Connected Comedy: 21 Handwritten Tips For Comedians From Comedians
Over the years, I’ve been lucky to meet and work with amazing comedians. Comedy is very much a mentorship so I always ask lots of questions. Everyone has a couple stories and opinions and even if I disagree, it’s great to get a fresh take on things. And who knows, maybe you’ll learn something you didn’t think you would. I started having the comedians write in a book with advice so that I could keep it and revisit it later.
This is a book dedicated to advice for stand up comedians, from stand up comedians. From Larry the Cable Guy to Doug Stanhope and everything in between. This is not “boot camp”, this is book camp. I can’t teach you how to be funny, and neither can anybody else. but maybe if you get a bunch of advice from people that are successful, you can form your own educated opinions about how to do it.
I started this for my own selfish growth and after much feedback, decided to make a public page for it. This is my gift to comedians, who have given much to me over the years. This is also a gift for fans of comedians to browse. Many things these comedians have written can be applied to normal professional work habits, especially those looking to succeed in a creative field or self employment. Eventually, when the time is right, I’d like to publish this or put it out with a more visible platform. If you know anyone who can help with that, let me know.
Here’s a few more that are MY personal favorites that didn’t make the Connected Comedy Article:
Alonzo Bodden: “Work the Hell Gigs, Cruise in the A rooms.”
You’re supposed to do bad shows, because sometimes a good show can get bad or a bad situation might happen and you need to be prepared. The best way to prepare is to go to places where bad things happen more often. Lights go out, Mic cuts out, Trays get dropped, People heckle you.
Lots of comics choose not to go on the road, or do bar gigs, and that’s fine. There’s no wrong way to do this. but comics that do these kinds of gigs, in my opinion (and I think Alonzo’s), can get the confidence to walk into anywhere and know they’ll have a chance at success.
It’s important to maintain a balance between good gigs and bad gigs, because you can learn bad habits doing nothing but bad shows, but there’s only so much room in a tiny signature book.
Mike Birbiglia: “Keep going. Keep writing. Keep traveling. Keep being critical of your own work. But don’t stop. Because you’re very funny.”
If you read through the whole book on my facebook page or the tmblr page. You’ll see a million different variations of this. “Be A Tank” “Don’t Give Up.” “Keep going.” “Hang in there.”
And maybe Mike was being nice, because I probably wasn’t that funny a few years ago. How can comics say “Keep it up” if they don’t even know me? They probably just know how hard it is to be a comedian traveling the country doing crappy gigs and know that encouragement is important. I know I’ve looked back on many bad shows to this page (and others) and thought, “If this guy thinks I’m funny, I can’t be horrible. I can keep doing this.”
“Larry the Cable Guy” aka Dan Whitney: “Always play to the people buying the tickets. Don’t play to the back of the room. That’s very important. Also don’t get discouraged and give up! Write an hour a day.”
Everyone has an opinion on Larry. Good or Bad. The man has found his niche and done real well for himself. It wasn’t some giant accident, either. He worked really hard. I think his advice is important. We all want to feel included and want other comics to like us (see the above page with Birbigs.) but don’t forget about the people who paid to see your show.
The goal is to make the audience happy too. If you can do both, you’ll have a much easier road. but don’t always let some comedians opinions stop you from doing what you want or what you think is funny. Also another piece of encouragement. Larry again has never seen me do comedy, so he could be completely wrong but as he just wrote to me on twitter (yeah, we’re best friends like that.): “We should all be brothers in a hard craft.”
You can check out more of the pages on my personal Facebook page, my tumbler page, or the Connected Comedy Website. If you like what you see, share it with your friends. I think it’s a useful tool for comedians. I’m also on the road currently, so if you live somewhere in America, I may come to your city. Come see a live show and see if I should quit comedy for yourself (probably.)