For an aspiring comedian, there is no such thing as bad publicity. If I was arrested for robbing a Brink's truck, I would want the headlines to read "Stand-Up Comic Rick Conety Arrested for Robbery told hilarious jokes while being Mirandized" "I would be glad to arrest Mr. Conety anytime" Officer Riley said. "He certainly broke up the monotony of the interrogation" "Mr. Conety was heard to quip: "Take my fingerprints, please!"
Be prepared to work in one of your routines at any opportunity, such as a "man on the street" interview:
Local TV station newscaster: "What did you think of the volcano that erupted in Momotombo, Mexico the other day and destroyed 15 city blocks?"
You: "Oh, man, it was horrifying! Hey, speaking of horrifying, have you flown coach lately? I gotta tell ya "
Business cards are important for a comedian. Although 4,999 times out of 5,000, your business card will end up in a garbage can, or used by the recipient to jot down a phone number in a bar at three in the morning....which will explain why you may receive a phone call from someone named Mabel yelling at you that you're a lying, deceitful pig, and she wants the Vicodin that you stole out of her purse.
Other people may keep them as they are handy for scooping up a dead spider or leaving at homicide scenes to throw police off the track.
Tacking them on bulletin boards at laundromats and convenience stores will probably not get you on the fast track Stand-up comics are not usually an "impulse purchase. Not a lot of people stop at a 7-11 for coffee, slim jims, and a comedian less than you might realize
Your business card is a succinct resume. For a comedian, it should contain something that will make the person smile, laugh, or snort milk through their nose It can be a humorous graphic or a short witty remark such as "have jokes, will travel" "will tell humorous limericks for food" "Master of Mirth" or even something that is actually funny.
The more cards you buy, the cheaper they are; with price incentives such as $10 for 100 cards or 1,000 cards for $40. Sometimes they'll even throw in a small car. But when you receive your box of 1,000 business cards, be prepared to not change your e-mail address or phone number for at least the next 15 years. Smoothly pulling your business card out of your pocket and handing it to a prospective booker or client while saying things like: "Let's get together soon to discuss this" looks much better than flipping the card over and writing updated information on the back; making them wait while you blather on about "this is my new cell number and my new e-mail address and this is my new mailing address and this is my new stage name because I found out that Carrot Top was already taken"
Once upon a time, a comic could audition live in person in front of another live person. You knew immediately if club managers thought you were funny they would be laughing. Using this barometer, you also knew if the guy mopping the showroom floor thought you were funny or if the waitress setting out the silverware on the tables thought you were funny. As a matter of fact, the manager would often confer with the custodian who would confer with the waitress and then they would each rate you on a scale of one to ten, each holding up a card with their individual scores and if you got a combined score of at least 25 you were booked. It was a simpler time.
Then technology reared its ugly 4-head VCR and a new generation of auditions began. Club managers or bookers would no longer audition you in person, nor would the custodians or the waitresses. You had to film yourself performing a comedy set and mail it to a club or janitorial closet or table #3 and wait for someone to contact you. You might not hear back for 2 or 3 months maybe 2 or 3 years maybe never. Just be patient.
Nowadays, many demos are taped with small digital camcorders and sent electronically via your computer which makes it easier for you to film demos at open mics. It also means you can send it to a hundred booking agencies at the same time, greatly increasing the expeditiousness of your rejections.
The placement of the camera is important. You don't want it so close to the tables that you can hear someone saying "He stinks let's get out of here" or setting the camera so far in the back of the room, you inadvertently get an on-camera drug deal. Most importantly, do not place the camcorder so far back that someone steals it. If possible, you want to avoid having to cut your set short to run off stage after a thief though that would get a big laugh from the audience because they think it's part of the show or it would get a big laugh from the audience because they know it's not part of the show
Even if you manage to recover your camcorder, you now have a demo consisting of you telling three jokes, followed by a shaky-cam trip down 15th Street with the sound of you yelling expletives. You are now a "performance artist."
— Rick Conety is a stand-up comic who has performed all around New England and western New York. His weekly radio show on WBTN can be heard live on www.wbtnam.org.