Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
1 - good headshots -- b/w and color --- digital, though a few hardcopy are a good idea as well
2 - a one-page - something with a little bit of design flair that lists the best places you've played, positive quotes about your act, companies you've worked for, and any respected and/or celebrity comedians you may have worked with ---- credits, basically.
4 - video - film a 1/2 hour set at the best venue you can get --- you don't need to mess around with multi-camera set-ups etc. just get a good venue with a good crowd. You'll want a copy of the full length set for comedy club agents and then edit out the highlights and have a separate demo of them for the others - put the best one or two on youtube. Do as clean a set as is comfortable for you as it gives you more flexibility - unless, of course, edge is the essence of your act.
For the local agents/clubs try to drop them off in person and have a coffee with the agent/owner involved - get to know them a little - having a reference/introduction from another comedian always makes things much easier. Lists of agents and clubs across the country are easily available online, send both hardcopy and e-mail to the ones that you think will fit you best. Also, make sure you have a showcase set that you can perform for any agents, managers, festival co-ordinators etc. - a five minute set that can easily be shortened or lengthened and emphasizes originality.
I hope this is helpful let me know if you have any questions ...
Monday, 27 April 2009
When people take my stand-up workshops they often talk about what a great fear they have about doing stand-up. The fear of public speaking and stage-fright in general are broad subjects but in terms of bridging that initial gap and actually putting yourself on stage I would like to provide something of a roadmap to anyone who is interested. The first key to this process is demystifying it; break it down into a few tangible elements. There are three main areas that you can put time and effort into that will ease you into your first stand-up performance that much more comfortably: construction, delivery and situation.
1 – Construction --- Put together your material in advance – you will probably be doing a five minute set so put together the right amount of material and really get to know it. I say get to know it rather than memorize it because the process of word for word memorization can tie people up. If you have a style like Steven Wright you will have to do quite a bit of memorization but most styles are more flexible. In the time immediately before you go on stage refer a list of the subjects you are going to talk about( eg: drinking, Christmas, dieting,
a - you should be doing material because you think it’s funny, not just because you think a crowd might laugh at it.
b – to go through and edit your material several times – go through it sentence by sentence and determine "is this part essential to understanding the bit?" and " is it funny?" If it is neither…. Get rid of it! Keep things trim.
Once you have put together some material, edited out the non-essential parts and feel you can remember it all you are on the way.
2 – Delivery --- In comedy, how you say things can sometimes be more important than what you are actually saying. Try to take note of what things define the way you speak and what people find amusing. You can work on delivery in casual conversations. If you have a subject you want to do some comedy on, talk with people about it – not necessarily as “a comedy piece” but just as a normal topic of conversation. Get comfortable on the topic, how you like to speak about it and what seems to amuse people. If you are inclined to doing voices, acting things out, telling stories, using facial expressions etc. pay attention to yourself when you are doing them and remember that you will probably have license to really use them on stage. So figure out some of the characteristics that you have and start getting control of them.
3 – Situation --- Take control of the situation that comedy takes place in so it doesn’t take control of you. In a general sense, you should seize any opportunity you have that involves standing up and speaking to a group of people, if there is a microphone and lights involved, even better. This doesn’t have to involve any comedy at all, it is more about being comfortable in front of a group of people, holding their attention, using a microphone, having lights on you etc. etc. In the specific, you should go and see some live comedy shows, figure out which venue you might be able to perform in and get to know it. Get to know the people who organize the comedy show, get to know what type of crowds go there, meet some of the comedians, get to know how they perform and ask their advice, most are happy to give it.
Know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and the situation that you will be in – it’s that simple. If you pay attention to these things you’ll be far more comfortable on that stage when you finally get there – and, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about the process in the meantime – good luck and….. enjoy!!
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Friday, 3 April 2009
The venues involved in this wholesale giveaway of comedy talent are typically nothing you would expect a performer to covet: sports bars with a hundred flickering televisions or coffee shops where the crowds and the Columbian are equally lukewarm and thin. To be fair there are also well run, ambitious little gigs that boast a heart of regulars and a great space to do seven minutes without the constraints that money gigs can bring. Regardless of the quality of the venue, as long as the management has no complaints and some patient soul remains willing to donate their time and effort into organization the gig will continue. Sometimes long after it should have been allowed to die with dignity.
It is a peculiar mixture of ego, art and adrenaline that keeps the comedian's enthusiasm unbridled and while the public demand for live stand-up will ebb and flow, nothing will, it seems, diminish the supply or the needs of the stand-up comedy addicts.
Friday, 20 March 2009
Interestingly enough, writing stand-up comedy involves actually putting pen to paper or, at least, fingers to keyboard. Typing out your material does have certain advantages in terms of organization and editing but using the pen at some point near it's inception is often pretty much essential to capture the idea while it’s still moving. It’s also a good idea to have your material somewhere nearby when you are working so you can refresh your memory, plan your setlist etc. which is generally better done on paper. It is possible to get by with notes written on scraps of paper that you transfer to a book later on but that transfer is key as scraps get lost and often provide an insufficient writing space. Bottom line: GET A BOOK!
To a certain degree the type of book that you use is a matter of personal preference. I tend to use a book that is a few steps up from the average scratch pad or notebook. Something with a hard durable cover that can stand up well to the abuse dished out by the many environments it will likely travel to. It is my experience that if you have a comedy book that you like by itself as “a book” - it not only gives a little more importance to what you put in it but makes it less likely to be thrown away by someone because it looked like a cheap notebook full of scribble. Tiny notebooks are useful because they are back pocket portable, but they are also harder to write in and easier to lose.
Inside your comedy book is your domain – write however you want to write: doodle, draw pictures, write clearly or scribble, as long as you can read it later and get a clear idea of the idea you originally had. Try to ensure that when you come up with an idea you capture enough of it to put the idea across later – few things are more frustrating than seeing a random word or phrase and having no idea what you were thinking of at the time-
I am not the most organizational person but I try to put my new ideas and material in the front of my book and a list of buzzwords for the contents in the back. Having a couple of setlists in the back isn’t a bad idea either if you’re inclined to use setlists.
One of the reasons to buy a good quality book is that you’ll be keeping them around for a while. Try to take a look back at the old ones once in a while to refresh your memory- ideas can get altered, reduced or forgotten. Sometimes, ideas that initially seemed weak can be spun into something great further down the line, used as throwaways, or connected with material written later down the road. Remember to write down your name and contact information in the front of your book preceded by “If found, please return to” – it can save you a lot of hassle one day.
Even though it is a book for comedy material, that doesn’t mean that everything in it has to be comedy material. Material is formed from all types of ideas, observations and attitudes; they don’t all start as actual comedy so fill your book with all kinds of things. Things you find unusual, interesting, character sketches, events, put them all in and see what they eventually turn into. Even if they never make it into they show you still have a large number of things that are interesting to you by definition.