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This is a tough one, but it can also be really rewarding. I've produced my own show for years now. A lot of comics produce shows at comedy clubs. It's a good way to get your foot in the door. A weekly show is really hard to do. Shoot for a monthly.
Some clubs will give you a spot for putting so many butts in the seats. If you still can't fill the room and keep the quality of comics high, you can always start a bringer show. Now the exploited becomes the exploiter. See above. But, who cares it's a great way to get stage time and maybe even make a buck or two.
How do you fill a room? Start a mailing list. I don't know why all entertainers don't create these automatically. After a few years in the business, you're guaranteed to have a pretty extensive list and that's "butts in the seats" power to any club booker or bar owner.
Getting an agent In my opinion, comics fret too much over this. Just like Eleanor Roosevelt never said, "Write more. Worry less." If you do get approached, keep the following in mind: Securing the right agent or manager is a lot like getting married. You don't just marry the first, nerdy guy that comes along just because he asks. Remember, it's the year 2001 and there is nothing wrong with living together first. Translation - freelance.
Write all the time. Bring a notebook every where. Write all the time and don't be afraid to write badly. Write with other comics. That doesn't mean pay them. You don't have to pay someone to write with you.
The challenge is finding your own voice. If you want to do someone else's material become an actor. Just because we're comedians doesn't mean we have to do everything solo. Bands often have an entire team of people behind them. There's no reason comedians can't help each other, as well. Tip for the day: Write for girlcomic.net.
Get off your ass. Hopefully, this will be the first and last piece I ever write about becoming a stand up. Because really, you can learn all of this on your own. But, if this brief article stops one person from paying 300 bucks for a stand up class then I'm happy. Just get out there and do it.
Too many people complain that they need someone to "give" them a job. Why, when you can make your own opportunities? That's what girlcomic.net is about. Good luck and stay positive. See you on stage, Becky
Producing your own show: Actually producing is relatively easy. It's dealing with comics that's difficult. When I was still actively producing, many comics got their own rooms and later came back to me and said, "Cantu when you were running the open mikes, I thought you were a f*****g a******!" but now I understand the reality of dealing with comics."
Start a mailing list: Cantu says START AN EMAIL LIST. What's its gonna be? Start your own mailing list and tell your fans where to find you, or stand on stage in a room of six and curse them because they were the only ones to show up - And today comics wonder why comedy went bust - H E L L O???
Getting an agent: Agents are like bank loans. You can't get one till you're so successful you don't need one. No one who knows anything about the business will take you when you are unknown. - Then, once you're known - - -
Write with other comics: While it's useful to write with others, here's a tip to women comics. Make sure the comic is serious about writing. Be aware that "Want to get to together and work on some material?" is one of the two standard pick-up lines for male comics. (The other one, for civilian females is "So where did you park your car?" - Rebecca Kennedy)
If this brief article stops one person from paying 300 bucks: Becky has written an article based on solid real world experience, that's excellent, except for this mistaken bit of advice. But I know where she's coming from.
- The first was a discussion with a pal of mine years ago. He mentioned he had been taking private lessons once a week with another coach for a year. I said, "A year!? But I've never see you on stage." "My coach doesn't think I'm ready yet."
- Second scenario. Also, a few years ago. I was meeting with a comedy mentee, Celia Fox, for coffee and Fox said, "Hey Cantu, guess who I saw today? Rachel. Rachel said, Celia, I've been so busy with my new job, but I wish I could work with Cantu again."
Before Celia could continue, I blew up. "She doesn't need to work with me. She needs to get her a** on stage and do something." And Celia started laughing. I said, "Why are you laughing?" And Celia said, "Cause the next thing she said was, "But if I try to talk to Cantu, I know he'll just say 'get on stage.'"
Becky Donahue is ranting against the former kind of coach, the svengali type, who tells the student they (the coach) can make them a star (and the coach might genuinely believe it.)
Because a good coach doesn't make you a star or teach you to be funny. No one can do that. But a GOOD coach is worth hiring. A good coach gives you the benefit of hindsight before you get there. He / she simply takes years off your learning curve by helping you avoid the mistakes he or she made along the way and by sharing what he or she has learn from other successful people in your field.
You could use Becky's argument, 'you can make your own opportunities' against any coaching instruction for any endeavor: You're taking a cooking class? Buy some food and cook! You're taking a chess class? Buy a chess game and play! You're taking a tennis class? Buy a tennis ball and hit it with a tennis racket (For golf substitute 'golf ball' and golf club,' for baseball, substitute 'baseball,' 'baseball and bat'.)
Do you need to take a class to learn how to run? I don't think so. But there is not a runner in the country who would think about trying out for the Olympics WITHOUT having a coach.
Yes, you can learn anything on your own. But you take a class to CUT TIME off your learning curve. And to avoid making bonehead BEGINNERS' mistakes. And, thus hopefully you can climb the ranks quicker often go further than your coach because you have his or her shoulders to stand on.