The Internet has given us access to virtually all the information in the world, but it’s amazing how few people actually take advantage of it – especially when it comes to comedians.
No matter where you live, you can now create your own personal “comedy school” for yourself by tapping into the Internet and seeking out information from experts in whatever aspect of the comedy craft or business you want to learn.
Here’s a few suggestions about where you can find this information and how to look for it.
LISTEN TO PODCASTS
The explosion of comedy podcasts in the past couple years has flooded the Internet with audio interviews with comedians at all levels of the comedy business talking in length about how they approach their comedy and the business in general. At this point, there’s enough great stuff out there already that you could probably listen to an hour of new material every day if you had the time, and there’s more hitting the web every single day.
If you don’t regularly listen to podcasts, you may assume that they’re all just a bunch of guys telling jokes but that’s not the case. Many podcasts take a much more serious tone and you can learn a lot from them.
Listening to Kevin Smith’s new ABC’s of SNL podcast with Jon Lovitz was a revealing look at how somebody’s career developed to the point where he landed a coveted gig on Saturday Night Live.
On a recent Nerdist podcast, Patton Oswalt talks to host Chris Hardwick about his early days in comedy and his writing process.
On a recent episode of Comedy Bang Bang, Scott Aukerman interviews John Mulaney and finds out how he landed a writing gig on SNL and what goes into producing that show.
These are just the tip of the iceberg or what’s out there – do a little exploring and you’ll find a treasure trove of information available to you in podcast form.
In addition to podcasts, YouTube is another great source of educational content for comedians. Some simple searches for videos related to things you want to know more about will turn up some real gems.
First of all, you can find tons of clips of great comedians from all eras in action and watch and learn from their acts, which is a pretty amazing resource to have available. But beyond that, you can also find interviews with successful comedians and hear how they approach their act.
For example, you can watch Dave Chappelle’s Inside The Actors Studio interview, or George Carlin talking about how he changed his act from a mainstream television comic to a counterculture dean.
You can also learn from people who work in virtually any aspect of the comedy business. For example, here’s legendary TV writer Larry Gelbart talking about his experiences as a TV writer and here’s The Lonely Island being interviewed by YouTube’s comedy editor about their viral success.
And of course, you can always check out this interview I did about my take on the changing nature of the comedy business. Again, the possibilities are endless.
PARTICIPATE ON MESSAGE BOARDS
Whether it’s my own new Connected Comedy Forum or existing comedy message boards such as A Special Thing, there are message board and communities all across the web where comedians are talking to each other, sharing tips, and learning from each other. Go join these communities, get to know their members, and you’ll find it can be a great resource for learning.
ASK QUESTIONS OF PEOPLE YOU RESPECT
All the information that’s available to you thanks to technology is great, but what’s equally valuable is the access that these tools can give you to specific people. Thanks to things like Twitter, Facebook, and email, it’s now possible to actually reach out and directly engage with people who have already accomplished what you’re hoping to do with your career. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them directly and ask for advice.
For example, if you admire how a particular comedian has built his career, why not tweet a question to him and ask what he thinks was the biggest key to his success? If you’re wondering how people get internships on the Jimmy Fallon show, just email the show and ask.
Plus, if you’ve got a blog or you contribute to another website, then you can offer to interview people who you hope to learn from. People at every level of their career enjoy being interviewed, and you’d be surprised how many established people will be willing to chat with you for an interview that you want to publish somewhere – even if it’s only going on your own website. And once you get them to agree to be interviewed, it gives you the opportunity to ask and learn anything you want from them.
Not everybody will respond to you every time, but you’ll be surprised how many people will answer you if you ask.
No matter which of these things you decide to pursue and however much (or little) time you put into them, the key takeaway is to understand that you now have the opportunity to learn anything you want to learn about the craft and business of comedy from the comfort of your own home and with basically no cost. So, what are you waiting for?