how to create comedy

A 20-Day Content Plan For Comedians

I’ll keep this brief.

If you spend the next 20 days creating content based on the prompts I spell out below, I GUARANTEE you will get you more engagement with your existing fans, attract new ones, and learn a ton of valuable things that will serve you way longer than the 20 days you put into it.

While these ideas will work great as blog posts on your website, the topics can also be adapted and work as videos, a podcast, Facebook posts, or even tweets potentially. Choose whatever format you prefer and just put them out into the world.

Trust me, it will work.

Here are the topics…

Day 1: Introduce Yourself

To kick things off write an intro post that explains who you are and what you’re about to do. Tell people up front that you’re going to be putting out a new piece of content each day for the next 20 days and (this is important) give them an easy way to follow along with the journey.

Offer them the chance to sign up to an email list to get each day’s post or to connect with you on a social channel where you’ll be posting the content each day.

Day 2: Why I Became A Comic

Write a post that tells more of your story – explain why you chose to become a comic in the first place. Be open and honest about your background and how you got to where you are – even if you just started out. You might not think it will be interesting to people, but trust me, if you’re honest about how and why you became a comic it will be more interesting than you think.

Day 3: Share A Controversial Or Strong Opinion

It doesn’t matter what it’s about – just pick something you feel very passionately about and write up an explanation of your opinion on that matter and why you feel that way. It doesn’t have to be controversial, but it will work better and get more noticed if it’s something that not everybody will agree with.

Day 4: Admit Something You’ve Never Admitted Before

Dig into your personal life or background and share a story about something you’ve never publicly shared before. It can be something that happened to you, it can be something you’ve learned, something you believe, or something that people would be surprised to know about you.

When you write it up, don’t forget to tell people that this is something you’ve never shared before – it will instantly make it more compelling in their eyes.

Day 5: Interview Somebody Interesting

Find somebody interesting – it doesn’t have to be somebody famous or somebody you know – to interview and share that interview with your audience. Ideally, you will interview a person who is relevant to your niche or the type of subjects you cover in your comedy and in a perfect world that person would also have some social following of their own who they could promote your finished interview to in order to get you more attention for it.

You also want to really think about the questions you plan to ask and try to make them as unique and interesting as possible – don’t just ask the basic who are you and what do you do stuff.

Day 6: Explain How To Do Something

I’m sure there’s something you’re an expert on – figure out what that is and write something up teaching other people how to do it. This is a way to ensure that you provide value to people in your content and it can be the kind of content that builds value over time.

Day 7: Live Blog Something

Pick a TV show, sports event, or some other thing that lots of people are interested in and live blog it while you watch it. If you don’t want to do that, you can also live blog an experience – maybe it’s a live blog of a Spotify playlist, or a live blog detailing a trip to a museum.

The point is to document in real-time (or close to it) an experience that other people can relate to.

Day 8: Share Your Best/Worst/Craziest Comedy Experience

If you’ve spent any time in comedy, I’m sure you’ve got some interesting stories. Pick one of them and share it with people – but write it as if you’re talking to people who don’t have any idea how the comedy world works. Remember, you want your content to resonate with potential fans, not just other comics so don’t make your post too inside-baseballish.

Day 9: Share Five Amazing Videos On An Obscure/Random Subject

YouTube is your friend. Go on a deep dive about some random subject you find interesting, collect five incredible videos around that theme, and then share them with an amusing writeup of your thoughts about each one.

Day 10: Tell A Story From Your Childhood

Speaking of stories that everybody has to tell, think about your best childhood story and share it with the world.

Day 11: Rank/Review Some Local Establishments

Assuming you perform locally often (or want to), pick some of your local establishments and review them. You can play this straight – The 5 Best Date Night Restaurants In Your Town – or you can have more fun with it and do something like The 5 Worst Places In Town To Be Drunk.

The idea is to come up with something that will resonate with people who live in your area and that they’ll be likely to be interested in and share with others.

Day 12: Do A Late Night Monologue

This is a writing exercise, but also may interest your audience. Pretend you were on the writing staff for a late night TV show and write a series of monologue jokes based on that day’s news. As an added bonus, you can probably repurpose those jokes as individual tweets as well.

Day 13: Create A List Of The Best People To Follow On Twitter

If you don’t use Twitter, you can do this on another social platform, but the basic idea is to write something with recommendations of a lot of people that others should follow and explain why.

Once you’ve posted this, you want to tag the people you featured and make sure they know you did so – most likely, some of them will share the post with their own followers and get you more exposure.

Day 14 – Let Friends/Followers Interview You

Source questions from people you know like your friends or followers and answer those questions in a post. Another way to do this is to choose one person and let them ask you the questions – for example, you could let your Mom interview you. Or, you could do something like let your first ex-girlfriend interview you.

There’s a lot of different ways to do this and make it compelling – plus, it’s easy because all you have to do is answer their questions.

Day 15: Write An Onion-Type Parody Article

This is also kind of like a writing exercise, but it’s worth trying to see how you like it. Create an Onion-inspired parody article about something relating to your niche or interests.

Just be sure to explain in the intro to the post or the title what you’re doing. For example, you could title it something like “If I Wrote For The Onion, This Is What I’d Do.”

Day 16: Share The Weird News Of The Week

This is similar to the post you did where you shared a series of interesting YouTube videos, but instead of that this time base it around weird news stories. There are lots of ways to find this stuff – check out for starters – but the point is to pick a few crazy stories and write up your observations about them.

Ideally, these stories would be connected in some way – for example, The 5 Worst Criminals Of The Week – but they don’t have to be. It could also be something like “5 News Stories That Made Me Lose Faith In Humanity This Week.”

Day 17: Share Your Inspiration

Write up a tribute to a person or people who inspire your comedy or yourself. Think about who that person is and what it is about them that you find inspiring and share that with your audience.

And if the person you choose is alive and uses social media, tag them in your post on social media and let them know about what you wrote. You can even frame the post in a way that thanks them. For example, if you’re writing about Steve Martin you could title it, “Thanks, Steve Martin” or “How Steve Martin Inspired Me To Become A Comedian.”

You never know what could come of it.

Day 18: Write An “Open Letter”

Have you ever seen how sometimes publications will feature an “open letter” from somebody written to a particular person or brand? Do that yourself. Pick a public entity that you have a strong feeling about and write them an open letter explaining your position or asking them to take a particular action.

Ideally, this would be something that other people might agree with you about and they could potentially rally behind your expression of the idea or request for the company. For example, Time Warner Cable sucks and lots of people think so – “An Open Letter To Time Warner Cable” might get some interesting support.

Day 19: Talk About Something Nostalgic

The Internet LOVES nostalgia. Figure out something or a series of things that you used to love and write up something interesting about them. It could be a remembrance of them, or even some thoughts about why you miss them.

For example, “I Feel Bad That Today’s Students Won’t Know What It Was Like To Go To High School Without The Internet” or “10 Things Only 80’s Babies Can Truly Understand.”

Day 20: Write A “What I’ve Learned” Post

You can borrow the Esquire magazine What I’ve Learned column format and share a list of things you’ve learned in your life. Or, as an alternate, you can share a list of things you’ve learned from posting content for the past 20 days as part of this plan.

If you stuck with it and made it to this point, you’ve likely learned a lot and I know I’d love to hear about it and share it with others. Good luck!

5 Ways To Mess With The Media And Attract New Fans

Why bother begging the media to pay attention to you, when you can trick them into doing so?

Recently, there’s been a boom in stunts by comedians that are designed specifically to manipulate the media to their own advantage and it’s becoming almost an art form in its own right.

Here’s a breakdown of some recent high profile examples and an explanation of how you can learn from what these comedians have done and create your own media stunt to gain attention for yourself, even if it’s just within your own local community.

1. Work With A “Celebrity”

The most recent example of media manipulation is the stunt Funny or Die pulled off with Dennis Quaid. In case you haven’t seen it, Funny or Die shot a video with Quaid throwing a temper tantrum on the set, but “leaked” a snippet of the video online at first without any apparent connection to Funny or Die.

Predictably, the media jumped on it, creating a wave of stories about Quaid’s tirade. Then, a few days later when Funny or Die released their actual video, they incorporated all the media coverage and revealed that it was all an elaborate prank. Those same media outlets then had to follow up with another wave of stories explaining that the now-infamous Quaid video was actually an FOD stunt.

You can see what happened here:

Essentially, Funny or Die figured out a way to get a wave of media coverage (two waves, actually) around a comedy video that otherwise would have probably just been like any other celebrity video they released.

But you don’t need access to a celebrity like Dennis Quaid to apply this strategy to your own creation. The underlying principle can work for you as well.

For example, on a local level you can reach out to a person or organization who is known within your own community and do something similar with them. For example, maybe a local politician, restaurant owner, or college athlete would be willing to participate in a clever video concept you develop.

You could then bake into your concept the idea of anonymously “leaking” a portion of the video online before releasing the full version and a reveal of the stunt later.

Obviously, you have to be smart about how you do it and it requires good concept and execution, but that’s always true of anything that works. The point is, this is a model that can be adapted and scaled down to incorporate any person or place that is known within the community of people you’re trying to reach.

2. Do Your Research

It’s amazing how quickly John Oliver’s HBO series has become must-see viewing. His extended takes on particular subjects each week wind up featured all across the Internet, despite rarely incorporating any celebrities and consisting mostly of him just sitting behind a desk and dissecting a particular topic.

But some of his best segments have been his takedowns of organizations like this one about the Miss America pageant:


While the bit is fueled by smart writing, it’s also built on a foundation of research that anybody could have done – including things as simple as noticing typos on the organization’s website.

This is something that’s easy for comedians at all levels to replicate if they’re willing to put in the time to research a particular topic. Nothing’s stopping you from choosing a target – either on a national or local level – and digging in to find some interesting tidbits about it that you can exploit in your comedy.

If you think about it, there’s no shortage of potential targets you could research and likely find out some interesting facts about – and most importantly, all of these would likely be of interest to people in your area that you want to know you exist.

For example, you could explore what actually goes on at your local DMV, or you could research the social media activities of a local school’s faculty, or you could look into the backgrounds of your local TV news anchors.

The possibilities are endless and so are the opportunities because if you dig up some interesting stuff, that’s going to be compelling to not only a local audience but likely your local media as well. If you do the work most of them aren’t willing to do, you can also reap the benefits.

3. Do The Unexpected

In addition to messing with the media as an outsider, there’s a whole other batch of opportunities at your disposal if you’re invited to appear on a media outlet.

If you get interviewed by a publication or get to appear on a radio or TV show, you’ll get more out of the experience by doing something unexpected. Something that will get you noticed and remembered. You don’t want to appear as just another comedian on these shows, you want to stand out.

A perfect example of somebody that does this is TJ Miller. His outrageous morning TV show appearances have become semi-legendary, and each one not only gets him noticed in whatever town he’s visiting, but also spreads throughout the Internet getting him even more attention.

They’ve become so notable that even Conan O’Brien talked to him about them here:

While you don’t necessarily have to do what Miller does, you should look for ways that you can do media-worthy things the next time you appear in a media outlet.

4. Pull A Prank

There’s no shortage of prank videos on YouTube and we’re increasingly seeing them work their way into TV comedy as well. Certainly, the Jackass guys built an empire on the back of pranks (at least in part), but Jimmy Kimmel has recently cornered the market on prank videos.

But in addition to the prank videos he’s done that he’s involved with or appears in on camera, he’s also pulled some stunts where it wasn’t obvious that he was involved at first.

Here’s an article detailing some of those anonymous stunts that Kimmel has pulled over the past few years. Each time, he wound up getting more attention from the media after revealing he was behind the prank than he would have if he had just been open about it in the first place.

While Kimmel has a nightly national audience that he can use to make those reveals, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something similar. If you can manage to pull off the illusion of a video that catches on, you then have the opportunity to follow up and reveal that you were the mastermind behind the stunt.

Again, any media that picks up on the initial viral video thinking it’s real is likely to share it with their audience again when it’s revealed it was a stunt – and in the process you’ll get credit and attention for it. Another potential benefit of masterminding pranks like this is that it might also create new opportunities for you – like writing for a show like Kimmel’s perhaps.

It shows that you’re capable of creating compelling content even if you’re not necessarily the one performing it.

5. Team Up

Did you see the recent story about how Will Ferrell and Kristin Wiig were secretly developing a parody of a Lifetime movie with a plan to just air the movie on Lifetime at some point without ever promoting it?

The idea was to create a surreal (and kind of brilliant) stunt that certainly would have surprised people and attracted a lot of attention in the media, but unfortunately news about the project leaked and they decided to scrap it.

While it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to partner with a TV network to pull something off on that scale, you can look for companies or media outlets you can team up with to do something similar on a smaller level. Remember, just about every company has marketing needs and is looking for creative ways to get people’s attention. Use that to your advantage and see if you can find an interesting partner to team up with to create something that will give both of you attention.

Another example of this is what happened with Nathan Fielder’s Dumb Starbucks stunt on his show Nathan For You. You can see him talk about it here:

But there’s lots of ways you can scale this down and try similar media-attracting stunts in simple ways.

For example, if you write roast jokes you could approach a bar and offer to work as a bartender who roasts patrons while serving them drinks on a particular night. It could become a gimmick that gets them (and you) some attention and could make for an interesting story for local media to cover.

Or you could approach an Uber driver and offer to go along with him on all of his rides and perform free comedy for the passengers. Again, it’s a silly stunt, but the kind of thing that you could easily see local (or national) journalists writing about and getting attention for you and the driver.

The point isn’t that you necessarily try any of the specific examples in this article, but rather to make you aware that there’s a lot of interesting stunts you can probably create that will get you a lot more media attention than just sending a reporter your press kit.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Social Media Shifts That Will Impact Comedians

11 Concepts That Will Help You Gain Fans

There’s a lot of different ways to build a following online and use social platforms to attract new fans, but there are certain concepts that are universal and will help you succeed no matter what kind of content you’re producing and which platforms you’re focused on.

Here’s a breakdown of 10 general philosophies and guidelines that will help you get the results you want from the time you spend creating content and promoting yourself online.

1. Content Is Marketing

I talk a lot about the value of creating “content” and when I do I’m referring to content in the broadest form – that includes blog posts, videos, pictures, tweets, status updates, podcasts, standup material, etc.

But that value is not just limited to your own original content – I’m a big believer in the value or curating content as well. Here’s a post about curating that’s worth checking out.

The reason I’m such a believer in the importance of content creation is because it’s free marketing for you and your career.

Every single piece of content you create brings with it an opportunity for you to get found.

Each piece of content can be found through Google searches, can be shared and passed around by people on social media, and can introduce you to new fans at literally no cost. It’s an extremely powerful tool.

Plus, you can use content to target the exact audience you want to reach. For example, if you think parents, or sports fans, or fans of a certain comedian are likely to enjoy your work, then you can create content that is going to attract and appeal to those people and introduce them to your world.

But the thing to remember is that the more content you create, the more opportunities you have to attract fans.

2. Engagement Matters

As important as content is, engaging with your fans (and potential fans) may be even more important. Your content is the hook that draws people into your world, and your engagement with those people is the way you turn them into actual fans and get them to stick around.

One of the biggest misconceptions about social media (especially Twitter and Facebook) is that they’re mediums you primarily use to promote yourself and your stuff. That’s not true, but that’s what most comics do and why most comics don’t get any real results from social media.

Think about your own experience as a follower of somebody else on social media – I’m guessing you hate people who only promote themselves and you feel a genuine connection to people who interact with you and care about you, even if you’ve never met them face-to-face before.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms work best when you use them to engage with people. They’re connection tools, not promotional tools.

You want to use social tools to talk with people as opposed to talking at people. That’s a subtle, but important difference.

3. Be Personal. Be Informal. Be Available. Be Real.

Most comedians’ instinct is to position themselves as bigger and more successful than they are when they’re showcasing themselves on their website and social media channels. That’s a mistake.

Just be real.

People want to connect to other people and they want to relate to them – the more you’re willing to put yourself out there and be honest, the more people will connect to you. Real is always better than fake – in videos, in blog posts, on stage, in everything.

I also think it’s worth noting that this represents something of a generational shift. Back in the day, before technology like YouTube allowed literally everybody in the world to reach everybody else in the world, the average audience member assumed that the people who had broadcast power were better than them. They gave you the benefit of the doubt because they assumed if you were able to get to the point where you were given the chance to reach an audience, that you had some talent.

But now, when anybody can reach everybody, that has shifted and audiences are much more skeptical. Now, if they see you pretending to be bigger than you are, they resent it. You no longer have the benefit of the doubt.

But the flipside of that is that if you are real and allow fans to see you for where you’re really at in your career, those same people will rally behind you, support you, and want to help be a part of your journey to success. They will become invested in you.

A great example of this is the success of the YouTube musical group Karmin which I’ve written about here. You can learn a lot from how they broke on YouTube by being honest about where they were at in their career.

This idea also extends to your writing and your content. For example, your bio may be written in third person but is there anybody that actually believes you didn’t write it yourself? And, more importantly, does it really invite a would-be fan to connect with who you are or does it put them off because it makes it seem like you want them to know the “professional” you as opposed to the person that you are?

You want to make it easy for people to feel like they know you and can interact with you. Because the closer they feel to you, the more vested they become in your success.

On a side note, it’s fine to have a third-person “professional” bio that you may send to people who need it for their corporate gig brochures, etc. But, if you’re hoping to use your website to connect with fans then you want it to be as informal and friendly as possible.

4. The Quickest Path To Success Runs Through A Niche

It’s going to take time to build your fanbase even if you do everything right – that’s just something you need to understand going into it.

However, one way that you can give yourself a huge head start is to figure out a niche that you can appeal to.

Based on your material, life, interests, experience, and goals, you should try to figure out what kind of niche audience you might appeal to because it’s extremely hard to build a fanbase by just being another comic who is generally funny.

If you can focus on a niche – similar to the way Chris Hardwick has done with his Nerdist empire – you will find that all your marketing and content-related decisions become a whole lot easier.

When you have a niche that you’re targeting, you know exactly where to find potential fans because you can identify where else they gather – online or offline. It also allows people to rally around their shared interest in what you’re interested in, as opposed to solely trying to win them over with your jokes.

And of course, if they have a shared worldview to yours, they are more likely to enjoy your comedy in the first place.

There’s a couple other relevant articles about the importance of niche that you may want to check out including these lessons you can learn from Chris Hardwick and this guide to help you find your own niche.

5. Pay Attention To What You Engage With

One of the best ways to learn what works with people is to pay attention to what works when you’re the consumer. Start to think about what ads you click on, what websites catch your eye, what headlines get you to click, and what content you actually share with people.

When you start to think about what gets you to click something, or to take an action, you’ll be able to apply those same things to your own creations. It’s a great way to learn.

6. What People Share Is Not The Same As What They Click

You’ll create content for different purposes, but one broad thing to remember is that people share different kinds of content than they view. For example, porn sites get the most traffic on the web, but when was the last time somebody posted a link to a porn site on their Facebook wall?

People share things that are cute, funny, relatable, etc. But here’s another secret – people usually share things because it allows them to say something they want to say without actually saying it themselves.

People share things to show their support for a specific opinion or rallying cause. Sometimes, they will even share things they disagree with, just because sharing it gives them a chance to express their opinion about it. This is why strong viewpoints are always helpful in content.

This is something to keep in mind as you develop content – you want to use your expertise (in comedy and whatever else you may be knowledgable about) to express things that other people may believe but are not necessarily capable of saying as clearly (or in as entertaining a way) as you are.

7. Figure Out How To Provide Value

One of the most important overall questions for you to think about is how you can provide value to your fans. This goes beyond just being funny. Think about ways you can provide as much value as possible to your desired audience, whether it’s with your own content or not.

For example, on Connected Comedy I provide value to my audience by posting free articles with advice that can help them with their careers. On, I provide value to my readers by scouring the web to give them interesting videos to see and links to other cool stuff on the web. The “value” I provide is that I save them the time of having to look for cool stuff.

There’s no one way to provide value to your fans, and you’ll likely come up with multiple ways to do it.

A great way to get started is to combine your ability to be funny with a certain expertise you may have. The way you do this will be different for everybody, but in general the more value you provide, the more you get in return and the easier it is to grow an audience.

8. What’s In It For Your Audience?

With everything you do, try to think about what’s in it for your audience first. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of thinking about what you want them to do for you, but you’ll have more success if you think in terms of what you can do for them.

I had a conversation with a big-name headlining comic once and he was frustrated with having to post on social media all the time.

“It feels like I have to work for my fans,” he said. “Like I’m working for them!”

He was disgusted by that concept, but that’s exactly correct (and why he does a bad job at social media).

Your fans are your employer. Not the bookers, not the clubs, not the Hollywood execs, the fans. Because if you have enough fans…none of those other people matter.

9. Experiment Often

Because all of this is so personal, it will take you some time to experiment and find what works best for you. It’s important to understand that before you go into it, because too many people get frustrated quickly and give up.

Comics understand it could take 10+ years to get good on stage, but too often assume they’ll be social media experts after 10 minutes. They’re wrong.

By experimenting with different types of content and different ways to use social media, you’ll start to hone in on what works for you and see results.

Another thing about experimentation is to understand the best thing about failing online – when you fail, nobody really sees what you did anyway. Here’s a post that touches on that which is worth checking out.

10. Have A Goal

It’s very important to have a clear goal for what you’re hoping to get out of your activity online because that will ultimately influence everything you do.

For example, is the goal to attract new fans? Is the goal to attract new corporate gigs? Is the goal to create new properties/brands that can lead to new opportunities for books, TV, etc.?

Most likely you’ll want to do multiple of these things which is what will ultimately happen in success, but it’s worth thinking about what one goal is most important to you and letting that dictate your strategy.

11. Recognize The Opportunities You Have

If somebody would have approached comedians 20 years ago and offered them the opportunity to have their own TV show, radio show, or magazine with no cost, comics would have freaked out at what an amazing opportunity that is.

But that’s exactly the opportunity you have now and most comics are too lazy to actually take advantage of it.

Don’t get distracted by the “digital” aspects of all this. Just think about what you’d ultimately want to create and use these digital tools to reach the masses.

READ THIS NEXT: A Business Plan For Comedians

5 Things You Can Learn From Kyle Kinane

Comedian Kyle Kinane is one of the smartest and most respected comedians working today – he also happens to be one of my personal favorites and a guy I’ve worked with in the past who deserves every bit of success he’s had in the past few years.

On a recent episode of The Comedian’s Comedian podcast, he was interviewed by Stuart Goldsmith in what was one of the best discussions about the art of comedy that I’ve heard on any podcast anywhere. I recommend listening to the full episode here, but you can also read some of the highlights of what Kinane had to say below.

1. Comedy Isn’t Easy And Your Comedy Shouldn’t Be For Everybody

At around the 5-minute mark, Kinane shares his take on the current comedy boom and points out that open mics are filled with people trying all kinds of bizarre stuff, wrongly assuming that somehow standup is easy to do.

“There’s more people now than ever in comedy,” he says. “I think people falsely think it’s an easy outlet.”

He goes on to explain why even from when he initially started at open mics, he’s always liked the idea of hearing some groans from people watching his act.

“It shouldn’t be for everybody,” he says. “If it’s for everybody, it can’t really be that great. If everybody likes it, I don’t think they love it.”

2. You Can Wait Until The World Asks You For Something

At around the 14-minute mark, Kinane explains how he’s approached advancing his career and it’s a strategy that flies in the face of what most comedians practice (and what most of the content on this site is, to be perfectly honest).

Basically, he’s chosen not to do anything until people come to him and ask him to do so.

“I never had the self-confidence to be like, ‘Yeah, I got this,'” he says. “I feel like if the world wants you to put it out there, they’ll ask you for it. I never released an album until a label asked me to do it. It’s a much longer way, but at least if I get down that path this way – I know I was asked to be here. I did it the way I wanted to and was asked to go to the next level.”

Kinane admits that his approach is certainly not the only way to succeed and breaks down what he sees as the different ways that comics get ahead in the business.

“There’s people with talent, there’s people with hustle, and there’s people with a mix of both,” he says. “The shorter way [to succeed] is with hustle…but if you don’t have the material to back it up when you get there, you fucked yourself.”

He adds that when he was getting started he didn’t worry about hassling bookers to put him on “good” shows and was content to perform on other shows until the people with the good shows saw him and invited him to do theirs.

“If you’re asking me to do your show, you’re approving of what I’m doing already,” he says.

3. Your Comedy Should Evolve With Your Life

At around the 31-minute mark, Kinane talks about how his comedy has changed as he’s become increasingly successful. He says his biggest goal at the moment is to write “positive comedy,” because it’s more a reflection of his satisfaction with how his career and life have evolved in recent years – and it also helps him stand out from the crowd.

“I realize I’ve got  to separate myself from this pack of sad, bearded white dude comedy,” he says. “I’m trying to make it something that’s more. Something that’s not just jokes. I’m a happy person and it’s disingenuous to go up there [and pretend I’m not].”

Whether positive or not, he stresses the importance of comedians evolving in their act. “I get upset when comedians don’t grow from one thing to the next,” he says.

4. Do More Than Just Make Audiences Laugh

At around the 40-minute mark, Kinane explains how he ultimately found his voice (read more on how to find your voice here) after a string of bad shows at a festival several years ago. Feeling he had blown his big opportunity, he returned to Los Angeles and wound up discovering a new approach to his material.

“I realized…I could do some real weird shit that I think is funny to me, but sounds sad to other people,” he says. “I realized how much more powerful it was for people to understand something as opposed to just laughing at the wording. Laughing at it because you relate is so much different.”

5. Love It Enough To Do It For Free – Forever

At around the 49-minute mark, Kinane talks about how he’s proud of everything he does as a comedian and adds that setting that standard is also a way of “guarding my own happiness.”

He admits to reading comments about himself from critics and other Internet commenters, but manages to not let them affect him too much.

“I read the criticism, but if I don’t think they’re right than I don’t worry about it,” he says.

And finally, he shares some words of wisdom for other comics that are just starting out and hoping to build a successful comedy career.

“Love it enough that you’ll do it for free forever,” he says. “You’re not going to make a living.”

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Things You Can Learn From Jim Norton

The 20 Most Popular Connected Comedy Articles Of 2014

2014 is officially history, but it’s never too late to look back and learn from the articles I posted over the course of the year. Thanks to all of you for reading, sharing, contributing, and being a part of the incredible Connected Comedy community that has developed over the past few years – I appreciate it more than you know.

Below is a breakdown of the 20 most-read posts on the site last year with some brief excerpts of each.

And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, go ahead and check out what were my most popular posts in 2012 and 2011.

20. Case Study: How I Got Facebook Fans And Website Traffic For A Comedian

In determining who to target, you always want to go as specific as possible – the more specific you get, the better the ad will perform. Also, you want to think about what the content is about as opposed to what you (or your website) are about.

19. 5 Things You Can Learn From B.J. Novak’s Appearance On The Nerdist Podcast

“That’s what makes the difference,” he said. “One guy after another kills on stage, but with most of them you don’t feel like you need to know who they are.”

18. 5 Things You Can Learn From Canada’s Biggest Comedy Club Owner

“Don’t hang out with other comics,” he says. “Go to the theater, art galleries, music. [An original voice] doesn’t come from watching comics and imitating them.”

17. 5 Things You Can Learn From Jim Norton

“George Carlin had anger, but look how silly a lot of his delivery was. He let his words talk for him and let the audience come with him…or not. He led them with logic instead of doing the emotional work for them.”

16. 7 Simple Ways To Get More Out Of Twitter

It’s a good idea to post important tweets multiple times during the day/week to ensure that more people see it. Stats have proven you’ll get just as many clicks/interactions the second or third time as you do the first and sometimes more.

15. How To Use A “One-Action” Strategy To Activate Your Audience

What you’ve likely lost sight of in the midst of your hustle is that multitasking is a myth. In reality, people don’t take multiple actions at once, they take one single action at a time.

14. 7 Things You Should Know About The Houston Comedy Scene

The crowds range from extremely diverse to extremely homogenous depending on what side of town you’re on. Houston’s strongest comics tailor their material, with minor tweaks, to work in front of whatever audience they’re performing for that night.

13. 7 Things You Can Learn From Dave Foley Of Kids In The Hall

“The audience has to understand the logic of the joke and if you can’t convey that logic in a concise way, it’s not going to work. You must understand that the people hearing the joke are not in your head – they don’t know your back story to your joke. Their entire universe exists from what you write down and if you don’t have the information in the joke, no one is going to get it.”

12. 5 Things You Can Learn About Comedy Promotion From Steve Hofstetter

“If you do something you wouldn’t have done, because of the money, you’re a sellout. If you take money for doing what you love already, you’re just selling. You’re not selling out,” he says.

11. 5 Things You Can Learn From The Colbert Report’s Head Writer

He explains that a comedy career isn’t like becoming a doctor where you study pre-med, go to medical school and follow a clear path. Because there is no clear path to it, he suggests that you have to be willing to work hard and try everything you can to put yourself into a position where you can get opportunities.

10. The Best Audience For An Unknown Comedian To Connect With

It’s one thing to be funny, it’s another to be interesting. Funny is the minimum, but the way to really connect with people on a more long-term level is for them to become interested in you. There’s no one way to do that, but if you think about it, most comedians that build large, passionate, fanbases have done so with more than just their ability to make people laugh.

9. 5 Things You Can Learn From Adam Carolla On The Solopreneur Hour Podcast

Carolla explains that early on in his career he realized he was not going to be the kind of person who was going to just nail an audition and land a gig. He realized nobody trusted him or thought he was anything special. Taking that into account, he decided early on that if he was going to succeed, he was going to have to create his own vehicle.

8. 7 Things You Can Learn From Manager/Producer Barry Katz

“There’s no way you can’t make money in this business if you get up every morning at six and work till two on your craft and do everything in your power to,” he says. “The only way you can’t make it is if you’re self destructive, doing drugs; if you’re lazy, if you have a sense of entitlement, or if you’re mean or disingenuous.”

7. How 5 Successful Comedians Used Their Websites Before They Got Famous

With a little help from the Internet Archive, I thought I’d go back in time and show you some of the things that today’s biggest comics were doing years ago – when both their fanbases and the Internet audience as a whole was a fraction of what it is today. It’s a good reminder that success online doesn’t happen overnight and that most comics who have made it were putting in work years before you may have realized it.

6. 7 Things You Should Know About The New York Comedy Scene

New York is a very safe place to fail. You can do all manner of crazy stuff here. If it works, everyone thinks you’re wonderful. If it doesn’t, no one cares and it’ll be forgotten about next week. So swing for the fences.

5. 10 Lessons From A Comedian’s First 500 Days In Los Angeles

Sure, open mics are great, especially when you’re starting out, but I think it’s important to make sure you’re getting what you want out of these nightly segments. Think about what you can do with that four-hour stretch rather than just conforming to this idea that “more open mics = better comedian.”

4. 5 Things You Can Learn From Gabriel Iglesias

Early on he also made a conscious decision to maintain a consistent look – in his case it involved shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. He explains that it’s tough enough for people to remember specific comics in general, but comics who constantly change their look only make it harder on themselves.

3. 10 Things You Should Know About The San Francisco Comedy Scene

The audition process starts with the Sunday Showcase at the Punch Line. You purchase a punch card, show up for a year, and then get your chance to do five minutes. If that goes well, you get back up in three to six months, eventually graduating to off-night Cobb’s showcases and an audition if all goes according to plan. If you pass your audition, you’re added to the rotation of openers, which currently numbers around 70.

2. 5 Things You Can Learn From Comedy Central’s Head Of Talent

Larsen explains that advertising sales are ultimately what runs a TV network and that “controversy is not a good thing to sell advertising.” This means if you want to get on TV, being unnecessarily blue or racy will hurt your chances. He also discusses the importance of continuing to create new things even after you get a break or some exposure. He hates having an opportunity spring up for a person, only to have them not prepared to go with new material from the last time they got their shot.

1. Louis CK and Doug Stanhope Discuss Being A Healthy Comedian On A 2005 Message Board

I don’t mean looks, I don’t
 mean weight.  I maintain a pretty good belly.   I just mean getting
 yourself ready, steeling yourself, improving your abilities and 
strengths as a person. Given the odds of making it as a comedian, I am amazed at how little 
effort so many comedians make, while complaining bitterly about their 
lack of breaks.  I mean, you should be thinking like an olympic athlete 
but you think like dorito-eating high school brats, doing nothing and
 expecting everything.

Thanks again for making this a great year for Connected Comedy – can’t wait to see what comes in 2015!

7 Things You Can Learn From Dave Foley Of Kids In The Hall

This is a guest post from Connected Comedian David Gavri, a Chicago comic and comedy writer who also publishes interviews with comedians on his Gonzo Fame website. If you’d like to contribute a guest post to Connected Comedy, please email me.

A founding member of the comedy troupe Kids In The Hall, Dave Foley has had a long and successful career as a standup comedian, actor, and writer. He recently appeared at a Q&A held at Second City in Chicago where he was interviewed by Katie Rich and shared the following advice for comedians about the challenges of writing and creating comedy.

1. Sometimes The Best Ideas Come When You’re NOT Writing

When it came to writing sketches with Kids In The Hall, Foley explained that typically the group’s most successful ideas came when they weren’t actually trying to write at all, but rather when they were just hanging out together.

“The best ideas come when you’re NOT writing,” he said. “We spent an awful lot of time watching MTV videos and saying stupid things at the TV. And that would end up giving us a great idea for an episode.”

Unfortunately, that process can be hard to quantify as work. “You’re sitting around a computer or you’re sitting around your writing meetings, yet NOTHING comes out of it,” he said. “And all of a sudden at 2 am you fart on a guy’s face and you’re like, ‘That’s hilarious!'”

2. You Have To Develop Instincts To Understand When Something’s Good

Regardless of whether you’re writing standup or sketches, Foley stressed the importance of putting in time and effort in order to get to a point where you develop instincts to understand whether something you’ve created is good or not.

“I know when something’s good…but I’ve honed the craft of it over the years to where I’m more consistent in how I develop things,” Foley said. “Just doing it so many years, it’s like there’s an audience in your head that’s an amalgam of every audience you’ve ever played in front of – and you can just feel it.”

That’s why Foley believes improv and performing is such an important tool for writers.

“Writers who have NEVER performed are missing that tool. And they’re missing that ear, that ability to hear an audience react to things in their head. And a lot of times with sitcoms, you’re dealing with writers who have never been performers so they’ll write a line that on the page seems wonderfully funny, but when you say it out loud you realize that it not only isn’t funny, but it doesn’t even make sense.”

3. Focus On “Tight Writing”

Despite the comedy world’s current love affair with improv, Foley says Kids In The Hall never improvised anything and instead focused writing as tightly as possible.

“We would get together and basically shout out ideas to each other very quickly,” he said. “We would write and hone the sketch from a writing standpoint – we never had an idea and just improvised it. Writing for a TV show, we focused on tight writing.”

This was also motivated by the demands of  the medium.

“If you wrote something that was 3 minutes or under, it was MUCH easier to get in the show. If it was 5 minutes, you had to fight,” he said. “If it was over 5 minutes, you would almost never get it in. So the focus was always to be tight.”

4. Be Willing To Throw Jokes Away

One of the toughest things for all creators is to be willing to “kill your babies,” the process of throwing away material that you may like but may not be quite working for whatever reason. Here’s how Foley handles that:

“I’m not at all precious about anything,” he said. “You pitch a joke and if no one likes it, who cares? It’s something where I go, ‘Alright, I’ve written 1,000 jokes and I will write 1,000 more jokes.’ If you’re funny, it doesn’t matter.”

He continues, “Everything is disposable. And in a scene, you can have a joke that you absolutely LOVE, but if it’s hurting the flow of the scene you have to cut it. You just have to cut great jokes. You have to throw great jokes away if they don’t make the scene better. So you have to just…not love anything.”

5. Overcome Writer’s Block By Distracting Yourself

Despite his success, Foley admits that the act of writing can be more than a little frustrating for him.

“Writing is just the shittiest thing on Earth to spend your time doing, it’s just horrible,” he said. “I don’t understand people who ENJOY writing. I think you have to be some sort of egomaniac to enjoy writing…to just sit back and find your own thoughts interesting.”

But to combat the writing struggle, Foley suggests you find ways to distract yourself.

“Distraction is a great tool,” he said. ” Brain studies have shown that you get moments of insight when you are distracted from the problem you are trying to solve. And it’s good to give yourself that opportunity. For Kids In The Hall, when we had ideas that were going nowhere, we would often just leave and go go-karting for a few hours.

“And usually, while we were just hanging out go-karting, we would come with two or three ideas that were actually usable. It’s just that once you take your mind off it, it actually gives your subconscious a chance to come up with some decent ideas.”

6. Every Idea Is New (And Old)

When asked if he thought everything’s already been done before, Foley shared his perspective on the creation of comedy and the connection between what’s new and what’s been done before.

“The infinite variations in any art form is amazing,” he said. “You have the 12-tone scale which is the basis of all music, yet every day somebody writes a new melody with this limited tool of these same 12 tones.”

He went on to explain that everything can be varied, comparing creations to DNA.

“Nothing is entirely original and new, just as every life form has evolved from something earlier,” he said. “Every idea has evolved from something earlier and everything is seeded by things you’ve seen in the past.”

With that in mind, Foley recommends studying what you love to the point that you totally understand it, then throwing it away.

“For me, it was understanding EVERYTHING about what Monty Python does and with Kids In The Hall we just threw it out,” he said. “We literally went as far as we could structurally from Python, because we loved it so much. So just study the people you love and then just throw them away.”

7. Clarity Is Key To Comedy

As somebody who’s had success in standup, TV, and movies, Foley has a unique perspective on what makes comedy work and for him, it all comes down to a clarity of the material.

“It’s all about understanding HOW to deliver a joke,” he said. “A lot of people think that comedy doesn’t have to be sensible, but I think comedy has to be watchable. Comedy has to make sense. People have to understand the thought process behind the joke for it to be funny and they have to know where it goes off the rails and becomes a joke.

“The audience has to understand the logic of the joke and if you can’t convey that logic in a concise way, it’s not going to work. You must understand that the people hearing the joke are not in your head – they don’t know your back story to your joke. Their entire universe exists from what you write down and if you don’t have the information in the joke, no one is going to get it.”

In the end, he explains that comics have to tackle the same challenge no matter what they do. “You have to find a way to get the information out in a way that doesn’t interfere with the joke.”

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Things You Can Learn From BJ Novak

6 Lessons You Can Learn From The Success Of “Jackass”

The latest Jackass movie crossed the $100 million mark at the box office last weekend as it continues the remarkable success streak for the franchise. But the reasons Jackass has become such a phenomenon goes beyond people’s fascination with guys tasering each other. Here’s a look at 6 Lessons You Can Learn From The Success Of Jackass that will help you create and market your own comedy creations.

You Don’t Need A Big Budget

The most common excuse I hear for why somebody’s content doesn’t work is because they don’t have enough money to make it work. While there’s truth to that excuse some times, it’s usually just a cop out.

The Jackass crew produces its movies on a miniscule budget compared to a typical feature film and it has absolutely no impact on the entertainment value of the final product. This is even more true online, where typically the videos that go “viral,” have little or no budget at all behind them. In fact, I’d even argue that in most cases online, the bigger the budget the less likely the video is to succeed.

There’s Strength In Numbers

One of the keys to the success of Jackass is that it revolves around a crew of guys doing the stunts and not just one individual. The competition between the guys drives them to do bigger and better stuff than they would on their own. Second, it allows the audience to connect with different members of the Jackass crew and accentuates their individual characteristics (i.e., Johnny Knoxville’s the ringleader, Bam Margera’s the one who messes with his parents, Steve-O is now the sober one, etc.). Third, having a group also creates natural marketing advantages because it allows more people to market to more audiences and bring their own niche followings into the fold.

From a comedy standpoint, I rarely ever see comedians take advantage of the strength in numbers – though I have noticed that many of the biggest stars on YouTube informally collaborate and work to grow each other’s followings. Even forming a loose coalition, can pay big dividends for comedians who are trying to break into the business.

What You Stand For Is As Important As What You Produce

The Jackass guys make some really funny movies, but that’s not what really drives the connection between them and their fans. That connection and loyalty comes from the ideology behind their brand. People aren’t just entertained by the Jackass world, they passionately connect with what it stands for – a balls-out, no fear, approach to life. There’s lots of videos of people hurting themselves out there, but there’s only one Jackass and that’s mainly because Jackass stands for more than just entertainment to its fans.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

People like things that are simple to understand and they like to share and  talk about things that are simple to explain. Jackass is both of these things. You don’t need a college degree to “get” a Jackass movie and you also don’t need to have seen anything else the Jackass guys have done to appreciate their latest masterpiece. These are two things that are completely opposite of what I see lots of creators doing when they roll out episode 14 of their obscure Napoleanic political satire series on YouTube.

Get More Bang For Your Buck

It’s always smart to develop multiple ways to monetize your content and Jackass do this on a large scale by essentially shooting enough bonus footage to release a straight-to-DVD sequel to their latest big screen productions. After Jackass 2, they followed it up with Jackass 2.5, a straight-to-DVD release that included enough new footage to stand on its own, even though it was all shot using the same budget they used to shoot the feature film. They’re planning to do the same thing with an upcoming Jackass 3.5 DVD release.

This is smart business and something I’d encourage you to consider on a smaller scale in your own projects. If you’re shooting a sketch video, what else can you get out of that? Maybe you can sell a song that you play in the video? Maybe you can shoot a funny “Making of” video and get two videos out of your one production?

Show People You’re Having Fun

It seems obvious, but if you’re creating comedy it should be fun. And that fun can be contagious because audiences want to connect with people who look like they’re having fun. The Jackass guys always look like they’re having the times of their lives and that’s why just about everybody that watches their work has that moment when they feel like they wish they were a part of the crew because they make it look like so much fun. Even though you know it would be torture, they make it look so fun that you want to be a part of it…by paying to go see the movie from the safety of the theater.

READ THIS NEXT: 6 Questions You Should Consider Before Doing Anything Online.

The Story Behind “Stuff White People Like”

As most of you are probably aware at this point, a little blog about Stuff White People Like exploded across the Internet a couple years ago and rode a wave of success all the way to 73+ million web visitors and a book deal. What you probably don’t know, is how exactly that happened.

The blog’s author, Christian Lander, tries to explain the phenomenon in this presentation he gave back in 2008 at the offices of Google. Don’t be scared off by the 48-minute run time of this video – Christian’s speech only lasts about the first 20 minutes and he’s as entertaining as you might expect.

6 Questions To Consider Before Doing Anything Online

When I work with comedians, I always ask them the same question to start things off: “Why do you want to be online?”

The surprising thing is, most of them don’t really have an answer.

Too many comedians go online because they think they have to for their career. Here’s a newsflash – you don’t have to be online. In fact, if you’re not really committed to putting in the effort it takes to succeed online, then I would say you’re better off not being online at all.

Being online with a static website or MySpace page is meaningless. These tools don’t matter unless you use them, and in my opinion, using them means updating them regularly, frequently, and with content that people are actually going to care about. Email blasts and Facebook invites to your next show are fine, but they don’t count as content.

In order to succeed online, I strongly believe you have to figure out why you want to be online in the first place and – equally important – be honest with yourself about the commitment you’re willing to make to being online.

Toward that end, here’s six questions I recommend you consider as you map out your online strategy:

1. What kind of content are you capable of producing? Written? Video? Audio? Pictures? Something else?

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people never consider it . For example, if you don’t have access to a camera more than once a year, do you really need a YouTube channel?

2. How often will you be able to produce content?

If your schedule only allows you to produce content once a month, then do you really need a Twitter account that you never update? If you don’t have time to update a Facebook page and a website, then why do you have both?

3. What are you really trying to accomplish?

If you’re looking to build your fan base, you may go about that very differently than if you’re looking to showcase your talent for the industry. Are you trying to maintain and build strong relationships with your existing fans, or are you trying to grow a new fanbase? Obviously, you can do all of these things, but it’s important to guide your actions by understanding what your top priority is.

4. Are you willing to work to promote your content?

When it comes to the Internet, producing content is only half the battle. In order to truly succeed, you have to be willing to promote that content as well. But if that makes you uncomfortable, then maybe you’re better off contributing your content to an existing website or blog so that they can promote it for you and you can piggyback on their audience, as opposed to having to develop your own.

5. What can you do that’s unique?

In the comedy world, people are always looking to find the next unique voice and it’s the exact same thing online. Give some thought to what your voice is and how you can bring that voice online. Don’t be just another comic ranting about the same old stuff in the same old way. Just like you’d avoid doing hack material in a comedy club, you should avoid hack material online as well.

6. What service can you provide to your audience?

Give people a reason to engage with your content by providing them with a service. The obvious way to do this is by being entertaining, but think about if there’s more you can provide on top of that. Maybe it’s giving them advice? Maybe it’s teaching them something? Maybe it’s finding funny or interesting stuff for them and sharing it with them? It’s fine to just entertain people online, but thinking in terms of providing your readers with a service is a great way to attract an extremely loyal audience.

READ THIS NEXT: 10 Things You Can Do To Get 10 New Fans Today