Recording and Producing a Comedy Album & Getting to #1 on Itunes

Sunday, August 30th, 2015. It was quarter til’ 7 and people continued to file into the showroom of Morty’s Comedy Joint. There were about 30 people there and it was great to see that thirty minutes before showtime, that there would indeed be an actual audience. An irrational fear of any performer is that there will be NO ONE in the audience on their big night. This was my LIVE album recording after all. If no one had shown up, I would’ve had to change the title of the album from “Pacifist Aggressive” to “Spoken Word: Comedy with No Laughter”. But thanks to an actual audience, my overly caffeinated heart could rest easy.

You see, this whole putting out an album thing started at the end of 2014. It was a goal that I had set for myself – record an album and release it to the public. Goals…they are finicky little fuckers. For instance, I also set a goal to upkeep this blog at least weekly in 2014. HAHA! Seeing how this is my first post since Summer, let’s just classify that one as a FAILBLOG.ORG.

Goals tend to re-calibrate themselves as necessary. The goal to record an album was undoubtedly my biggest, and would move the rest of my goals to the back burner. The reason I wanted to do an album was because I knew that I had 45 minutes of comedy that I was proud of but that I was also tired of doing. Putting out an album would force me to no longer do most of that material and start from scratch. For those of you who know me, you know that that’s the type of challenge I live for. What I didn’t know, is the amount of time and energy that this whole process would take.

It’s now 7:10, 5 minutes before showtime, and the showroom had filled to about 70 people. I sat in the green room and tried to keep my mind off of nerves by talking random bullshit with the other comics on the show. The owner of The Comedy Attic (the now world famous comedy club that I started at -Bloomington, IN), even came to show his support. It was 3 minutes before showtime and I found myself unbelievably overwhelmed. I wasn’t Adele, “HOLY SHIT I JUST SOLD OUT MSG SO FUCK YOU IMMA HAVE A GOOD CRY” overwhelmed…but hey, I get it. The support from friends, family, locals who had seen me on shows over the years, and other comics was just a wonderful wonderful feeling. I’ll never forget that.

Six months earlier, I was sitting in a Starbucks on the Upper East Side of Manhattan having a conversation over the phone with the owner of Morty’s. “So here’s my idea,” I started, “I want to do an album recording at your club. One show, one take, whatever happens happens.” What most people don’t know about comedy albums, is that they are usually recorded over the course of 5 or 6 shows. This is smart because the comic can choose certain jokes from certain shows. Let’s say one joke got a better reaction on Friday’s late show than Saturday’s early show, he/she will be able to use the one that got the better reaction. It’s like an insurance policy in case you fuck up or have a terrible audience. Audiences can be more fickle than goals ya know. But not me. I wanted to capture the full essence of one show. One shot. One take. Whatever happens happens.

The show was going absolutely wonderful. I had Brad Wilhelm (Bloomington), hosting. I chose Brad because I had faith in him to set up the importance of the night. Brad is special in the way that he can settle in the audience, let them know what’s going on, lay the ground rules (I.E. -No table talk and Laugh your fucking ass off), and still ensure everyone has a great time. Also on the show was Mat Alano-Martin from Bloomington and Brent Terhune and Leslie Dinsmore from Indianapolis. They all did an amazing job and I’m proud to call these comics my friends.

After I had gotten the date nailed down for the recording, my to-do list seemed endless. Some of the highlights included:

  • Find sound and mastering experts
  • Decide on distribution company
  • Nail down release date
  • Get Artwork for album cover
  • Write press releases
  • Promo Schedule
  • Buy new socks

Since I went the route of self-producing, there was a huge learning curve that needed to happen. I read article after think piece on everything from effective marketing strategy, to how the iTunes charts work to personal branding. It was like I underwent a boot camp for un-fun side of entertainment.

After my set, I felt amazing. I got what I wanted accomplished and everyone was so complimentary. I had fun and I believe that’s reflected in the finished product. For the hour that I was up there, I got to just focus on comedy. I got to focus on making people laugh. That’s why I started comedy. Not for the marketing or branding bullshit. But to make people laugh. To have intimate moments with a room full of people…For that hour, comedy felt pure.

Listening to yourself over and over again must be what hell is like. As I mentioned, I self produced, which means I self edited. This just means I got to listen to myself over and over and over again. I can honestly say that listening to I would rather be water boarded than listen to myself say “White Black Guy” again.

Thursday, December 17th. The day the album was to debut, I was lucky enough to have a release party at the aforementioned Comedy Attic in Bloomington. Although it was a show in which I was to headline, I wanted to focus on the “party” aspect of the day overall. Just a few hours earlier, I had reached #4 on the iTunes charts. I was ecstatic. Without a label, I had basically reached and legitimized my goal. I felt great, and went on stage with a kind of silly energy. By the time that I had gotten off stage, I was informed that I was #2 and for a few moments I was at #1. NUMBER ONE! WAAAAHHHH!!

It still feels great to say. Number one. And listen, comedy isn’t about being better than anyone. It’s not a competition. It’s subjective and that’s why it is beautiful. But I’d be a filthy liar if I said that it didn’t mean something to have something like this associated with my name. I worked my ass off and self produced a #1 album. Yes, that feels great to say. But, what feels even better is even being able to be in this position. The support I’ve gotten is incredible and I’m eternally grateful.

So thank you to everyone who supported the album and who have supported me throughout the years. I also want to say that if you want something bad enough, go and make it happen. You don’t have to wait for anyone to give you permission. Educate yourself and be ready to put in some hours and make some sacrifices. Go and get it! I promise that I’ll keep working and to keep pushing! Thanks again.pacifistaggressive.jpg


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