones not laughing to get them with me or ignore them and just keep going? Thanks – A.J.

Hey A.J. – No lie. I was just talking with a comic about this. The conversation was about connecting with your fan base – both in performances and with marketing. Since you’re talking about being on stage, I’ll save the marketing thoughts from our conversation for the end of this FAQ And Answer

Not everybody!

I think most performers understand they’re not going to get 100% of an audience.

Okay, maybe if you’re a cult leader or a maniacal dictator. But even then I can imagine there would be someone in the crowd thinking he’d better pass on drinking the Kool Aid and get his passport updated for a permanent location change.

Unless you have the perfect audience (as rare as the perfect storm?) there will be someone who won’t think you’re funny. It’s the nature of the entertainment business. You could be the most popular and highest-paid performer in the world and there will always be someone, somewhere, that wouldn’t have any interest in going to your show.

I gave an example last week about how an audience might react if Justin Bieber opened a concert for The Rolling Stones. They don’t attract the same audience and there’s nothing (I can think of anyway) either act can do to change that.

Another example from last week was about Jerry Seinfeld. I’m still shocked about that one. If you missed it, just scroll down…

Not enjoying the show

Even though it’s not impossible, the odds are you’re not going to “get” 100% of the audience. So what should you do? Continue to entertain the ones enjoying your show – or concentrate on “getting” the ones obviously missing out on all the fun?

As a talent booker and club manager – in other words, working for a club owner and doing my best to keep him/her happy and profitable – I’d want as many people as possible to have fun because they will hopefully become returning (and paying) customers. So that means I wouldn’t want the comic to stop performing for the already-satisfied customers.

The comic might risk losing them in an effort to “get” the not-laughing people.

There’s also a risk the comic will never get the not-laughing people no matter how hard he/she works on entertaining them. This could cut the fun factor or even ruin the show for everyone else.

How?

The comic and audience would be focused on the people not laughing. They’re obviously not having as much fun as everyone else and their attitude could change the “feeling” in the room. I’m sure we’ve all experienced times when an “attitude” can ruin a good time. If you’ve ever been a parent of a teenager (or remember being a teenager) you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

—————————————————————————-

Interactive Online Comedy Workshops via Zoom

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

New groups beginning April 27, May 5 and May 6

Workshop Marquee 150

For more information and to register for upcoming sessions visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Workshop dates for The Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

Comics and speakers know within a few minutes of going on stage what members of the audience are “with them” based on their response. They also recognize the ones that are not. It could have to do with someone’s taste in humor, language, topics – or even the way the comic or speaker looks.

Some may be laughing from the moment you start talking while others are others are waiting to be “won over.” Unfortunately, there’s also a good chance some won’t like you no matter what you say or do.

It’s like a roller coaster at an amusement park. Ask everyone to get on the ride. A few won’t want to. Are you going to delay the ride and try to coax and convince them they’ll have a great time while everyone else is sitting there – possibly getting bored while waiting for you to show them a fun time on the ride?

Nope.

Take’em on a ride!

Take them on the ride and leave the few non-riding (non-laughing) stiffs behind. Not everyone wants to ride the roller coaster, just like not everyone is going to think you’re the next Jerry Seinfeld. So don’t waste your time or efforts trying to force them. Have fun with the ones who want to go with you.

As Steven Stills once sang: “Love the one you’re with.”

If you have the majority already laughing and a few not really with you, my thought (as a talent booker, manager and someone wanting to keep a club owner happy and profitable) is not to waste your energy and entertainment value on what might be a no-win situation.

To give it another perspective I’ll refer back to the conversation I mentioned earlier.

This was with a comedian friend concerning marketing. He told me there’s no reason to send his promotional material to someone – in his case a corporate event planner – that has made it clear she never hires comedians. What is he going to do – change her opinion?

Chances are he won’t.

So instead of spending the extra time and extra effort on a long shot, he feels it’s best to go right for the people who already like what he does (comedy). Then continue to find others, which should lead to more work.

I think this is good advice both in performing AND marketing.

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter? Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter

Same show, but different audience response

Hey Dave – You talked last week about audiences giving objective feedback. I did a five minute open-mic at The Improv that killed! People were coming up to me telling me I was the funniest of the 20 comics by far and that I was hilarious. Fast forward to last night at a different open-mic… Exact same set from The Improv – no change at all and NOTHING!! Not even a snicker or two. I was shocked. I thanked them for being so quiet while I practiced my comedy. Those nights are painful, but I know they are part of the process. I’m just amazed at the change from one crowd to another. – M

Not the best show.

Hey M. – Every group of people has its own personality, just like individuals. Sometimes that personality will like what you do on stage and other times it won’t.

It’s like the old saying: “You can’t please everyone.”

That’s one thing comedians and speakers need to realize. They’re not going to have one hundred percent of the audience love everything they say or do on stage. It just won’t happen – and I don’t care who the performer is.

An example I use about this in my comedy workshops involves Jerry Seinfeld

I consider Seinfeld to be one of the top comedians not only of our time, but in the long history of comedy. Right up there with Richard Pryor, George Carlin and the other legends mentioned the most as influences by the working comics I’ve interviewed for my books. Seinfeld’s name starting creeping in during the success of his TV show and it’s stayed there.

I’ve been fortunate to see Seinfeld perform dozens of times. Mostly it was at the LA Improv when the TV show Seinfeld was still in production and he would stop by the club to work on new material. I was in the audience at The Cleveland Improv during the filming of his movie Comedian and have also seen him do a few theater shows.

The last time I saw him (theater show) he was GREAT!! He KILLED and it was positively the BEST show I had seen him do, at least in my humble opinion (do I really possess such a trait?). I laughed from beginning to end.

BUT on the way out of the theater, there were two couples walking behind us. One of the guys turned to the others and said:

“Say what?!”

“You should’ve seen him last time. He was a lot funnier than this.”

My jaw dropped in disbelief, but then I slammed it shut. Every individual has his own personality and opinions and obviously, this guy had one that was different than mine. It’s the same when a group of people get together.

An audience develops a personality.

You mentioned The Improv. It’s a known comedy club (for over half a century folks!) and people go there to see comedy. They are more supportive audiences than what you would usually find at an open-mic in a stereotypical neighborhood bar. You know the type I mean – the kind of place where the bartender shuts off the televisions and announces to his customers:

“It’s time for a little comedy.”

To put this into classic television perspective, imagine Sam Malone pulling that on the gang at Cheers in the middle of a Red Sox or Celtics game. Let’s just say that a bar-crowd audience will not be as supportive of a comedy night as an audience of comedy fans at The Improv.

Different audiences have different personalities.

—————————————————————————-

Online Interactive Comedy Workshops via Zoom

Group beginning March 30 – SOLD OUT!

4 Weeks / 4 Sessions / Space limited

New groups forming – dates and times TBA

Workshop Marquee 150

For more information and to register for upcoming sessions visit…

TheComedyBook.com

For questions – please use contact link above or email dave@thecomedybook.com

Workshop dates for The Chicago & Cleveland Improv Comedy Clubs TBA

*

———————————————————

Can you play both? An experienced comedian has a pretty good chance. A beginning comic needs to look at it as real life on-stage experience.

Sometimes you can’t do anything about it. Certain audiences (like people with certain personalities) will not like you no matter what you do. They’re not your crowd and it happens to everyone during the course of their careers. Imagine if you produced a show and your co-headliners were complete opposites when it comes to performing styles. Off the top of my head, I’ll go with Bill Maher and Carrot Top. Depending on who has the most fans in the audience, that comic will get more laughs than the other based on the comedy tastes of the majority of the crowd.

In other words, a big chunk of a performer’s success depends on the crowd’s personality.

Another off the top of my head example (for music fans) would have Justin Bieber opening a concert for The Rolling Stones. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty…

From watching more comedy shows than rock concerts, but also learning from both, some good advice when you’re having a difficult time is to try and engage the audience in your set more than you normally do. I’ve talked about this technique in earlier FAQ’s And Answers, but here’s a quick rerun…

Years ago, I saw one of the best comedy writers in the business perform his regular set at the Los Angeles Improv. From past experiences watching him many times before, his material was guaranteed to get laughs. I had never seen him bomb or ever had any expectations of seeing him bomb. But for some reason on this particular Friday night the crowd wasn’t laughing – at all.

So instead of chalking it up to a bad experience or blaming the audience and hoping his next crowd would be more receptive, this “material” comedian took the microphone out of the stand and started talking with the audience. He used all the old comedian tricks:

Still one of Dave’s favorites (H.Y.)

“Where’ya from?” and “What’da’ya do for a living?”

Next thing you know, he had engaged the audience. They were suddenly interested in what he was saying.

He had related to them.

Then (and this was the cool part) he stepped back, put the microphone back in the stand, and went into his usual material that I had seen work many times before. And this time – it worked again.The audience laughed all the way through the remainder of his set.

After he got off stage, I talked to him about it (I was the talent booker and allowed to do that). He said – like every comedian – he had started out as an opening act. It’s what you have to do to be a good MC.

You must learn how to relate to and engage the audience. I hadn’t seen him do it before since he was already a headliner when we met. He hadn’t needed to rely on his MC / opening act skills at The Improv (the only venue where I had seen him) in a long time because his material was practiced and usually worked. But when it didn’t, he went back to what he learned at the beginning of his career, which was relating to the audience, and continuing until they’re with him.

Make sense?

You may not kill at every open-mic because of this great advice and the audience may not like you no matter what you do. But this will at least give you a fighting chance. Talk with the crowd, relate to them, find out what they’re interested in – and play off it. It’s like you’re the host of a party and it’s your job to greet everyone and make sure they feel involved. Make them feel like they’re a welcomed guest.

Once that happens you can kill them with your comedy.

If not, then you might have to admit they’re not your audience and move on. It’s sort of like being Justin Bieber at a Rolling Stones concert, or the guy walking behind me after the Seinfeld show. We definitely had clashing personalities that night, but you know me. I kept my (humble) opinions to myself… ha!

Have a comment or want to sign up for Dave’s free newsletter? Please use the form below.

Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

Click on the banner to sign up for Dave’s FREE newsletter