Time flies when you’re
having fun dispensing comedy career advice. It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since my breakdown of 2011’s Most Popular Connected Comedy Articles, but here we go again.
Following is a breakdown of the 20 most popular articles (and in some cases this year, podcast episodes) that I posted this year on Connected Comedy. Thanks again for reading, sharing, and commenting on all of these and I’m looking forward to another great year in 2013.
On the inaugural “scolding” episode of the podcast, we discuss the overall philosophy and theme of the podcast, why the number of Twitter followers you have doesn’t matter, setting goals for your career that don’t involve getting famous, how technology has eliminated the need for a middleman, differentiating yourself as a comic, flipping the leverage see-saw with comedy clubs, and the advantage of being an unknown.
The single biggest change in book publishing is this: The industry was built around finding readers for its writers. And new technologies and business models now mean that the most successful publishers and authors find writers for their readers instead.
In order to properly assess the traffic you get to your website, the first thing I’d want to look at is what your niche is (if any) and what the visitors to your website are interested in beyond just you. This is because the more specific your niche (and therefore the more targeted your audience), the more valuable it is to people who want to reach that niche
What would you do differently if you only needed 10 true fans to have a successful comedy career? Probably, a lot. And surprisingly, what you would do would probably be a lot more effective than what you currently do in pursuit of thousands of fans.
This week we completely rip apart stand-up comedy contests, what goals and expectations comedians should have participating in contests, and why contests may be a symptom of “lazy marketing” by both clubs and comics. Also, we ask whether or not getting on TV is overrated and how the path of success for comedians is getting hazier in this time of industry disruption.
One of the first questions most comedians ask me is either “How do I find an agent?,” “What does an agent do?,” or “Why isn’t my agent doing anything for me?” At the root of all these questions is some confusion about exactly how agents work and what their role should be in a comedian’s career. So, I thought I’d share a few basics about the agenting game that will hopefully help answer those questions.
Overall, the lesson is the same with all five of these recent social media developments – we’re living in a time of unprecedented opportunity for comedians…if you’re willing to put in the work to take advantage of it. And if you’re trying to rely on the old system to build your comedy career? The tides are rapidly turning against you.
Every once in a while it’s important to take a break from trying to figure out where the comedy industry is going and instead take a moment to learn from where it’s been. To help you do that, I’ve pulled together the following collection of 10 full stand up performances from comedians that aired more than 20 years ago.
I know most comedians cringe at the mere suggestion that they are business people, but the reality is that in order to have a successful comedy career these days you have to recognize that you are a business person – whether you choose to think of yourself as one or not. And once you come to grips with that fact, it’s worth taking a moment to consider exactly what kind of business you are running.
One of the biggest misconceptions about social media is that every platform is the same. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What works on Facebook doesn’t necessarily work on Twitter, what works on Twitter isn’t usually a great fit for YouTube, and your email list is another thing completely. But even though each channel works in its own unique way, there are some tricks you can employ to help cross promote them and grow your following across all of them.
I’m not going to weigh in on who’s right or wrong in this dustup, but rather I want to share three quick observations about it that I think are more relevant to you as a comedian trying to navigate the constantly changing landscape of the comedy business.
Comedian websites vary greatly when it comes to how they’re designed, their goals, and ultimately how effective they are. But that doesn’t mean there’s not lessons you can learn from looking at them. I’ve checked out the websites of several popular comedians and put together a few things worth noting from them.
On the “throwing bookers to the wolves” episode of the podcast, we welcome festival and club booker Matt Komen, currently of Stand-Up Live in Phoenix, on to the show to take the heat of all comedian’s frustrations with the industry. We discuss what a club manager looks for when booking a new comic, why you don’t have to be in New York or Los Angeles to get discovered, how getting the attention of headliners may be more helpful than soliciting clubs and the importance of having a 360 degree approach towards your comedy career.
Have you ever thought about how much time you spend chasing attention? All those status updates, tweets, emails to bookers, podcast recordings, YouTube videos, open mic appearances and assorted other comedic activities that you pursue are likely motivated in large part by your desire to get people’s attention. Chances are, you spend a ton of time chasing attention. But have you ever taken a moment to think about why? And whether that’s actually the best use of your time?
Over on my Facebook page a few days ago I asked readers what one thing they wished somebody would have told them when they first started doing comedy. There were lots of great answers, but I thought I’d share some of the more interesting ones here in case you missed them.
Have you noticed how many comedians are trying to sell albums lately? It seems like most comedians go straight from their fifth open mic performance to uploading to the iTunes store. But it’s not just newbies rushing to sell albums. Even more established comics are rushing to put out their own albums and try to make a quick buck or two. I respect the hustle, but I think in most cases you’d be MUCH better off giving away your album for free than selling it. Here’s five reasons why…
Several weeks ago I invited my Free Tips Newsletter subscribers to send me the single funniest thing they ever created and promised that I would choose the 10 funniest submissions and feature them in a post on Connected Comedy. Well, this is that post. After sifting through the couple hundred submissions I received, I’ve selected the 10 that made me laugh the most – they may not be the best (comedy is subjective after all), but each of these made me laugh and caught my attention because I thought they were clever, unique, and funny.
Don’t be afraid to try new things, to go against the conventional comedy wisdom, or to experiment with new material or a new approach to your career. Most comics limit themselves more than they should and in many cases they prevent themselves from discovering new aspects of comedy that they will ultimately enjoy. If you break out of your bubble, you might be surprised at what you find.
While it’s not a comedy book, the book’s lessons are applicable to anything you may want to accomplish in your life and there were several revelations that I think are extremely relevant to comedians. I recommend you read the full book, but in case you don’t have the time for that here’s four lessons you’d learn that will help you in your comedy career.
Comedy certainly isn’t a science, but I believe there are some concrete metrics you can identify to judge how your career is progressing on a monthly basis if you want. And, I think these are just as valid no matter what form of comedy you practice – stand up, sketch, videos, writing, etc. – and no matter where you’re at in your career (from beginners to established artists). Here’s the 10 questions I think you should ask yourself to figure out if it’s been a successful month – and ideally you’d like to see these numbers increase over time.
Thanks again for helping make this a great year for Connected Comedy!