Two months ago, stand up comedian, Bobby Jaycox, shared his beliefs in DIY comedy. In his guest post, he wrote “doing things yourself might sound super obvious, I know. But there are a lot of people who just wait for things to happen.”
I used to be that guy, just waiting for Lorne Michaels to call me up and ask me to be on SNL. I’m still holding out hope, but when I started this blog, I decided it was time to start making things happen for myself.
For any comedian, especially one as self-obsessed as I am, the dream to get more stage time, and the best way to get more stage time is by creating your own comedy show. This past weekend, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do just that at STL Style. It was great to get Minstrel Blood back together and feature my friends, Bobby Jaycox and the Creepy Basement Players.
So if you’re creating your own comedy show, here are my top four tips:
Just the word “networking” is enough to make my stomach hurt, but in this business, it really is all about who you know. I’m not suggesting you hit the town every night with an agenda, making friends with the sole purpose of landing a gig, but you never know who you’ll meet when you’re friendly and approach people.
My show, Paraskavedekatriaphobia, only happened because my girlfriend is good friends with the owner of STL Style. She introduced us and he mentioned that he was interested in hosting a comedy event at his store. It’s weird how sometimes things can just work out when you’re meeting people and sharing your interests.
While I’m still waiting for Lorne to call, most people aren’t going to ask you to put your own show together. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t happy to host you or help you put it together.
Organizaing a show or putting together any DIY comedy event (a workshop, a podcast, a blog) just requires that you’re bold enough to risk rejection and ask for what you need or want. Chances are people will be happy to help you so long as they know what you’re looking for.
MAKE IT EASY ON THEM
If someone is letting you use their space, they’re doing you a favor. So do them a favor back and take care of all the small, annoying details that come with producing a show. Create the poster and drop off copies. Make the Facebook event and promote it online. Ask them if you can help set up. Arrive early. Never stop asking how you can help.
Sure, you’re going to need their help for things too, but they’re more likely to make time to pitch if they know you’re taking care of the rest. And, if you want to do the event again, they’ll remember how responsible you are and how easy it was to work with you and say yes.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
If you’re hosting an improv show at a new venue, chances are the audience may not know what they’re getting into. As Nathan Kenkel wisely noted, it can be pretty weird to see 10 people pretending to be a hamburger.
At my show, I specifically asked CBP and Bobby Jaycox to perform because I know their comedy is accessible. And although Lindsay Lutz and I normally perform a monoscene, we chose to do a living room instead because it’s less arty and more fun.
In her interview, Jill Bernard said that “improv is always going to overflow its cup. If you make more opportunities for improvisers, they fill up those opportunities and create a need for more.”
By branching out, you’ll get a chance to introduce improv to a new audience, you’ll learn new and valuable skills, and you’ll give yourself a chance to make that connection that could lead to your next big break. You don’t need to wait for permission. Start creating the comedy you want to see.
All photos by Julia Madras. Below are a few more from the show that I couldn’t squeeze into the post.