The Indy comedy scene has seen tremendous growth in the last few years and it’s really fun to watch it continue to rocket upward. Seeing so many comics in the trenches, working and grinding is inspiring.
“But with great power, comes great responsibility” -DMX
I just wanted to take some time to give some unwarranted “advice” to anyone interested. I’m a big believer in finding your own way, but the sharing of ideas and experience is paramount to getting better. Before getting started, let me start by saying that I know nothing. These are only my opinions that I’ve formed over the time I’ve done stand-up. With that said, know that everything I say comes from a good place and I’d love to talk with any of you in more detail about any of it. Okay. Here we go.
- Advice ain’t shit- Rodney Dangerfield once said that the worst vice is advice. This is especially true with comedy and comedy writing. In a field where the end game is self-actualization, finding and using your own voice is something that takes a very long time. There really aren’t any shortcuts here. Last week I overheard someone giving a newer comic all sorts of do’s and do not’s about working on material and getting on shows. Advice on how you should work on your own material is insane to me. Especially if the advice is coming from a comic who has done absolutely nothing and doesn’t have more than 20 minutes of material themselves. When you’re a young comic, it’s hard to discern good advice from old hot garbage. Rely on your common sense and if you struggle with common sense, reach out to a comic with decent experience. There are quite a few in the Indy scene and beyond that are eager to help and genuinely want to see the younger people succeed. Ultimately though, it’s your career and your voice.
- Your comfort zone ain’t shit- Indy has exploded into a scene of being able to get on stage 5 or 6 times a week. This was not always the case. This is really great because there is nothing better for getting better than stage time. Also, seeing the same comics multiple times a week can be beneficial for competition. If Comic A sees that Comic B is working new bits, adding tags to old bits, and getting booked on shows on the reg, Comic B will begin to work harder not to be left in Comic A’s shadow of fucking heat. In turn, Comic’s C-G will be waiting in the wings for Comic B to start slipping so they can pass that lazy motherfucker. It’s grimy out here. This is good though. Your friends should push you to be better and vice versa. The negative side of being able to stay in your city and get ample stage time, is that you never get out of your city. This is NOT GOOD. You absolutely have to do different times of rooms when you are starting. How else will you know what you are made of? How else will you get real confidence? That edge? Find black rooms, find hillbilly rooms…Do those lodges in Martinsville. Go to a gay bar open mic. I know you ain’t SCARRRED IS YOU??? (Sorry). Think of what someone like Stewart Huff does with his Southern Tour. Stewart Huff is the best for a reason y’all. Go to different scenes, meet other comics, network(gross). I think if you can do something that make you uncomfortable at least once a month, you are on the right track.
- Your phone ain’t shit- If you’re at a show…be at the show. Be present. Put your phone down and be at the show. Support your fellow comics by paying attention in a way that we beg our actual audiences to pay attention. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a comic scroll through their FB timeline and then get on stage and yell at a person for being on their phone. Lead by example young Lion.
- Stack Your Paper – Getting paid in comedy is way way better than not getting paid in comedy. Obviously, it’s your career, but a popular goal is to get paid for your comedic efforts. There are only a few paid club spots every weekend so in order to be considered for those, you need to consciously make that a goal of yours. Go to the open mic every week, whether or not you are on it. When you are on, be sure to GET LAUGHS! Emcee’s are often asked to be clean, so do your best to do that for your 5 or 6 minutes. Go to one or two pro shows every weekend. It’s also very important that you aren’t a grade A asshole while you are at the club. Be nice to the staff. Introduce yourself to the emcee if you don’t already know that person. Hang out. Be a comic. There are a number of independent shows and one nighters that pay pretty well. Most bookers will need to see you in person or hear about you through the grapevine. If you are out hitting mics, doing showcases and doing well this will happen naturally. But in case it doesn’t, make sure you are aiming to get a good set on tape that you can send to bookers. When sending an unsolicited booking e-mail/message, it’s important that you show your value without coming off like some arrogant motherfucking douchenougat. State clearly who you are, what you’ve done and what you would like. This is an example of something that would be good to get advice on how to do properly. Bottom line, don’t be a dick -Stack that scrilla.
- Slow down – Comedy is fun. But it ain’t easy on the ol psyche. Navigating the roller coaster of self-doubt as a writer and performer is tumultuous. At times it feels like “Why the fuck am I doing this? What’s the point? No one gets me!”…I think this is normal. My remedy is always been to write through those feelings. It’s never funny, and sometimes it’s really sad. But if I write about the times that I’m feeling shitty, I’ve found that I am able to enjoy the great times so much more. I’m able to slow down and realize, “What I do is pretty fucking cool. I’m doing what I love. How many people can say that? I’m pretty lucky.” Be sure to enjoy and cherish this current moment. It’s important and it won’t last forever. Slow down, take a look around and realize you’re a fucking badass following your dreams. You don’t need to have all of the answers. You don’t need anything. You’re the shit!
Love you all. Feel free to reach out to me if you ever need to talk about anything, have any questions or anything of that nature. Like I said earlier, I know nothing but this is a goddamn community and I’ve got your back.