I’m excited to introduce a new series of interviews here on Connected Comedy through which I’ll be able to share with you some of the expertise of various people working in the comedy industry.
To kick things off, I recently spoke to Reg Tigerman, who works as a manager and producer with the Levity Entertainment Group based in Los Angeles. Here’s what Reg had to say about what he looks for in new talent, how he thinks comedians should approach their career, and the role that social media and digital tools can play in getting you discovered and improving your act.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background? How did you get into comedy, how did you wind up working for Levity, and what exactly is your current role at Levity?
I graduated college and moved back to my hometown of Los Angeles, knowing I wanted to work in the entertainment industry – specifically in comedy – but not sure exactly where. I started as a Graphics Assistant on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson then transitioned to an Executive Assistant position at a reality television production company.
I realized reality fare wasn’t my cup of tea and wanted to be more involved in the comedy world. My understanding boss connected me with a company called Levity, which seemed to be in the center of the comedy world: managing comedians and producing comedy specials.
I interviewed, got a job, and now after three years I’ve found myself in a role of talent manager, brand manager and producer. I am the brand manager for Jeff Dunham, coordinating his consumer products business, digital platform, and production needs. I also manage comedians for whom I hope to build just as robust and expansive careers.
When you’re looking for new talent, what is it specifically that you look for? What makes one comedian stand out over another?
In its most simple form, I’m looking for someone that makes me laugh. But to break it down a little – I’m looking for someone with talent and a unique voice or point of view. It doesn’t have to be extreme or alternative, just true to the individual.
Also, someone who understands that this is a business and treats his or her craft with discipline. But most importantly, someone who is FUNNY. With all the comedy I’ve seen, it’s harder and harder to make me laugh, so someone that does will stand out above the rest.
What do you think is the biggest misconception up and coming comedians have about the “business” of comedy?
That it’s exactly what you said: a business. A lot of comedians think all they need to do is get on stage and be funny. Yes, that’s extremely important, but they have to treat their art, their craft, like a business.
Like any other job, a comedian needs to work at it for hours a day, multiple days a week. He or she needs to set objectives and develop strategies to achieve those goals, constantly review their progress, then evaluate if they need to make any changes.
Do you think things like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs are important to a comedian’s career?
Extremely. First, all those things give the comedian a chance to practice their craft every day. They can explore their voice and learn from the audience’s reaction.
Second, these outlets are a great opportunity to give comedians exposure. It could be a viral video or funny tweet that gets a comedian his or her next job.
What advice would you give to comedians who are looking to get management or other representation?
First off, make sure you’re prepared: you have a tape for them to watch, a website to point them to, and possibly an upcoming show where they can check you out live. Second, be persistent, but don’t be pushy. Managers and agents are busy and may not get to your stuff right away, so it’s ok to check in every now and then, but nothing get’s more annoying than someone who emails or calls every day.
What have you learned from the successful comedians that you have worked or interacted with over the course of your career?
The ones that do the best are the ones that treat comedy like a business. They are extremely disciplined, ambitious, set goals, and follow through on them. Motivated and disciplined artists are hard to come by, so actually doing the work, and hopefully some of the time it’s good, will go a long way.
What can comedians do to increase their chances of getting work, even after they’ve landed representation?
Getting representation does not guarantee work. It gives artists opportunities and opens doors that weren’t available before, but it doesn’t give them a free ticket to coast and rely on their representation for jobs.
For a comedian, it’s about continually writing new material, shooting funny videos, just doing creative things. Also, it’s great to meet regularly with your representative to discuss your objectives, so you can both continue to be working towards them.
Do you think comedians have to move to LA or New York in order to further their career? And if so, how do they decide when is the right time to make the move?
There is no rule. A comedian can get a big break while in New York or LA. However, if I could map out an ideal trajectory for a comedian’s career, I would say they should start in New York, where there are endless places to do stand-up, especially where there aren’t creepy industry folks lurking around.
They can hone their craft in obscurity, bombing without having to worry about who might see them. Once they’re ready, they can move to LA, complain about how bad the stand-up scene is compared to New York, but enter the casting world and be introduced to other club managers as a well-groomed, finely tuned comedian.
What do you think is the most important trend or shift happening in the comedy industry right now?
Robots. Besides robots, even though the internet has proven itself as a testing ground for comedy for years now, it’s still amazing the power of a highly viewed online video or rabidly followed Twitter page. Also, seeing all these new, innovative shows pop up around the city is cool. Innovation and experimentation leads to new comedy….or robots.
What one piece of advice would you give to comedians hoping to further their career?
Write. Get on stage. Write. Get on stage. Set goals. Write. Get on stage. Evaluate goals. Recalibrate goals. Write. Get on stage. And Write.
If you’ve got a question for Reg, feel free to post it in the comments.